10-01 2021

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It was a tectonic calamity. A cataclysmic shift of monumental degrees. A change that would define glory.

The stories of Dr. Arunima Sinha and Mount Everest are not so different. Both begin with violence.

It was due to natural forces that two continents collided on Earth’s surface 50 to 60 million years ago. An act that irreversibly altered natural life. Most certainly, it wasn’t an easy phase in Earth’s natural history. Vast landscapes were damaged, animal kingdoms were lost and two continents were injured. But something rose from this primordial conflict. A towering spectacle of this planet. A magnificent symbol of determination, resilience, and glory.

Dr. Arunima Sinha felt all those emotions when she stood at the top of the world. She had risen from the depths of a violent past to stand on Earth’s highest summit. Tall and proud. It was pain, struggle, and grit that led her to the top. All it took was one push.

Dr. Sinha had been a national-level volleyball and football player. Hailing from Ambedkar Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, she had always been driven by strength and tenacity. She was to appear for India’s Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) examination in Delhi. The year was 2011. She boarded the Padmavati Express at Lucknow and took her seat. It was night. Indian rail journeys are filled with stories of dacoits and thieves. Dr. Sinha would soon become a part of those stories.

She wore a gold chain and had a bag with her. She was sitting in the general compartment of the train when some thieves got aboard. They eyed Sinha’s chain and bag. She struggled and resisted. That conflict led to her being pushed out of the running train. Her head landed on the solid steel rail tracks. She could not move. Her leg was lying paralyzed on a parallel track. She saw train lights approaching from a distance. With all her efforts, she attempted to move. She could not. The train rushed over her leg and she lost consciousness.

All it took was one push.

Her leg was amputated below the knee. It took four months to recover at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). She resolved not to stay on that bed for long. To not give up. It was her strength and tenacity that made her look up at Mount Everest. That would be her goal.

She trained silently, avoiding the limelight. Guided by Bachendri Pai, the first Indian woman to climb Everest, she walked the hard path that led her to the top in 2015. Dr. Arunima Sinha became the world's first female amputee to climb Mount Everest. It took her 52 days and one push.

It was resilience in the aftermath of violence, determination during training, and true grit that resulted in glory. Dr. Arunima Sinha performed big, silently. Just like Mount Everest.