The career of fighter pilot M P Anil Kumar came to an abrupt end on the night of June 28, 1988. On his way to the officer’s mess at the Pathankot Air Force Station after night flying, the young officer crashed his motorcycle into a wooden barricade. The accident, which left him paralysed neck-down, would have meant the end to most people. Period. Not to Anil, who, with sheer grit and determination, created a new life for himself. And in doing so, he became an inspiration for others like him.
His former classmates at the Sainik School, Kazhakkootam - the 1981 batch - have now produced a documentary on their childhood friend so that the people in Kerala know about this remarkable man. Titled And the Fight Goes On, the 30-minute documentary - directed by Socrates Valath - will be premiered at the Sainik School on Saturday at the 44th alumni meet.
“Anil is familiar in Maharashtra because the students know him from their textbooks. But he is not so familiar here,” said Haridas Nair, a former classmate and one of the producers of And the Fight Goes On.
Anil Kumar, who hails from Chirayinkeezhu, Thiruvananthapuram, shot to fame after he wrote an article, ‘Airborne to Chairborne.’ What was special about it was that he wrote it with the pen clutched in his mouth.
The touching piece was a recollection of that ‘abominable night’ of June 28, 1988. In it, Anil, just 24 at the time, described his feelings after the accident as “a medley of intense frustration, utmost dejection and extreme disappointment.” The article made it to the school textbooks in Maharashtra.
After treatments proved futile, he was discharged from service two years later in April 1990. Since then, he has been living at the Paraplegic Home run by the military at Kirkee, Pune.
“We want this documentary to motivate the younger generation. They are unable to handle even small crises these days. But Anil survived his ordeal and did well. He developed his writing skills and has kept on writing,” Haridas, who is general manager with Toray International, said.
Anil Kumar joined the Sainik School, Kazhakkoottam, at the age of nine. In ‘Airborne to Chairborne’ he describes his younger self as a “slow learner and an unobtrusive performer” who nevertheless excelled in academics and sports. Later, at the National Defence Academy, he was elected the best Air Force cadet.
Confined to a wheel-chair after the freak mishap, Anil Kumar has also trained himself to operate a computer keyboard with a stick held in his mouth. Some years ago, ‘Airborne to Chairborne’ made it to school textbooks in Kerala also thanks to the efforts of the late Varkala Radhakrishnan, then Attingal MP. Much to everyone’s dismay, only an edited version appeared in the texts, though.
The 30-minute And the Fight Goes On also contains brief interviews with former classmates like Brigadier Pradeep Narayanan, a former Commander of the Military Station, Pangode, and with the principal of Sainik School, Kazhakkoottam, Group Captain B Janardhanan.