He was eight when he lost both his arms in a machine accident. Twelve years later, he is a cricketer playing for his state, batting, bowling and fielding with ease found in few among his able - bodied peers. South Kashmir resident Aamir Hussain, 20, has confounded the people in Bijbehara, 45 km from Srinagar, with his amazing abilities in cricket to which he took as a devoted fan of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
Aamir is a resident of Waghama village near Bijbhehar on the banks of the Jhelum river, which is part of the Kashmir Valley belt that specialises in making the famed Kashmir Willow bat.
Young boys here take to ball and bat at a young age, going out to the field whenever they find the opportunity.
Parvez Rasool - - the first Jammu and Kashmir cricketer to find a place in the Indian national team - - too hails from Bijbehara.
For Aamir, his dream of becoming a cricketer would have been cut short suddenly when he lost both his arms from the shoulders while playing near a bandsaw machine at a willow - cutting unit.
For Aamir's parents - Bashir Ahmad Lone and Raja Begum - the accident was a huge shock. His father, a farm labour, sold almost his entire property to save his son - - second among five siblings comprising four sons and a daughter.
Aamir remained restricted to a hospital bed for almost three years.
After the young boy got out, he learnt how to live life as a differently - abled person - - with his doting grandmother assisting him at each step of the torturous rehabilitation process.
Aamir learnt to perform daily chores - - so easy for a normal - bodied person - - with his lower limbs. Slowly, but surely, he began picking up objects with his feet and, over a period of time, could lift a glass full of water to his lips, wash himself and even comb his hair.
"It took me two years to learn to do all things by myself. Now I do them easily without anyone's help, " Aamir told IANS.
He also learnt to hold a pen with his foot to write and paint with a brush.
"Initially, I found it very hard to write. But I had no other option. I wanted to prove myself, " Aamir said.
Despite hardships, Aamir again picked up his interrupted studies and cleared his class 10 and 12 examinations. He took each difficulty he faced in life as a challenge - - even learning to swim after seeing how the ducks paddled.
Yet his dream of being a cricketer had not quite died down. He developed a unique style of holding the bat between his neck and shoulder, to effectively tackle the bowling. He also acquired another remarkable ability - - to hold the red cherry in his toes and hurl it as a leg spin, swinging his foot from the hip.
As to fielding, he does it with aplomb, using his feet dexterously to stop the ball or catch it.
Because of his extraordinary bowling and batting skills, he was picked up for the Jammu and Kashmir para - cricket team in 2013 and soon appointed captain of the squad.
The devastating floods of 2014 in the Kashmir Valley kept Aamir away from cricket for a year but the state team management did not allow him to remain away from the game for long.
Aamir skippered the state team at the 2015 inter - state para - cricket tournament in Lucknow where his team won against Manipur. His performance was greatly appreciated at the tournament by everyone.
Having played in Jammu, Delhi and Lucknow, Aamir now has his sights set on foreign venues representing India at International Para - Cricket tournaments.
Aamir's struggle for a normal life against all odds is the story of an extraordinary achievement which is likely to inspire several others in the state and elsewhere.
(Aadil Mir can be contacted at aadil. hussain@ians. in)