Even as US aircraft started pounding bases of ISIS in Iraq on Friday, a 13-year-old Iraqi boy was recovering in a hospital bed in faraway Gurgaon.
He is back from the jaws of death in his home country. Among many innocent victims of the bloodshed in Iraq, Haidar got caught in a landmine blast.
Thirteen-year-old Haidar Hamid Haloob hails from Iraq’s Alwand village which is on the outskirts of Karbala, bordering the ISIS-controlled Jurf-Al-Sakhar area. Two months ago, he was travelling in a tractor with his family to their fields when a landmine went off leaving him paralysed with a life-threatening shrapnel lodged in his brain. When none of the hospitals in Iraq could remove it, his uncle Mohammad got him to India.
“When Haider came he had a metal piece in his brain. One challenge was that the piece was causing the infection. While taking it out there was a risk of causing an injury to the brain,” Director Neurology Fortis Hospital Sandeep Vaishya said.
Haider’s mother and aunt also suffered critical injuries but the family does not have the funds to finance their treatment. However, his treatment is being funded by his uncle Mohammad.
“I request the Indian and Iraqi goverments to help us in getting Haider’s aunt and mom treated,” Mohammad urged.
Haider’s association with India goes beyond his medical needs. Haider also loves bollywood films. Shahrukh Khan, he says, is his favorite actor. “I love Bollywood films,” he said.
“Past few days have been very painful. Life otherwise, too, has been tough in Iraq, but I have never been scared. Getting scared is not an option for anyone in Iraq,” Haider said.
Such is the spirit of this braveheart that he is eager to return to his home at the earliest even as the crisis back home continues to escalate. “I want to go back. Even though lot of violence is happening but my family is there. I’m feeling good here. I’m thankful to Indian doctors but I want to go back to my school,” he said.
It is a proud moment for India, a satisfactory one for the doctors and respite for a family who hails from a region where death has become an everyday phenomenon. The hospital is giving him the bolt taken out from his head as souvenir but Haidar says it’s the memories and a new life that he has got in India that he is going to cherish for his entire life.