“I was on my way to school one morning when a truck ran over my leg. I was rushed to the hospital, but the doctor said that only if we had 25,000 rupees, my leg could be saved. I came from a family of poor means so this was not even an option.
My leg was amputated 6 times and when I was discharged, I realized that life would continue to be difficult. Since that fragile age of 6, I was termed ‘langda’. If I wanted to go play football with the other boys, I wasn’t even allowed on the field because they said I would damage the field and the ball. My own father thought I was a liability, because being the eldest in the family I was supposed to contribute to the family income– he would beat me black and blue until I decided to leave home at the age of 15 to earn money and try to become independent.
I had seen these street gangs since a young age so I decided that in order to defend myself and make some quick money I would join them. I started keeping a knife, earning money and beating people. I went to jail three times…it was a dark time in my life but I didn’t know what else to do — I was tired of having no income and constantly being made fun off. In 1994 there was an order to ‘shoot me if seen’.
This is after they had beaten my mother and put my father in jail. One night when I was in hiding a tall 6 foot man caught me by the shoulder. I went to remove my knife thinking its a cop, but before anything could happen he said, ‘My son, Jesus loves you and has a great plan for you.’ He held my hand for hours, spoke to me and explained to me that life was not over — something my own father had never done.
I said ‘if there’s a God, ask him to remove me from this hell.’ Since then, he became my guide. He enrolled me in a place for troubled youth, took me to church, kept reading verses from the bible and tried to reform me. I was in the NGO for 2 years and through them I got my Jaipur foot…and that’s when I got the confidence to chase my dreams. They have done so much for me that they spoke to the police, explained that I’m still not even 18, but I’m transformed…and they let me off with a last warning.
During this time, I was given the news that my father passed away. I knew that I wanted to take responsibility for my siblings and mother so I would work at the NGO the whole day, go to evening school from 4 pm to 7 pm and then work at Mc.Donald’s from 7-11 at night…everyday. On weekends I would sell socks and save every penny. This went on for 2 years, until my boss at the NGO told me that he wanted to promote me and I would have to attend a leadership programme in Portugal! I gladly agreed and started making more money. I met a beautiful woman, married her but lost to her brain hemorrhage the night she delivered my son. I’ve been heavily involved in social work since then.
Since the past 13 years I’ve been running the marathon, I’ve climbed multiple mountain peaks, played in the cricket team for the disabled, started projects for street children that provide ‘soup, soap and salvation’, driven a bike to Ladakh to rehabilitate families affected by the flood…all because one man cared enough to reform my life. That’s the message of my story — that one person CAN make a difference.”