The will to fight that a sportsman always carries has helped 27-year-old Esther Kujur overcome what would otherwise have been a crushing tragedy
Nagpur: It is the spirit of a sportswoman that drives her to jump hurdles, overcome obstacles and achieve the goal. Esther Kujur, 27, a Nagpur University medalist of various hues and a district and national football, hockey and sepak takraw player, is now tapping into her inner strength to win the deal fate has in store for her.
A student at St Ursula High School and a dual postgraduate with an MA in Botany and an MA in Sociology from Hislop College, Esther was planning to go abroad for a PhD when her luck failed her.
On November 20, 2020, her father’s birthday, she went out on her two-wheeler to fetch a can of conditioned water. His father insisted on accompanying him. She has accepted.
Coming back, with the can in front and both legs wrapped around it, she was turning near Loha Pul in Sitabuldi when an MSRTC bus driver also turning right made a wide loop pushing Esther to the far side. She lost her balance and fell.
The driver rolled over on his right leg and hit by this feeling of rolling over something and also the thud of his father’s palm on the bus, he decided to back up. He straddled her leg once more, but this time tearing it away from her body. As Esther lay screaming and screaming in shock and pain, her eyes shifted to the bus where she saw her leg caught on its bumper.
“I was writhing in pain and shame because there were so many people in the crowd busy doing a reel on their cellphones. I didn’t want to be seen that way by so many people,” Esther recalls.
It took 18 days in hospital and seven surgeries and plastic surgery before doctors said she could go home. “I told the doctor that I wanted my limb back. He said it was already gone when I was taken to the hospital,” says Esther.
Once home, her indomitable spirit took hold. The next fourteen months were to be spent in efforts to regain his life. She enrolled in a DPharma course and started preparations for NET, SET.
“I was on crutches and I didn’t want to be this helpless image. So I undertook efforts to figure out how to get a prosthetic leg,” she says.
Driven by this strong urge to stand on her own two feet again, she started researching and found the price and source from where she could get one. “It was supposed to cost Rs 3.5 lakh and I had also found a German Otto Bock company right here in Nagpur that would suit me.”
The amount was too much for her. His parents are retired. His mother had worked as a nurse at a local hospital and his father a laboratory assistant at St Ursula’s School. “I approached many NGOs for help. In the end, Sunil Kedar, the Minister of State for Sports, arranged the funds for me and I was able to get a prosthetic limb,” she informs.
It wasn’t until she got her artificial limb that she learned it wouldn’t help her play football or hockey again. “I can’t run with this. To do that, I will need a C-shape,” she says and admits that she has now stopped dreaming of being on the pitch again. “There is a torn ligament in my left leg and the right limb is artificial. No need now to tire your legs, ”she reconciles.
But sport is his vocation and it is impossible for him to stay away from the field. “I started to google games that were more suitable for people like me. The internet came up with two options: archery and swimming,” she says.
Of her options, she says: “I learned archery because it’s a game of focus and patience and I have them in abundance now.”
Esther started her practice this month at the District Sports Complex. “I find that my extension and my release are good,” she said.
Having recently passed the junior fellowship exam, Esther’s financial situation will improve considerably as from next year she will receive a stipend of around Rs 35,000 per month. Happy with how things turned out for her, she says, “I survived because of the good people in my life. Now my two goals are to represent India at the Paralympic Games and knock out UPSC,” she said.
Why UPSC? “I realized that more than money, it is authority that helps to change oneself and also society,” she observes.