There are dreams and then there are disabilities. Most of us would think that the twain would never meet. That’s for the average person like you or me; but not for somebody like a 48-year-old Trivandrum based biker who doubles up as an accountant, in his day job. This man is not ordinary by any standards and neither does he wish to live a life less ordinary.
He was in his mid-thirties when he lost one of his legs to a freak accident, being hit by a truck while driving in the dead of night in his hometown Trivandrum. It was raining in bits and the roads were dark and deserted when he was hit with full force and left half-conscious and bleeding by the roadside as the truck driver played truant and ran.
It was only after half an hour or so that some people walking down that road, saw Nishad Madanan, lying there and took him to the hospital. 20 days later, he was discharged and sent home, with the news that he had lost one of his legs forever and his life had at that moment changed forever. It was something that he would never forget in his life and yet this did not stop him from realizing his dreams.
Last year when Covid 19 turned around everybody’s lives upside down, this gritty man used it as an opportunity to do what he had always wanted to do. He completed his solo tour of India, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, on his bike, with a prosthetic leg. He says the reason was to motivate and inspire people with disabilities to be able to fulfil any dream they might have, no matter how impossible it looked and to also conquer their fears of not being able to lead an independent life.
He says this is just the beginning and it did take him some time to finally realise it but he is planning to do more such tours to create awareness and also be a living example of how you cannot let a disability rule your life. “I have an amazing family and all of us love to bike. So when my accident happened, it was a setback for sure but nothing that could deter my will and purpose. My life changed drastically after my accident. I became dependent on almost everything and recovery was a slow process and at times, I did doubt whether normalcy would return, but my solo bike tour has restored my confidence and I hope I have been able to give courage to others, says the man who loves gymming and martial arts.
Another of his passions is powerlifting where he won the Kerala State Championship in this sport category for two years in a row, of course much before he suffered the setback with his accident.
His family of four has, however, been nothing but supportive throughout the whole debacle and like his wife Rajeela says, “Nishad is a man of passion so whatever he does, he puts his whole heart and soul into it. His solo bike tour will lead to many more and the goal is to create awareness that disabilities are not a barrier, else a man with one leg cannot ride from the length and breadth of the whole country, all by himself with just one leg.”
His son and daughter, along with his wife, are also bikers with a passion and they are looking forward to the day when the whole family completes an India tour on their bikes. Says his son Binsha, “At first we did think that his accident would affect his passion for biking but slowly as we watched him make progress, we knew it was only a matter of time before he picked up his helmet and biked all over India. That he went on a solo tour, would have been of concern otherwise but we know our father and trusted that he would be able to pull this off. We are so proud of him!”
Madanan has otherwise been working as an accountant in the UAE, where even his daughter is in the same profession. Following Covid and the subsequent lockdown, the whole family returned to their hometown Trivandrum, where he realized there was no better time than now, to give fruition to his dreams of a solo India biking tour.
He set off from Kanyakumari, the southernmost point of India, on January 25th, 2020 and reached the highest northern point of the country, Kashmir on February 29, in a total of 33 days, covering a distance of 8600 kilometres, on the commonly known as Bullet or the Royal 500cc Enfield Bike, with a total expense of Rs 50,000.
He says the whole tour and getting the new bike has been an expensive affair for a man of his means but he knew he had to do it. For the people who need encouragement because they let disabilities take over their lives and at the same time, for themselves. “I want to partner with NGOs, do more bike tours, by myself, with my family of bikers or even people like me who are physically challenged so that we can actually feel that we are not missing out on life, because of our conditions. The idea is to inspire confidence that everybody can be a biker if one loves riding,” explains Nishad who says that there were physical difficulties but when one sets one mind to it, nothing is impossible.
“I would ride the whole day, on my India bike tour, and take very small breaks in between, as I did not want to waste time. I would set off at 6 am in the morning and call it a day only by 7 pm when I would book a room online and rest for the day. The next morning again I followed the same schedule and by 33 days, my solo tour was complete,” he says.
In what can be called nothing but pure grit and courage in the face of odds, Nishad is again planning another bike tour very soon, though he says funds are a constraint for him and therefore he has to take it a bit slow. “I have been planning this for years and I’m glad I did it but there’s so much more to do and I hope I can fulfil all those dreams too. When my accident happened, the doctors told me that I had two choices since my ligaments were completely damaged; either I used a crutch or a prosthetic leg. I opted for the latter as I knew I could not stop myself from regaining my mobility in any way and that was possible only through the artificial leg.”
As of now, Nishad has fulfilled one of his dreams and is looking forward to what the rest of his life has to offer, disability or not and when he is not indulging in his first love, biking, he is content with his other passions like sketching and cooking up a storm with his delicious biryanis that he learnt, when he lived and worked in the UAE.
Being a chef can be my alternate profession now, Inshallah, I think, he says in his thick booming, good-natured voice, as he signs off.