Eight years ago, in August when his doctor told Rajkumar to undergo a surgery on a date prior to the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, he did not hesitate to request him to postpone it to a date after the race. So that year also, he watched the Race, not as a rower in a boat participating in the Race as he was off for a couple of years due to the treatment for his cancerous growth on his leg. After that he underwent the surgery that lost a portion of his right leg from knee downwards, but restored his life and helped him return to his passion: as a rower in boat races.
A couple of years later, after a gap of nearly five years, he was back as a professional rower and was in the race helping his new club, Central Boat Club (CBC), Kainakary’s boat ‘Ambalakadavan’ finish second in the Veppu A grade boat category in the just concluded Champakulam Moolam Boat Race. Now he is gearing up for participating in the Veppu A grade boat category in the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in the boat, ‘Ambalakadavan’.
Though absence of a portion of a leg is not a handicap for rowing a boat, but for a race like competition it is Rajkumar’s (32) determination and positive attitude that saw him row the Veppu A grade boat, considered to be three-fourths of a chundan (snake boat). More than 15 years as a rower, Rajkumar had rowed in chundans including Champakulam, Cheruthana, Payippad, Karichal and Anari. “In an area like Kuttanad, rowing is second nature to even children. There were very few roads in my childhood. I never walked to my school, it is swimming or rowing on a boat,” Rajkumar, affectionately called `Rajaji’ says sitting in his house in Kainakary.
The youngest of the three sons of his father, Rajkumar used to represent the district in the volleyball championship. With wife Lekha helping him pursue his passion, Rajaji is busy for the next few weeks.
He fervently prays that his club CBC and also his home club, United Boat Club (UBC), Kainakary whose snakeboat lifted the Nehru Trophy a large number of times, come out successful in the ensuing Nehru Trophy boat race. As a beaming Rajaji slices the turbulent waters of life with the paddle of determination, other rowers are left far behind.