Sudharshan Gautam has a message for those who have limbs intact: "It doesn't make a difference what you have and what you don't. If there is a will there is a way."
Sudharshan came to Kathmandu as a lad of 16 from his village in Ramechhap. He was flying a kite from his roof when he fell right on a high voltage wire. Rushed to hospital, doctors had to amputate both his hands.
While recovering from the accident, Sudharshan taught himself to write, eat, and drink with his toes. He gave his SLC exams from his village in 1996, and passed in second division although the rest of his class failed. "I felt as though I had conquered the world," he recalls. Since then there has been no stopping Sudharshan. He is in his third year in a Bachelor in Business Studies program in Kathmandu. "I had no choice, I decided to teach myself to use my legs as my hands," he says.
But even with all his will power and strength, things have not been easy. There were many dead-ends, and days of despair. But now with Only At Nepal, a private internet outfit that promotes social causes (www.onlyatnepal.com) he approached Toyota for help. On Saturday, 7 September, Sudharshan will take off in a brand new Toyota Echo from the Birendra International Convention Hall and drive along Baneswore using his legs to establish a record in the Guinness Book of World Records. "If others can do it, why can't I?" asks Sudharshan who took a month to learn driving with his feet.
He doesn't have a license yet, but Sudharshan already thinks the sky is the limit. His next goal: to fly an aeroplane with his legs-something he has dreamt about all his life. "More than ever, I want to be able to do it now," he says.
Sudharshan wants to show he doesn't really need hands and has rejected offers to try out artificial limbs.
Sudharshan always had an activist streak, and he wants to dedicate his life to improve living standards in his village of Gunsie in Ramechhap. But isn't having no hands a disadvantage? "No way. I don't feel I don't have hands at all."