After Kargil’s war veteran Major DP Singh lost his right leg, he finally developed a joke. “The right is no longer left and the left is no longer right.” That is still one of his favorite lines. But he never complains. “Everything is perspective,” he says.
In summary, when Timesofindia.com sat down to listen to the story of this army man, he gave a master class on ‘positivity’, something that every human being in the world today is looking for in times of pandemic. And Singh believes “can be found”.
Without much ado, we let Major Saab take us through his journey, having seen him complete half marathons as India’s first knife racer and, very recently, became a diver, in his own words.
‘THE REAL LOCK’
“The other day, at one of the webinars, I was sharing this. I suffered a yearlong crash in an ICU, even if I only pick up the days of injuries. Everything is perspective, one must understand. Whoever wants to cry will cry. And the one who is looking for positivity definitely finds it someday, somewhere.
Every soldier in the armed forces who has seen the field area, the motorized pole areas, the control line, the borders, Rajasthan, Siachen, high altitude, jungles, these are all inaccessible areas. So when you find yourself in such inaccessible areas, you are actually isolated from the rest of the world, and being isolated from the rest of the world is actually what feels like a blockage. That is the true confinement.
Today, even if you are in a confinement setting, you have been told to stay home, except for some people who are not with their loved ones physically. However, it is still connected via smartphones, technology, video calls, etc. It has all the support system for electricity, air conditioning, water, ration. But when a soldier finds himself in those areas of solitude, he doesn’t really receive support with those basic needs either.
In a high-altitude area, where the temperature drops, the soldiers remain in a hut made of a tin shed. Even if you touch it with your bare hands, there are chances of frostbite and you may lose your hand. If you want to drink water, you need to burn the snow outside, get water out of the snow. But he is there because there is a purpose in his life. And he has accepted the reality of the situation. ”
“When I got injured, I was on a pole around a riverbed during peak summer. I had landed on the pole after open knee surgery. That surgery was on the left leg and the leg I lost was correct. That is what I joke saying that the right is no longer and the left is no longer right.
So they sent me to that post (after knee surgery) in Akhnoor, and that’s where Operation Vijay started. The enemy outpost was just 80 meters away, the Line of Control was somewhere between us. Inside the bunker, it was like baking in a hot oven. The only water support was the river water kept in clay pots. You cannot use electricity, otherwise you can give away your post. The fresh supply was not there. It was then that my post was attacked and the enemy wounded me in the mortar shelling.
On posting, it was a lockdown for me for about a month and a half without any basic needs readily available. It was supplied but like once in a week. Then I started my second confinement, when I was evacuated and (almost) brought to the hospital dead due to a large loss of blood and cardiac arrest during the two and a half hours it took to get to the hospital after the bomb exploded next to me. . There were 50 shrapnel trapped inside my body, there were many shrapnel that were bigger and had cut me. Many of those holes were open where the blood was coming from.
Then I was received and declared dead by the surgeon there. Fortunately, another doctor present there, an anesthesiologist, did not give up and revived me in some way. ”
“I was in the ICU for about two months. The intestinal parts were injured, the legs were injured, the hands were injured. But I never felt that I was dying and I never felt that something was wrong with me.”
Whether a soldier is in extreme conditions or in the ICU, the first thing that happens happens in the mind and that is adapting, accepting reality, ‘now I am hurt, it’s okay, I can’t change it, it’s done. “Then you adapt according to the situation, like ‘OK, now if I’m hurt, or if I’m in the position, how do I adjust to accepting reality and make myself the best in this situation?’
So I adapted to my reality and I adapted to the condition of the ICU. To feel better, I used to enjoy and have fun and listen to spiritual songs or Bollywood songs. Among the few (audio) cassettes he had at the time were dialogues from the movie ‘Sholay’ – ‘Jo Darr Gaya So Marr Gaya’ (one who gets scared, dies).
These were the things that kept me in a good sense of humor, which also accelerated my recovery, because it is a mind game. I had accepted my reality and then adapted accordingly. There are two options that a person always has, either cry or say it with a smile. So the best is’ jitna loss ho chuka hai woh to ho chuka hai (whatever you have lost, you have lost it). Now why cry more and add miseries? Better just smile. That’s what I was doing. ”
“The other day, I was talking to Assistant Deputy Inspector Harjeet Singh (who had his hand cut off in an attack on the Punjab police. His severed wrist was successfully reattached). He was asked a question.” you have anger or distress against someone or anything. He replied, “Why should I have that and why should I have it? No need for that.” That is the required state of mind.
