MUMBAI :He remembers lying in the snow, his ears ringing from the sound of the blast. He felt an excruciating pain in his left leg, and when his hearing was back moments later, he could hear his own screams along with the loud chatter from his fellow Armymen who had reached the spot.
“Kuch nahin hua hai, sab theek hai. Kuch tension mat le (Nothing has happened, everything’s fine. Don’t get tense),” Anandan Gunasekaran recalls telling his colleagues. And yet, he couldn’t dare look down at what was left of his limb after stepping on a landmine. He’d never see that foot again.
Last week, the 32-year-old was in China’s Wuhan for the World Military Games, racing away with a blade for a left foot, to gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m races. And now, he finds himself in contention for the Tokyo Paralympics next year. “The rules have changed and qualification is based on a ranking system,” he says. “The final trial is in May, but I’m sure I’ll be in the top 5 world ranks. I’m sure I’ll qualify.”
Gunasekaran, a Subedar in Madras Sappers, had been posted at the Line of Control (LOC) in January 2008. Five months later, on June 4, he was a part of a team sent to conduct a routine check of the wire fencing at the border. It was there, hidden in the snow, that Gunasekaran stepped on the mine.
A year later, he remembers sitting in a hospital after numerous surgeries, reading a magazine article about multiple gold-medal winning Paralympian Oscar Pistorius — and his mind was set on what he wanted to do.