M A I N   N E W S

Struck by tragedy, he’s driving home the safety point
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Arrive Safe. Nobody understands the meaning of these words better than 41-year-old Harman Sidhu. Almost 15 years after an accident and 70 surgeries later, he still can’t stand on his feet.

A strapping 26-year-old man, Sidhu was all set to give wings to his dreams. A few days to go and he would have been in Canada working on setting up his business of air compressors. That was in the summer of 1996.

But that was not to be. It was as if circumstances connived to ground his flight before it took wings.

One outing in the hills with his three friends changed everything forever. As their car rolled down a gorge in the dead of the night, the wild cats the friends had hoped to catch a glimpse of, were forgotten. All that remained was the mangled remains of a car, three friends with minor injuries and an immovable Sidhu, stuck inside.

“It was frightening. I couldn’t move at all. They helped me out and we travelled in a truck, then in a jeep and finally managed to get an ambulance which brought me here. My parents were devastated. I was wheeled into hospital with an irreparably damaged spine. Everybody knew I would never be able to walk but I was fed on hope because nobody wanted to break this news to me. The doctors told me it would take me one to five years to recover. I never did and it was only six months later that the realisation dawned on me,” Sidhu says, fiddling with a remote control to monitor the ongoing construction of his house in the neighbourhood on his television set from his bed (he had installed cameras on all the three floors under construction).

Recuperating after one of the many surgeries, he is an epitome of resilience of the human spirit which can conquer all odds to come out right on top if it so desires. As he lies on the bed, recalling the days, months and years after the accident, one could almost feel his pain and the emptiness with which he looked into his future.

“How much television can you watch? I was completely immobile. Imagine my suffering when something as easy as lifting a paper required immense effort and left me enervated for three hours. My brother then bought me a computer and I played games. Gradually, my fingers began to move and I started learning web designing from the net,” he said.

Sidhu dabbled in designing websites for a few clients but his calling lay elsewhere. It lay in celebrating the life God had saved for a purpose and he made road safety his mission.

“As a youngster zipping in and out of home on a mobike, traffic rules were not something I thought of. An accident only meant a broken leg, three months of plaster and nothing more. Today, I realise I was wrong. That’s why I made ‘Arrive Safe’ my mission. It is an NGO that works to educate school-children and new drivers about road safety because all families with somebody on the road want them home safe,” he explained.

Sidhu, also roped in as the brand ambassador of the Haryana Police on road safety, has worked on several projects including preparation of a database of habitual offenders across the state.

“I’ve designed promotional tests for police personnel and a human resource management system. But the most ambitious project is that of compiling data of traffic offenders and facilitating its access to the police across districts. We are working on it,” Sidhu says.

Not everybody lives through a fatal accident. Those who do hardly have the verve and enthusiasm to rebuild their lives from scratch despite handicaps. Sidhu lives to translate his personal pain to drive home the point- “Arrive Safe” because somebody is always waiting at home.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |