From The Young Indian.com
M.P. Anil Kumar is a former Air Force Pilot. He was born and brought up in a village by name Chirayinkil, 35 kms north of Trivandrum. He was awarded as the best Air Force cadet of 65th course of National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, Pune and as the best in aerobatics of 134th Pilots Course of Air Force Academy, Secunderabad. In Dec ’84, he was commissioned into the IAF as a fighter pilot.
On 28 June ’88, at around 2300 hrs, whilst returning to the Officers Mess on his motorcycle after night flying, he drove onto a road barrier, inside Air Force Station, Pathankot. The spinal injury due to the accident left him completely paralysed below the neck.
Anil Kumar writes
“The cervical spinal injury (quadriplegia) necessitated me to lead a totally dependent life, tethered to the bed and wheel chair. Now, I am like a man fettered for life; unable to use my hands and legs, incontinent and spoon?fed. Ironically, the most painful aspect of quadriplegia is the painlessness! It isn’t mere loss of tactile inputs and outputs but absolute dependence on someone else to accomplish mundane necessities and domestic chores that yoked me; even for things like swabbing ears and swatting flies.
All my efforts to rationalise personal catastrophes have always mystified and at times stupefied me. To adapt to the new challenges posed by the debility, I had to unshackle myself from the self imposed stupor. Therefore, in Sep ’90, I decided to learn the art of writing by holding a pen in my mouth (because of dysfunctional hands). I began scribbling illegibly but was chagrined to find little progress even after 3 weeks’ laborious efforts. Then, I decided to change tactic and wrote a letter to Sheela George, the person who kept on chivvying to start mouth?writing (earlier I had paid little attention to her exhortations). My joy knew no bounds when I completed the few lines that embodied my first mouth?written letter. Initially, I found my hard work to be a mere pie in the sky; but, 4 to 5 months’ assiduous efforts resulted in attaining a readable style of writing. This modest achievement enabled me in reviving the chain of correspondence and begetting new friends.
It was Wing Commander PI Murlidharan, my former flight commander, who mooted the use of a personal computer (PC), as a writing tool. He added that it would assist me to utilise my mental faculty to the hilt. Hitherto unsuccessful attempts in procuring a keyboard (modified to suit my requirements) have somewhat emasculated my resolve. Nonetheless, my hope of acquiring a PC remains undiminished.“
In 1993, in response to The Indian Express invitation, Anil Kumar picked up his calligraphic pen with his mouth and wrote five impeccable pages on how he realised his dream of becoming a fighter pilot, and then saw it shatter because of a silly accident. The article was published as he sent it, in his own writing. Readers wrote in by the dozen, but the biggest tribute came with the inclusion of the article in the Standard X English textbook of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Education from the 1995 academic year.
I looked upon writing as a way out of the stupor the accident had left me in. It was to reaffirm my faith in myself that I decided to learn to write holding a pen in my mouth, says Anil Kumar.
Read the article as it appeared in TYIndian.com here