Kashish Lakra with her mother and brother in Dubai. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Dubai: No one recollects what exactly happened that late Wednesday evening of November 29 nearly two years ago. But young, wheelchair-bound former wrestler Kashish Lakra only recalls waking up in hospital as though her neck had “been cut off” from her body.

Lakra, who will turn 16 next month, was one of the hopefuls towards a wrestling career when she reportedly slipped during training and landed on her neck damaging her C4-C5 vertebrae. Post-surgery, she is confined to a wheelchair.

Three days prior to the incident, Lakra had been informed of her selection to the wrestling team for the inaugural edition of the ‘Khelo India’ campaign. But fate willed otherwise. Young Lakra was faced with the prospect of battling depression and rueing her fate.

With her mum Anita and brother Ashish — three years her senior — by her side, Kashish set herself up for a painful spate of rehabilitation sessions and finally made a choice of pursuing sporting excellence while taking up the club throw discipline in Para Athletics.

“Life didn’t make any sense to me,” Lakra said. “I just felt like my neck had been cut off from my body, and yet I could hear people giving me directions on what to do. I felt dead. I felt like I had gone somewhere else, and nothing that I could hear made any sense to me then. Till today, I don’t recollect what exactly happened to me. I only knew I was training on the mat [at the Delhi Government-run sports complex in Najafgarh], and the next thing is I am on a hospital bed.

“But I was determined I would survive and live on my terms. Sports and I were meant for each other, so along with my coach [2012 Dhronacharya Awardee Dr Satyapal Singh], I decided on competing in the Club Throw discipline in the F51 category. Nearly two years later, I don’t want to have any regrets. During rehab I saw there were people who were in a much worse position than me. That gave me a lot of hope and I just want to live in the present. I want to live for today.”

Kashish Lakra Alaric Gomes/Gulf News

Initially, medical experts were unsure if she would even be able to even sit on a wheelchair. But recovery has been good, thanks to the resolve shown by the Grade XI homeschooled teenager. “Very often I remember that day even though I don’t want to. But I like to see the positives there. I think of how I would have never ever been where I am today if I had been a wrestler,” she said.

Pursuing a wrestling career, Lakra had also earmarked a career in the Indian Army. “I have achieved so much in such a short time. At 16, I will be in a position to realise my goals of representing India at Paralympic Games. This is something that could have taken much longer as a wrestler,” she said. “Today, I can dream of a Paralympic Games and, of course, a world record in the Club Throw in my F51 category.”