A young football fan in search of artificial limb

Kathiravan Ponraj  

Kathiravan Ponraj always loved to watch football.

Not the high-octane European leagues on television. Rather, the organic and often messy contests in the neighbourhood live.

Such a visit to the Ambedkar Stadium in March to watch his cousin play changed the 15-year-old’s life forever. A sudden bout of summer showers had him squirrelling for cover under a huge shade tree that tumbled down in the strong wind tragically trapping him under.

Over two months of hospital life later, the youngster now moves around in a walker with an amputated left leg and a heavily fractured right that has healed just enough.

His teachers, old students, and Customs (he was a member of the Customs Cadet Corps) helped in his treatment. Now, he needs a prosthetic leg, which may cost nearly ₹5 lakh and is beyond the means of his impoverished parents doing casual jobs.

Kathiravan, originally from near Madurai, however, manages to remain upbeat even as he pursues online classes. “I want to complete Plus Two and then decide what to do. My teachers and friends have been very supportive,” he said.

Large-hearted people have managed a fixed deposit of ₹80,000 for his future use. But without an artificial limb the future looks bleak.

“People who had pledged support seem to have backtracked probably because of the impact of the lockdown. We are doing our bit, but that would not be enough,” said Brailey Chandra Balan, a former student and teacher of SRV High School, who has been mobilising resources for the youngster from the very beginning.

Rani P.V., a teacher who frequently visits Kathiravan at his rented home at Gandhi Nagar, is desperate to see her ward walk again. “We have been by his side since the tragedy and cannot leave him in the lurch now,” she said.

Meanwhile, the tragedy has not made Kathiravan spiteful of football though he now needs support to go out and watch it. “Yes, I may not be able to play it with friends any more,” he said as an afterthought with a tinge of sadness.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 7:42:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/a-young-football-fan-in-search-of-artificial-limb/article34875084.ece

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