Hari Budha Magar (Photo: Nepalkhabar)
British Gurkha soldier Hari Bahadur Budha Magar thought this when he lost both his legs in the Afghan war, "I must have made a mistake in my previous birth. I was punished for the same."
He was disturbed for a while. Relatives also started treating him like a helpless person. He felt different behavior from people. However, nothing deterred him from moving forward in life.
Gradually, he mustered his self-strength. He thought something could be done with artificial legs. He started adventure sports. Started skiing, and climbing small mountains.
Disability is a natural thing. It is not possible to hide it. "Should we hide the disability or live a creative life?" he asked himself.
Born in Rolpa in 1979, Budha used to dream of climbing Dhaulagiri. His childhood dream was not fulfilled. However, now he has scaled Mt. Everest, the highest peak or the world. With the help of an artificial leg, he dared to climb the mountain, materializing his childhood dream.
Budha Magar was quite excited when he reached Everest Base Camp. He was confident that he would definitely reach the top. However, the weather turned bad. Had to spend 18 days in the base camp. It was extremely difficult.
He would look up at a high mountain from the base camp and imagine reaching the summit.
He looked at the harshness of nature with a strained gaze, and was oblivious to the transience of life.
"We are nothing before nature," he says, "a stone hits us on the head and life is over."
Finally, it was time to start climbing. He proceeded from the base camp. It took him 11 hours to reach Camp 1. This time was challenging and dangerous. An 'icefall' could happen at any time.
The bodies of those who died were on the way when they went to hang the ropes to make it easier for the climbers.
They were not deterred by all this. He did not lose the courage to say "I have to do it". And continued climbing.
The closer he got to the top, the more confident he became of his success.
"I was wearing big goggles, I was crying inside," he remembered the moment he reached atop the world, "the tears were frozen."
He hugged and thanked the Sherpa who helped him reach the summit.
"I cried like a child," he is still emotional when describing the feeling at that time, "I thought the family would be proud."
He spent 7-8 minutes at the peak. Tried to take a photo of climbing the highest peak. Mobile did not work. Two GoPro cameras were taken. One didn't work.
"We were able to take a record-breaking photo with a GoPro," he said describing the experience of being at a height of 8,848.86 meters.
He wanted to tell his wife the news that he had achieved success from the peak. Contacted wife via satellite phone. Unfortunately, no one picked up the phone. Then he called the camp manager and told him that he had achieved success.
After a successful climb, he tried to descend quickly. He ran out of oxygen. Mingma Sherpa, who has climbed Everest 8 times, gave him oxygen that would last for a while. Descended to base camp after the manager delivered oxygen.
Motivation for people with disabilities
He believes that his success will inspire people with disabilities.
"I became emotional with the thought that not only Budha Magar, but also people with disabilities can reach the summit," he says, "I don't cry in pain but I cried a lot when I was happy."
He is always emotional when it comes to family and country. His wife believed that Hari could climb Mt. Everest. But she was worried that something might happen to him. After two days, he could barely talk to his wife.
"I just reached atop and got down," he said.
The wife said that she had already received the information, "Yesterday, I fell asleep happily after a few days."
A person who was banned from climbing was not allowed to fail.
He only wanted to raise public awareness about disability. There was no one to help me climb the mountain. Sponsors are increasing while climbing smaller mountains.
Anything is possible in life. It's just the way to do it when you have legs is different and the way you don't have it,' he says, encouraging the disabled person.
Even while climbing Mt. Everest, he was advised by his western friends to do it from China. He suggested that it would be easier from there. But he was adamant that he was a Nepali, born in Nepal, and should climb from Nepal.
He started the Everest climbing expedition in 2018. However, Nepal's mountaineering laws stopped him. People without both legs were prohibited from climbing mountains. He filed a case in court. After the court ordered that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against, the way to ascend was opened. Now after returning from climbing, Tourism Minister Sudan Kirati came to Tribhuvan International Airport to welcome him.
The Prime Minister honored him by calling him to his office. President Ram Chandra Paudel congratulated Budha Magar. Happiness knew no bounds when the government that banned it earlier now respects it.
"They used to say that you are disabled, you cannot climb mountains, "he recounts, "They would say that the law was right. So there was no chance of failure."
Rather than making a record, he wants to focus on how to empower people with disabilities throughout his life.