Sanoj P.R., a PhD student in Hindi at the University of Calicut, got in touch with Prakash Gopinath of the Indus Cycling Embassy over phone two weeks ago and expressed his desire to learn cycling.
Ten years ago, Sanoj’s left arm was amputated after he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Without the use of an arm, he was apprehensive if he would be able to ride a bicycle, but Prakash assured him it might take longer than usual but was definitely possible. He also asked Sanoj to come down to the city for a few days. Last Wednesday, Sanoj arrived at Prakash’s house and as Prakash had predicted, he took only four days to learn to ride. For the past few days, he has been cycling the city roads to get more practice.
While Sanoj had learnt to ride a bicycle, he did wonder what he would do after going back to Kozhikode since he did not own a bicycle nor did he have the means to buy one.
Top rank-holder in MA and topper again in the PhD entrance examination of the University of Calicut, Sanoj has no close family to speak of but for a grandmother. His research guide has found him accommodation and helps him financially too.
Unknown to Sanoj, the Indus Cycling Embassy, which has been gifting cycles to students in the district, decided to collect funds from friends and well-wishers to buy him a bicycle.
They managed to raise ₹22,300, of which ₹6,800 was spent on the cycle, modifications, and the helmet, with the cycle store throwing in a good discount. A cheque for the remaining amount was made out in his name.
Mayor V.K. Prasanth handed over the bicycle to Sanoj on the Corporation premises on Thursday while Deputy Mayor Rakhi Ravikumar handed over the cheque to him. Says Sanoj, “It was a surprise. Prakash casually mentioned meeting the Mayor, but only when I reached there did I get to know about the bicycle.”
Trial and error
The bicycle, Prakash says, has been modified to suit Sanoj’s requirements. Its front brake, back brake, and gear are in the right handle. This necessitated a lot of trial and error so that Sanoj could use them comfortably.
Sanoj says he had been practising without using his artificial limb, but when he tried riding with the limb on, he started feeling its weight. The next few days will be spent in getting accustomed to the limb while riding.
The 25-year-old student says that after returning to Kozhikode by train on Monday, he plans to ride his bicycle from where he lives to the university department.