Chandigarh: They have bled for the country and have suffered grave injuries in combat, but the soldiers are determined not to let their disabilities overwhelm them.
Naik Kulwant Singh served in the Four Mahar Regiment was shot in the spine in a militant ambush in Jammu and Kashmir 13 years ago.
Singh hasn’t walked since, but at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Chandigarh, he found the spirit he once thought he had lost.
Says Singh, “Once I felt very low but seeing the others here I have gained inspiration. I feel all right now. If I had gone to my hometown it would have only added to my troubles. Life here feels ok now.”
The soldiers are entitled to a lifetime's stay at the Rehabilitation Centre. Many of them continue to contribute to the armed forces and its allied institutions making jerseys, socks and other items of clothing for soldiers and cadets.
“At the initial stage they were in a trauma, depression because naturally they were up and kicking in the army and leading a very adventurous life,” director, Paraplegic Rehab Centre, Col Jaswant Singh.
From playing a friendly basketball game to learning about the Internet, the soldiers are using the centre to grow as individuals.
Not all of them have come to terms with their condition, but in a place where a wheelchair is never considered a handicap, many of these patriots are learning to laugh play and live again.
Even though they might have won medals at international competitions, it is a second life they are leading and winning with a smile now.