Once again, Anonymous ARUNIMA

Forgotten behind the curtains, discarded by the media, this young woman is waiting for one more chance. She will have to win the game again. She has no choice
Shikha Nehra Delhi

Ever since the startling revelations about Arunima, 25, were reported, she has ceased to be a worthy story. Being despised, however, hasn't made her bitter towards the media which left her uncanny story on a note that puts Arunima under suspicion. She has nothing against the media, she tells Hardnews. It remains a medium for her to reach out and tell her story.

Fighting anaesthesia, Arunima tries her best to keep her eyes open. Is she feeling well after the grafting surgery of her left limb, her mother, Gyanbala Sinha, asks. She nods, and descends into sleep. Her mother draws the curtains to block the sharp sunlight - is her daughter in pain? 

In this slow darkness, they have reconciled to the pain. This is the repetitive journey of the heartbroken family since Arunima met her tragic fate on the night of April 12, 2011.

Arunima's left leg came under a moving train on a railway track after she was pushed out from 4205-Up Padmavati Express by a ruffian trying to snatch her chain. Later, to save her life, her leg had to be amputated at a hospital in Bareilly. Arunima's tragedy caught the attention of the nation. The entire country shared the tragedy of this young national-level sportsperson. Politicians and cricketers declared their help. However, for her family, the only politician who actually helped them through this tough crisis is Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken. He is facilitating Arunima's treatment as well as the accommodation and conveyance of her family.

The Government Railway Police (GRP), whose statement doubting the veracity of Arunima's statement thrilled certain sections of a cold-blooded media in April, has not moved one inch in terms of evidence. The same GRP remained unmoved till April 20 waiting for Arunima's statement to begin preliminary investigations. Apparently, it has no evidence to substantiate its sensational claim; sources say that is why they have become speechless now. Says Arunima, "They are changing my version, so that they can hide their own inadequacies." Perhaps, the GRP chose to accuse Arunima to avoid questions raised over their stark incompetence in investigating this case.

In the midst of this 'bad faith and  bad press', the former under-18 national-level football and volleyball player is still being treated at the Jai Prakash Narayan Trauma Centre, AIIMS, Delhi. Her doctors say that in a month she will be walking on her feet. She will soon get a prosthetic leg.

Still in her teens, Arunima had to discontinue playing professionally because of "some financial issue" in 2004. However, her love for the game did not end. After turning 19, she decided to appear for the CRPF-BSF-CISF recruitment examination so that she could have a job and a chance to get back to football/volleyball again. She says, "The ones who get selected are asked to choose their field of interest, and candidates are placed accordingly. I would have definitely chosen sports, and perhaps I could have done wonders like Rajyavardhan Rathore, the Olympics shooter." 

"She would be able to walk and run, but I don't know to what extent. It depends on her will power and desire to get back on her feet. This, however, would be possible only after she is trained to walk with the artificial limb," says MC Mishra, chief of AIIMS Trauma Centre, Delhi.

Now, though she has lost a leg, she is determined to play again. This fortitude arrived one day when Hardeep Singh, a 70-year old, who lost both his legs in a train accident, visited her at AIIMS on April 20. Hardeep told Arunima that despite being physically challenged he has won a medal in javelin throw at the national level, so there are always windows of opportunity waiting to open, and nothing is forever lost. "You have to be strong willed to get what you want. Nothing is impossible. But remember one thing, never pity yourself," he told Arunima. Says her mother, "My daughter hasn't wept since she met Hardeep Singhji."

Forgotten behind the curtains, discarded by the media, this young woman is waiting for her chance yet again. Life must revisit her soon. To redefine her new life. To fight it out with resilience and hope. This world is different now, but she will have to win the game again. She has no choice.

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JUNE 2011