Arunima Sinha - The Woman Atop the Mountain - GODYEARS

Arunima Sinha - The Woman Atop the Mountain

January 05, 2016

Authors note: This post was a runner-up in the #SpreadTheVibe contest


You are a twenty four year old woman in India. Against social norms and expectations, you have risen and are today considered a national level sportswoman. You are a few steps away from your lifelong dream - to represent India. It still lingers in the back of your mind as you sit in the train headed for Delhi to attend the exams for joining the Central Industrial Security Force. That is when you feel the tug of the chain at your neck.

You are being robbed and you instinctively rise to defend yourself. In the days to come, people will actually taunt you for that reaction. They will tell you that you were wrong to defend yourself. That you should have just allowed the thieves to have their way with you.
You defend yourself single-handedly as no one comes forward in a crowded train to help you. In the end, you are thrown off the edge. Before you can even rise, another train on the opposite track runs over your foot, mangling it below the knee.
49 trains pass by as you lie there, crying in pain and bleeding away as night turns to dawn. Even when you are discovered, there is no rush to get you to a hospital as bureaucracy and paperwork override your suffering pleas.

By the time you reach the hospital, you already know the fate of that lower limb. And yet, your suffering refuses to end.

Ill-equipped, the hospital apologetically informs you that they have no anaesthesia to provide you even though the surgery needs to be done urgently to prevent gangrene and septicemia. In scenes that you thought existed only in Hollywood horror movies, you are wide awake and aware as your limb is finally severed from your body and even as you lie in the operation theater after it is all over, you watch a stray dog walk into this 'sterile' room and start to feast upon the amputated leg.

Lest you worry that your dignity remain intact, outside the hospital doors, the various government agencies are busy pointing fingers at each other for culpability and eventually decide to point it back at you. Yes, you - the woman who just lost her leg. They imply that you must have voluntarily jumped off the train because you had no ticket or perhaps because you wanted to commit suicide.

This is you now. Your dreams shattered. Your reputation being torn to shreds while you lie in the ICU. A limb lost forever.
It feels like the end of the first act of a horror movie. What would you do?


Here's the ironic thing - as you read this, talks are still ongoing for the above mentioned paragraphs to be the first act of an actual Bollywood movie. Only this is not going to be a story of horror but instead one of inspiration.

For rest assured, Arunima Sinha's story is nothing short of true will power and determination to beat the odds.
With the whole world dismissing her as a tragic victim, Arunima decided that she needed to rewrite her story. And for this, she decided to dream the most impossible dream for a woman who had only one leg (that too, held together with metal implants).

She decided to climb Mount Everest.

Arunima Sinha
Image source: here

Amidst all the cries branding her a lunatic, she would find solace in the encouragement given by Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. Prosthesis in place, she would undergo the grueling 18 month training and face multiple near-death experiences with far smaller mountains than her goal.

Her eventual trek up to Mount Everest would be just as eventful as any third and final act of a movie, mind you.
The prosthetic limb kept swiveling around as she climbed, causing her to lose her grip on several occasions. At the notorious Camp Four/Death Zone of Everest, she would bear the sight of hundreds of dead bodies of unsuccessful fellow climbers, including people she had known. And yes, for an iconic final twist, as she neared the peak, she would be informed that she did not have enough oxygen to climb down so it would be wiser to abandon the dream for now as she would surely die if she kept climbing upwards.

This is you now. Your dreams once more about to be shattered. Your body hanging once more off the edge. Once more, I ask you - what would you do?

Arunima disregarded her Sherpa and made it to the top of Mount Everest on 21st May, less than two years after she was thrown off the edge of the train. She took a few pictures and videos of herself after hoisting the Indian flag at the peak, determined that there should be proof of her victory, even if she died.

She was prepared to die for this photograph to exist.


She did not die though. For once, lady luck shone her way. There, on the summit of Mount Everest of all places, as her own oxygen cylinders ran out, she found an extra cylinder. And 52 days after she started her climb up the mountain, Arunima made the precarious trek downwards with that one cylinder, till she reached her safe haven finally.


Arunima Sinha became the first female amputee to scale Mount Everest.
Since that day in 2013, she has just putting new targets in front of her and obliterating them as she swishes them aside. Her impossible dream complete, Arunima could just as well sit and soak in the laurels of her Wonder Woman-esque achievement. But that just would not be her.

In 2014, she was one of the most loved speakers at INKTALKS 2014, receiving a long and well-deserved standing ovation from every person in that room when she finished telling her story.
I know... I was there in that crowd.

2015


Women Innovators for Excellence in Research
& Science (Winner 2015)
Link: here


Among many other awards that she received, 2015 was the culmination of a tale of redemption unlike anything India had ever seen. It was the year that Arunima Sinha was finally awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India. 
And yet, for this woman, there were still new highs to attain in 2015 -

  • Her book "Born Again on the Mountain" launched by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi went on to become a national bestseller in 2015.
  • She still continues to passionately fight for the poor and differently-abled, donating all financial aids she gets towards their well being and in hopes of starting a sports academy for them. 
  • And yes, she stills aims for those mountainous highs - On December 25th 2015, as you and I awoke to Christmas gifts, the woman thrown off the train and left to die on a seedy railway track successfully climbed Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak of South America. 

The highest peaks in Asia (Everest), Africa (Kilimanjaro), Europe (Elbrus) and Australia (Kosciuszko) have all been hosts to Arunima's presence as well. 5 peaks down, only North America & Antarctica left to traverse. All this in less than 4 years after the incident.  

You cannot tell the story of the rise without acknowledging the pain of the fall.

This story began with a literal fall. But the true lesson is not in the fall or the evil of mankind.

