Kerala

‘Baby’ on crutches conquers Kilimanjaro

Finishes mission in seven days, takes a dig at taxation of prosthetic limbs

Neeraj George Baby may need crutches to move around but his steely will needs no such support.

The 32-year-old from Aluva proved it in an emphatic fashion when he conquered the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa at 5,895 metres, on crutches on Wednesday.

“That’s a memorable moment in my life, a five-year-old dream achieved with a lot of pain,” posted Neeraj on Facebook beneath a picture of him at the summit with his crutches spread out like wings. He went on to add that he endured all the pain just to prove that the differently abled without prosthetic limbs could still pursue their dreams, in a veiled barb at the government decision to tax the artificial limbs.

The man’s family, who were on the edge ever since he left for the challenging task, heaved a sigh of relief when he contacted them over video call after his seven-day expedition. “He sounded very happy about achieving his goal, for which he has been preparing with strict diet and exercise.

It would have been so tough for him to scale that height bearing the entire weight of his body on his two hands,” said his sister Nino Baby, a lecturer at UC College. Neeraj chose crutches over prosthetic limbs at some point, as he found them more comfortable without the height difference and friction caused by the latter even though that meant constant wearing out of the bushes beneath the crutches. So, when he headed for Kilimanjaro last Monday, his baggage had not just multiple pairs of crutches but dozens of bushes as well.

Initially, the family didn’t take it seriously when Neeraj, an employee at the Advocate General’s office in Kochi, announced his seemingly improbable challenge — though trekking was nothing new to him, having trekked to Pakshipathalam in Wayanad, Kurinjini peak in Tamil Nadu, and between Munnar and Kodaikanal.

Avid shuttler

In fact, Neeraj, who had a leg amputated at the tender age of nine following a cancerous tumour, always challenged his restricted mobility. He clinched a gold in badminton doubles and silver in singles at the 2008 Asian Para Cup to go along with his titles at national-level tournaments.

But his family realises that the conquest of Kilimanjaro was an altogether different cup of tea and is eagerly awaiting his return on October 25.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 5:46:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/baby-on-crutches-conquers-kilimanjaro/article29728698.ece

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