No legs, indomitable spirit: How this Pune auto-driver is an inspiration to all

Akshay Badwe
Monday, 13 July 2020

Pune’s Nagesh Kale is the Monday Motivation you need during these gloomy COVID-19 times.

Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter, once said, “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”

Pune’s Nagesh Kale, a 27-year-old, can relate to this thought. 

In these stressful times of the pandemic, people like him inspire. The young man lost his legs in a gruesome accident but did that bog him down? 

Even during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kale continues to serve, bringing a ray of positivity. He drives an auto-rickshaw for a living.

In 2013, Kale, then 20, met with a train accident while returning to Pune from Mumbai; as a result, his legs were amputated.

“Someone pushed me from behind while getting off the train. I fell between the train and platform, and I lost my legs,” said Kale.

Kale had lost the motivation to live. Despite his family’s support, the thought of being a burden and remaining cripple paved the path for suicidal thoughts.

“I thought of suicide after the accident happened, I broke down, and I thought of ending my life. When I was in Sassoon hospital for the treatment, my parents had to do everything for me. It was a hard time for me as well as for my parents. At that time also, dark clouds loomed, and I was not sure about my life when I was undergoing the last phase of the treatment,” Kale said. “I was completely dejected when I lost my both legs. My family supported me at every moment, but the thought of depending on others was polluting my mind as I was relying upon them for necessities. With self-determination, I did not lose hope and decided to drive an auto-rickshaw with the help of my friend.”

Kale has urged people to stay strong in the time of distress. He and his family are undergoing a financial crisis amid lockdown. The 27-year-old cannot afford prosthetics. “If I get a long-distance travelling customer, it helps me financially,” he says.

After the accident, Kale admits that he has received support from his mother. The support he got from his family helped him to get back to normal life despite the life-changing incident.

He learned to drive a rickshaw, modified its brake so that he can operate it with hands.

Nagesh lives in More Wasti, Chikhali, with his wife and mother. The family earned around Rs 800 per day before the lockdown. However, the income has dropped to Rs 200-300 now. Though his income is low, the situation has not broken his indomitable spirit.

The COVID-19 outbreak has put a restriction on travel, but Kale has been working extra hard to earn. He picks and drops passengers in places as far as Mumbai. Remaining optimistic, he remains firm on his dream and remains committed to that.

In what can only be viewed as an unexpected consequence of his physical test, living a full life in COVID-19 times, Kale began to motivate customers he transported.

“I found sad passengers, My tale moves them. Now, every afternoon, I visit many places - Wakad, Chinchwad, Pimpri and the Mumbai bypass road to pick passengers up. I talk to them when they feel to talk with me,” Kale adds. “This coronavirus lockdown has depressed many people. Many of them have lost jobs while some are into financial trouble. I thought if I can survive the nastiest disaster of my life, then why can’t people survive through this phase. I decided to support them,” he said.

He has made many friends from customers he has ferried. Many of his customers have also stated that Nagesh Kale’s story is an inspiration to many.

“I am not going to sit back now; I want to march on the ‘road of success’. My dream is to introduce a driving school for specially-abled like me. I want to show them how to brave odds,” Kale concludes.

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