It is in the rise of Arunima Sinha.
The rise that should inspire you never to give up, no matter how impossible the odds.
To be ready to change your dreams if necessary but keep persevering for excellence.
To be ready to accept the consequences of your fall and begin your rise once more to be born again on the mountain.

Above all else, I still remember the one question she posed to us during her speech at INKTALKS and I think it is something that really affected me and hopefully will have a similar impact on you too, especially now that you know her story - "So what excuse do you have for not reaching your goals?"

Image source: Arunima Sinha (Twitter)


Author's note:
I am writing this for Indiblogger's & YouthKiAwaaz #SpreadTheVibe to share an inspiring tale. 

You Might Also Like

40 comments

  1. You've got a way of weaving yourself into readers' hearts that is truly heartwarming. Roshan, thank you for sharing her story in your inimitable way. I feel blessed to read about her and thank God for every single thing in my life. How can we ever complain or agonise over petty things if we read stories like this one? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shailaja... yes, I can be pretty petty and complain about all that goes wrong in my life. But when I think of this... all that she went through and how she decided to face her disasters (what else can you call it) head on and how she won, I realize I can still do more with my life instead of crying over spilled milk

      Delete
  2. That is totally awe-inspiring! I had goose-bumps while reading this! Such heroes should be lauded immensely, what perseverance, what will-power! Thanks for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish more people knew about her... this is the story that needs to be followed and encouraged instead of all the tripe we see in papers.

      Delete
  3. Awe inspiring indeed!! What grit and determination God bless her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, grit and determination are the apt words...

      Delete
  4. Truly inspirational! A great post to kick off this year!
    If everyone who failed could have this perspective, then we could eliminate the word failure from the dictionary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. seriously... as I mentioned above to SHailaja, reminds me of how petty my failures are and inspires me to keep moving on...

      Delete
  5. No anesthesia? Seriously, what kind of a hospital was that? And she had to go through the surgery and watch a dog feast on her severed leg? I'm reeling as I'm writing this.

    Hat's off to her for being so brave and strong. It is sad that women like this don't make it to the front page of the newspapers for the strength they show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Soumya, as she described it, it wasnt the hospital's fault - they were just under equipped. And that is a very common thing across so many hospitals I have seen, once you move beyond the elite ones. In fact, the hospital staff actually donated blood for her surgery to keep her alive.
      But yes, that and everything else - including the dog bit - feels like a horror film, does it not?
      And yes, instead of steady streams of Sonia, Mamata, Jaya etc, we need people like this to keep gracing the front page.

      Delete
  6. Just amazing! This story is truly inspiring :)

    I have no excuse. I don't ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't know what to say. The way you told this story gave me goosebumps Roshan. Each turn is by turns horrifying and inspiring. Amazing story amazingly told.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tulika... yes, it is simultaneously horrifying and inspiring.

      Delete
  8. Inspiring is a small word to describe the feelings that must be running through all our hearts, after reading this. And I can only imagine what it felt like to listen to it live, as she spoke.
    And of course, you've delivered her story to a new set of audience in your very inimitable way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sid... I really do feel sad that stories like this don't get more coverage and yet we have time for such asinine people in everyday news. This woman climbed 5 of the world's highest mountains with just 1 leg!!! In less than 2 years technically...

      Delete
  9. Oh God! The flashback part of it was absolutely horrifying especially the surgery without anesthesia....very inspiring story beautifully penned.... Awesome Roshan....

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh God! The flashback part of it was absolutely horrifying especially the surgery without anesthesia....very inspiring story beautifully penned.... Awesome Roshan....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya... there is a real sense of horror in what she went through. And that is why what comes after that is even more inspiring.

      Delete
  11. A very inspiring story indeed and wonderfully penned as usual!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very inspiring indeed. The last question has really got me thinking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remembered it too over a year ago.. it resonated in my mind too.

      Delete
  13. What a stunning tale. God bless her. Thank you for sharing this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for dropping by... and yes, I really do wanna someday be able to say she conquered all the 7 peaks of the world

      Delete
  14. She's an inspiring lady who dared to turn the tide in her favor. Love the way you approached the post:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vishal... she really is a huge inspiration

      Delete
  15. Men in India writing about womens's accomplishment?! I applaud you for taking the step to use your online real estate to write such truly inspiring pieces.If India had 50,000 men like you in each state, I can remain hopeful about India.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha... have written quite a few more mostly about inspiring women actually. Can only think of one or two men I've really written about.. :)

      Delete
  16. Thank you so much for sharing. It is very important that we come to know if such tough minded people. It was like watching a movie as I read your article only that what I read is true as is written. So we have no reason to five any excuses. Hats off to Padma Shri Arunima Sinha. Thank you for sharing that so much in an effective style Roshan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. It feels nice to read this. It shows that people do care. Definitely Arunima Sinha deserves all the plaudits she gets

      Delete
  17. I'm glad you agree, Sultan. I do believe that we need to highlight more such inspiring stories instead of sticking to the mainstream regular stories we read everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  18. How come I haven't heard about her. I loved the detailed post doc. Thanks for sharing. True winner she is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, better late than never :)
      Hers definitely is one of the most inspiring stories there is...

      Delete
  19. So what excuse you have for not reaching your goals!! This has been echoing in my ears from the moment I've read it.. Just thank you, for sharing the story of the very courageous, Arunima Singh!
    It's inspiring and breath taking at the same time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it Geet. Yes, it made a big impact on me for sure.

      Delete
  20. Arunima Sinha is truly a role-model.
    Had watched her inspiring video too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More people need to be aware of her

      Delete

So what do you think ?

Blog Archive

About

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.