Divyasa Mishra- commendable entry in age category 12-14 years
Age Defying Heroism

Natural disasters occur every now and then. For some these disasters cause just destruction and death. For others it becomes an opportunity to show heroism. One such story is of 12 year old Reshma and her brother Ritesh who lived in Gujarat.


7:45 AM – at 6th January 2001
Reshma  was going to the super-market with her family.  Just as they were about to step outdoors, she suddenly felt as if the earth beneath her feet was shaking.  She felt dizzy. “Mom, Dad, I just felt as if the earth is shaking.” Said Reshma. She said “This had happened yesterday too! My Ma’am told me that prior to a big earthquake there are quakes of the smaller version.” Do you think that may be….?!” Her mother stopped her from completing the sentence. She smiled in a reassuring way and said “ Dear, I think you should rest. You don’t eat well, maybe you are feeling weak.” So Reshma went back  into the house, climbed into her bed and pulled a quilt over herself. While she rested her family left for the super-market as there were some important items to be purchased from the market. Her mother felt that Reshma would feel better if she got some undisturbed sleep in their absence. After fidgeting in her bed for 15 minutes Reshma fell into a deep slumber at around 8 AM. She had completely covered herself from head to toe under that thick quilt- something her mother had asked her not to do many times earlier. After about 45 minutes she felt as if someone was shaking her. She thought it must be her mother. She woke up with a smile on her lips ready for mothers loving warm hug. She was surprised to see herself surrounded by ruins all around. She got up with a fright. Her house was just a rubble of bricks and cement. There was no wall left intact. She could see everything of the outside world. She saw people running around screaming, dead bodies, ruins, building and street lights falling.  Reshma just wished one thing “God! Let this be a dream.” She pinched herself on the arm. It pained very much. This was definitely not a dream. She realized that the thick quilt she had covered herself with while sleeping had protected her by acting as a shield. She remembered that her family was in the super-market. Her family -her whole world was in deep danger! She stood up, threw the quilt over herself and went to the super-market.
On her way she saw that the roads had large, deep cracks and bricks were falling from the building. Seeing this, Reshma kept a tighter grip on her quilt. When she reached the super-market it was no longer a super-market. It was just a pile of ruins. Reshma burst into tears.  “Reshma, Reshma” Just then she heard a terrified voice calling. She turned around. It was Ritesh!  Only that Ritesh was covered in dust and dirt all over. She saw her running towards her, tripping, crawling and jumping over the ruins. Reshma gave her brother a tight hug and then asked him anxiously, “Where are Mom and Dad?” Ritesh looked worried and frightened, “I don’t know. I have been looking for them for so long.” he answered. They searched for hours in the rubble. Just as they were about to give up all hopes, they heard someone cry. They followed the cry. The closer they got the cry sounded more and more familiar.
Then they said together, “ Mum, Dad are you there?” Reshma heard her Dad’s voice, “ Reshma, Ritesh are you Ok. Mum and I are stuck here.”
“Where?”Called out Ritesh.  “Dear look down”, called out his Mum. They looked down. They saw that the ground floor of the super-market had gone meters beneath from where it should have been. Ruins seemed to have grown above it. The entire ground floor seemed to have sunken down as a unit and then cocooned with the rubble’s. The bulbs were fused and shelves had fallen down. Reshma peeped more through the small hole from which they heard the voice come. Reshma could see dead bodies spread out. Some were unconscious and injured severely. However with the grace of God she could see that her parents were safe, though they were very scared and badly bruised.  She called back to her parents from the gap between the ruins. “Hold on I will go and get some rescuers I saw on my way here.” Her parents nodded, and then she turned to Ritesh and said, “I want you to stay here and give hope to Mom and Dad.” She paused for a moment and saw the building and ruins still crumbling and falling at a distance.  She
threw the quilt she had with her over Ritesh and said, “This will protect you.”
Without wasting a moment she ran to get the rescuers. It was hard for her to walk over the ruins but she never thought of her pain. She finally spotted a rescuer. She ran to him and almost screamed at him saying, “ Please Help Me! My parents and many others are trapped under the ruins of the super-market. My younger brother is waiting for me.”  The rescuers was a kind person, he calmed her down and told her, “ Go and take care of your brother. I will get some other rescuers and come as soon as possible.” He gave Reshma a helmet. She wore it and ran to her brother.
They had to wait only for a few minutes as the rescuers arrived soon. They even had a crane with them. The crane suddenly stopped working.  One of the rescuers looked under the crane to check what happened.  He informed the others, “ A big rock has got stuck in there. None of us can reach it. The gap is too narrow.” Resma offered to help, but even she was too big for that gap. Seeing all this 7 year old Ritesh couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “I’ll do it.” He said with confidence. All the rescuers looked at him with surprise and asked, “ Are you sure?”  Ritesh nodded. Reshma hugged her and patted him in the back saying, “Be careful!” Ritesh called under the crane. The rock was too heavy for a 7 year old to push. Yet Ritesh had not given up. He managed to push it a short distance. Now a small portion of the rock. The rescuers then helped to pull it out. Everyone was full of praises for Ritesh. The crane was all set to work. It pulled out the heavy rocks and rubble one by one. The small gap through which Reshma and Ritesh’s voice had come out was now big enough for a grown man to go in. The rescuers then climbed down and took out Reshma’s Parents and the other. Reshma , Ritesh and their parents were united. They hugged each other as if there will be no
tomorrow. It was Reshma’s father who spoke first, “We need to get out of this place. We need to get out of Gujrat! Everyone to the airport.” Reshma pleaded, “ But Dad we have to help the others”  Seeing his little brave girl speak like this, her father smiled and nodded.
The whole family stayed in the rescue camps for 3 days to volunteer for 3 days. As Reshma and Ritesh’s house was completely ruined, they caught the flight and went to stay in their other house in Mumbai.

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