SUCCESS STORY: Profile In Courage

  • Publish Date: Feb 5 2018 1:56AM
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  • Updated Date: Feb 5 2018 1:56AM
SUCCESS STORY: Profile In Courage

Wounded in firing, in coma for 40 days, bedridden for over half a year and still too weak to walk properly, this boy from Islamabad passed Class 12


“Mamma, Sameer passed,” Zahida Bashir shouted, hurrying towards her parents. Results of Class 12 exam had been declared and Sameer Ahmad Bhat, her younger brother, had cleared it. Everyone in the house rushed to hug Sameer, some tousled his hair, others patted him on his back and kissed his forehead. They did so extremely carefully lest they hurt him. Not without reason: Sameer has been bedridden for the better part of a year. It is a miracle he is even alive, his family says. 

“I am proud of him,” says his mother Nazneen Begum, 38. “He battled for his life throughout the year but he still passed the exam.”

Sameer lives in Khulchohar village in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. On May 27 last year, he was in Higher Secondary School, Mattan, when a protest broke out over the killing that morning of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Sabzar Ahmad. “Soon as we finished the first three classes, a protest broke out. Me and my friend tried to escape from the back gate of our school,” says Sameer, struggling to speak. The government forces fired on the protesters. “Suddenly I felt a bullet hit my head and then I don’t know what happened.” 

The bullet shattered his skull. Sameer’s schoolmates and teachers took him to District Hospital Islamabad, where doctors referred him to Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Srinagar. “His skull was damaged so much his brain was visible,” says Nazeen.

Sitting beside her mother, Yameena Bashir, Sameer’s eldest sister, adds, “Sameer had lost a lot of blood on his way to the hospital. He was given 11 pints of blood, donated by his friends and relatives and some was given by the hospital.”

As news about Sameer spread, thousands of people from neighboring villages arrived at his house to offer funeral prayers. They thought he was dead. “When I saw my son I could not recognise him because his condition was so bad,” says Nazneen.

Sameer was operated for five hours and he was in coma for 40 days. When he woke up, the right side of his body was paralysed – and he could not speak for nearly four months. “In all those months, he was speaking to us in gestures,” Nazneen says.

Sameer still can’t speak properly and he struggles to eat on his own, walk, use the washroom or even change clothes. But with what little strength he had, he studied for his Class 12 exam. He passed with 48.4% marks. Sameer wants to be a computer engineer but first he must get well. “I won’t take admission this year. It will be impossible for me to attend college. I will take admission in some engineering college once I am healthy again,” he says.

He was asked by his relatives and friends not to sit in the exam but he was adamant. “He was confident he would clear the exam easily,” says Yameena.

Given his condition, Sameer was allowed a helper – a student from a class lower than him – to write the exam. Sameer dictated the answers and the helper penned them down.

When he decided to take the exam, Sameer’s parents went to get his bag and books from his school. “His teachers didn’t give us is bag because it was soaked in blood,” Nazneen says. “They did not want us to remind of that fateful day. But I insisted and they handed it over to me.”

The bag was caked with blood and his books were all red. “It broke my heart. I flipped the pages of every book, they all were red. We arranged exam notes for Sameer then,” she adds.

Sameer’s parents borrowed money for his treatment. They must take him to Srinagar every month for check-up and he is now completely dependent on medicines. “We have spent around 10 lakh on his treatment. His medicines cost seven thousand rupees per month,” Nazneen says. His doctors have said he may need to be operated again in May this year. “That one bullet,” says Nazneen, “changed my son’s life.”