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Nilesh Shikre: 'Shine on me India'

Nilesh Shikre: 'Shine on me India'

Nilesh Shikre, a resident of a village of South Goa, sets out to distribute newspapers to residents of Cuncolim on his cycle everyday. The 20-year-old has lost part of his arm. The gallant youth is a victim of poverty and ignorance.

EVERYTHING WAS normal for 20-year-old Nilesh Shikre nine years back, until tragedy struck him on a cold winter afternoon of October 9, 1999. From that day onwards, Shikre’s world turned upside down. Although, Nilesh survived to tell his tale, but the accident had its fallout. His arms bore the brunt of the accident. He has lost part of his arm. The playful act of meddling with the high-tension wires, running overhead their two-room palm-leaf hut in the Indian state of Goa, has turned into an agonising trauma for the youth. Scars left from the accident, which he now carries, still remind him of that day.

In Focus Ever since the accident occurred, he has not been able to use his arms the normal way and as his nerve endings suffered irreparable damage, doctors had to amputate one of the arms from the forearm, while his other arm has stopped developing from the day the accident occurred. Over the years, he has been trying to live normally in spite of the deformity. But the loss of one arm and the deformity in another have not deterred the Goa resident’s fight to lead a normal life. He is now a newspaper delivery boy in our village, Cuncolim, who delivers newspapers door to door on his bicycle. His day starts at 5.30 am, when he cycles his way from his home in Panzorconi to Cuncolim bazaar – a distance of three kilometres – to collect newspapers from Kunde Newspaper agent and thereon delivers to several households in Cuncolim. Immaterial of rains or the bitter cold, he carries on. He has no choice, after all. With no education and with arms, which could not take up to a menial job, newspaper delivery job was the easiest option. The accident was Nilesh’s own undoing and largely fallout of urbanisation. The teenager was blissfully ignorant of the fact that electricity wires, which ran overhead their house, were high-tension electricity wires. Nilesh tried to catch hold of the wires by jumping from a nearby tree. He was thrown a few metres away by the high-tension wires and the arms suffered an irreparable damage. If Nilesh was unaware of the consequences of playing with the high-tension wires, his parents too were in the dark over the risk of the high-tension wires. They never went to school. The Shikres hail from on Gawli community. The community, which generations back settled in Panzroconi Cuncolim, had a profession of tending goats and living off the profits from the business. Six decades ago, the goats’ milk business was roaring but the same is not the case now. Modernisation has taken its toll. From maintaining around 200-300 livestock, the Shikres have now just 20-30 odd goats to manage. The returns from the business are barely sufficient for survival. The Shikres have been compelled to move to other menial jobs to make a living. Nine years ago, Nilesh, as an 11-year old youth, used to indulge in all the fun and the frolic that children of his age like to indulge in. Plucking coconuts, bringing mangoes down through stones in the summer April-May holidays. He also helped his family occasionally in herding the diminishing livestock of goats. He used to swim in the nearby rivulets, play football and cricket all of which he longs to do but due to circumstances, some of the things he has to give a miss. He still plays football with local youngsters in the evening and wields the cricket bat with the ’deformed’ one hand. His 17-year-old younger brother, Babloo, who studies in higher secondary school, says, “He is a good football player and used to be a good cricket player earlier but now it is difficult for him to play cricket, as his arm has refused to develop after the accident, which makes it difficult for him to take a proper stance to face the cricket ball.” But more than playing cricket and football, Nilesh’s well-wishers fear that he needs an expert opinion on the damaged arms lest he lose what he has now. Over the years, Nilesh and his parents have not gone to the door steps of politicians to seek help. Many local municipal council officials and Goa legislative assembly elections’ hopefuls have come to their doorsteps promising the sun and the moon for the family and especially to Nilesh. But those were empty promises. Nilesh, till then, carries on with his fight for survival. Will his damaged arms bear the burnt of the load over the coming years without getting adequate medical attention, is a question best answered by the doctors and for that Nilesh needs to be coaxed to go in for an expert doctor’s opinion. That is not the only hindrance. Funds to consult a doctor is beyond the reach of this newspaper boy.

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