Ask seven-year-old M. Nandana how she had managed to rescue 10-year-old Vishak from drowning in a pond, her only answer would be a wide gummy smile. Young she may be, with the permanent teeth yet to replace her missing milk teeth, but she courageously put her own life at risk to save a boy who was older to her.
Nandana, hailing from Kottiyam in Kollam, is this year’s youngest recipient of Kerala State Bravery Award for the year 2012. She spoke to The Hindu after receiving the award from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at a function organised by the Kerala State Child Welfare Council in the city on Wednesday.
“I heard someone crying near the pond and when I went to look, I saw him going deep [into the pond]. I gave him my hand and pulled hard,” Nandana said. Vishak, who was returning from school on February 25, 2012, slipped and fell into the Erathu ‘chira,’ which was close to Nandana’s house.
Her mother Baby Manikantan said the family was yet to figure out how little Nandana managed to pull the boy out from the pond, where similar accidents had occurred earlier.
“The area from where she pulled him out is so dangerous that she herself might have fallen into the pond. The boy was heavier than her and was carrying his school bag,” Ms. Baby said. In fact, when Nandana received a mild bashing for venturing out on her own, she said she knew she could do it and that God had given her the power.
Ever since the incident, little Nandana has been behind her parents with a request — to learn swimming. She said she would be able to save more people in future if she learned to swim.