If we add with anger and anguish or irritation against something, that means I am adding to the miseries. So if I’m already in a challenging situation, if I add more (thinking) on those lines, it will get worse for me. So if I really want, if I really have compassion and love for myself, I want my situation to be reversed. So, as a human being, the brain that I have been given does not make any sense, if I add the miseries.
I was making the most of (my situation), to the extent that on the third day itself, when I regained consciousness, one of my fellow classmates at the time, Captain Prakash Krishnan, came to meet me. The moment I saw him, I smiled and said, ‘Hello, Prakash! How are you?’ We sit down and talk. It was only later, after a year, when I met him again, that the hospitalization ended. He came back surprised and said ‘Arre, DP, damn hell, when I had come to see you, you were smiling as if nothing had happened. So I thought nothing had happened to you. It was only later that I learned from the doctors that he was so seriously injured.
So, as I mentioned, if you really love yourself, if you really have compassion for yourself, then you will not increase your miseries and rather you will have a feeling of gratitude.
My hospitalization was approximately one year. If you relate it to the current situation, you were locked up in a hospital and you know there are always checks and balances (in a medical center), there is a great checklist. Similarly, as we have been given the checklist today in the blocking scenario. “Choice hamesha merely has vich si, ke mai rona hai ya hasna hai (the choice of whether to cry or smile was always in my hands).”
THE LEG IS GONE
“On the third day (of my hospitalization after the attack), the gangrene had gotten on my toe. I didn’t lose my leg on the battlefield. The leg went away because of the gangrene on my right foot. So when that It happened, I was transferred to the Command Hospital in Udhampur, a better hospital.The surgeon was looking at my wound and gathering the courage to share the news of amputating the body part to a 24-year-old man who had just started his career.
He had just put in a year and a half of service. So it was just the beginning of my career. That way, if you see, all my dreams were shattered.
When the doctor shared this news with me, I, looking at the wound, was already prepared, seeing and realizing that this leg would disappear.
Two thoughts came to mind at this moment. The first was a very spiritual thought, very resurrected. I don’t take credit for it, I think it was kind of pious. It was’ okay, let me see now how disabled people live their lives. Maybe someday I can do something that is not only inspiring for me but for many others. That was the first thought.
One needs to be highly resurrected to handle all of that, and I am not a saint. So I don’t take that thought for myself. ”
THE LEAF RUNNER IS BORN
“But the second thought was my own thought, and that was the promise I made to myself, that I will never compromise on the quality and standard of my life. That pushed me to love my life. Over the years, that made me think and relate to the reality of the world. When I related it, I felt that people have a small pessimistic perspective towards people with disabilities, towards someone like me. For me, that used to be a question mark about my ability, that used to be a question mark about respecting a shoulder. So, to live my life with all the quality and standard that I promised myself, I thought I should do everything I was doing before.
I felt like I have to respond now, but the way the soldier responds is in the form of action, not lecture or something. So for action, (I thought), what’s the most difficult activity for an amputee like me? Then my action will be the loudest. It was then that I decided on the marathon and the cross country race. ”
Running, I think, should be an integral part of every human being’s life because this is God-given physical activity that can keep you mobile, fit and healthy throughout your life. So I wanted to run. ”
“In 2019 I opened another area for people with disabilities, when I did skydiving alone. Now I added eight jumps of this type to my kitten. The first was with the armed forces in Nasik and then I went to Canada and we did seven more jumps there.
The reason for picking up such challenging activities was that skill is a state of mind. Like being happy and being sad is in your hand, similarly the ability or the inability are again in your hand, your mental state.
And it’s not just possible for a soldier. The NGO that I run, the Defiant, is for amputees and in that we train amputees or people with disabilities through sport for the same type of mentality that I have spoken about. We have around 2,000 amputees connected to that group and over 1,000 are such that they have understood this outlook on life and are flying and doing various wonderful activities in their life. They are all civilians, they are not ‘fauji’ (of the army). ”
‘THANK MY LORD’
“Mai ta kuchh nahi sikheya, eh ta Guruan ne sikhaiya cheezan (my gurus have taught me all this). I have said nothing of mine. Parmatama di thodi kirpa hai, ohne thodi sojhi ditti ke asi samajh sakiye es cheez nu (es God’s grace, he helped me with good sense to know this).
I don’t know how much I have understood, but everything is written in our holy granths (books). People know it, but they forget it and don’t really put it to use. ”