Best Air Force cadet of 65th course of National Defence Academy, Pune. Best in aerobatics of 134th Pilots Course of Air Force Academy, Secunderabad. Commissioned into the IAF as fighter pilot in 1984 in his early 20s. Had 700 hours of flying experience, including 500 hours of flying MiG-21.
The dreams of M P Anil Kumar, who passed out from Sainik School, Kazhakoottam, Thiruvananthapuram, crash-landed in 1988 when he met with a road accident at Pathankot that broke his cervical spine and left him paralyzed down the neck.
At 26, he was admitted to the Paraplegic Home in Pune. The accident could however paralyze only his body, not his spirits. After much efforts, he learned to write holding a pen in his mouth.
He started pouring out his mind through his mouth until it became legible. An essay he wrote, ‘Airborne to Chairborne’ won first place in a contest held by the Citizen magazine, a fortnightly which used to be distributed along with The Indian Express, Pune edition. The scanned copy of the mouth-written piece was published in 1993 Citizen annual number. The essay was included in the Maharashtra school syllabus from the academic year 1995-96.
Later he switched to using a computer and wrote umpteen articles for various newspapers and websites.
I may be one of the last persons to know about him. But I’m glad that I came to know about him a few weeks ago from a friend of mine who studied in Sainik School. Giving a google search for ‘Airborne to Chairborne’, I read the article of inspiration several times.
He stood as a mighty mountain in front of me and I felt reduced to mustard size with my trivial problems and a fully mobile body! Hats off to Anil Kumar, who wrote in his essay:
“Believe it or not, every dark cloud has a silver lining. To surmount even seemingly insuperable obstacles, one has to muster the remnant faculties and shun the thought of disability and then canalise one's dormant energies purposefully and whole-heartedly. It isn't just physical ability and average intelligence but an insatiable appetite for success and an unflagging will power that would texture the warp and woof of the fabric called human destiny. Greater the difficulty, sweeter the victory.”