The Peak Of Courage


Being physically handicapped is no barrier to achieving courageous feats. The physically challenged can accomplish coveted mission on par with their able-bodied counterparts should they discover a way to tap into their infinite source of mental strength and steely resolve. Hari Budha Magar has proved this right. In a history-creating feat, on May 19, Magar became the first double-amputee-above-knees to reach atop Mt. Sagarmatha, catapulting him to a celebrity status and giving an unmatched sense of pride and goosebumps to millions of people at home and abroad. And they had a good-enough reason to feel so.

More importantly, the ex-British Gurkha’s unparalleled achievement has send a message that the differently abled people need society’s love and support rather than frowning to enable them to carve their own path to success. The climber has underscored that his climb will go a long way to inspire others and change the very perception of disability. “If a double amputee can climb Everest, you can climb whatever mountain you face, as long as you are disciplined, work hard and put everything into it,” said the 43-year-old mountaineer.

In many societies, the disabled are subjected to discrimination and neglect. There is still a widespread perception that disability is the result of a sin in previous life and disabled people are burden on the society. Only yesterday, this daily published a story documenting the tales of many differently abled people, pains they have to endure, prejudice and intolerance they face in society and religious places. “When we reach religious sites for worship, many treat us as beggars,” one had lamented, describing how he lost all the self-respect after being humiliated. Here, those who use discouraging and humiliating words against the differently abled are only to be blamed.

This is not to imply that things have gone from bad to worse for such people. On the contrary, things have changed for the better over the last few decades. We now have seats reserved for the disabled in all public transportation, in addition to the elderly and women. They are given preferential treatment whenever they are sighted, whether at work, home or on the go. Almost all sidewalks are now disabled-friendly, especially for the blind. The ubiquitous yellow strips in the middle of footpaths have been making it easier for those with vision impairment to walk freely. Apartments, houses, restaurants, public offices are becoming friendlier to them though there is still a long way to go in this direction. But these all have to do with easing bodily pains, what about the mental facet? 

Unless they feel society has become more accepting and more accommodating to their needs and desires, relieving them of their physical discomfort doesn’t mean much. Unless and until their psychological wounds are healed and they feel assured that their able-bodied cousins’ perception towards them has changed once and for all, they would feel neither secure nor be able to live a dignified life in their own society. Budha Magar’s monumental success is truly inspirational to say the least and capable enough to jolt the deeply held notions regarding disability. 

What we need to do now is to make sure that this true, highly motivational and potentially life-changing story is told, shared and retold to people in every nook and corner, in all remote villages which are bearing the brunt of the deeply rooted superstition that have made life a living hell for the disabled.  Doing so can very well mean that more and more people like Budha Magar will emerge from obscurity.      

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