Kochi: Even as parts of Kerala are reeling under floods and landslides for the second straight year now, many are yet to come to terms with the life-altering tragedy and near-death scenarios as their houses were marooned during last year's deluge.
Even as over 500 people died in the natural calamity in August 2018, thousands were rescued by the public, fishermen and military personnel. Amid deaths, births too were reported, some in relief centres and in hospitals were a few rescued women were rushed. Notably, some such births were reported from places such as those in Ernakulam district and elsewhere which were badly hit by floods last time. Even amid the overwhelming gloom last year, around the same time, the birth of a child was one of the few bright spots that cheered up Keralites even as they try to cope this year too.
Onmanorama recalls here the stories of some babies who were born as everything around was submerged last year. They survived the floods and they are celebrating their first birthday this month.
Aamiya Barisha of Vythiri
Sajna was nine-month-pregnant when the flood waters engulfed their home at Vythiri in Wayanad district. The fire and rescue team had to navigate through the gushing waters to bring her to Kalpetta hospital. Aamiya Barisha was born a day later, on August 8, 2018. Her name's meaning translates to 'rain of happiness'.
The happy, smiling baby celebrated her birthday the past week oblivious to the second deluge that was inundating Kerala.
Sidharth of Palakkad
This teething one-year-old was born to Santhosh and Manjusha at a hospital in Palakkad. Manjusha was taken for delivery to the hospital from a relief camp as their house at Sundaram Colony in Palakkad had been submerged in the floods.
Subahan of Aluva
Subahan, son of Jabeel K Jaleel and Sajitha of Aluva, was born after a chopper rescue.
When flood waters submerged their house, Sajitha sought refuge on the upper floor of the Kondotty Juma Masjid in Aluva on August 17, 2018. She was carrying and the date of delivery was fast approaching.
“Around 700 people had assembled in the mosque at that time. The next day, our location was sent to the authorities by WhatsApp. Around 9.30 am, a helicopter rescued Sajitha and took her to the Naval Hospital in Kochi,” says Jaleel.
The rescue mission was led by Commander Vijay Verma. The same day, by 2.30 pm, Sajitha delivered a boy, who was named Subahan by the hospital authorities.
Sajitha and Subahan spent 12 days in the Naval Hospital before shifting to their house. The waters fully receded only by then.
Subahan has two siblings, Nayeem and Nuaim.
Noah of Angamaly
Which Biblical name is apt for a boy who has survived the deluge? It is Noah, of course. That was indeed the name P Martin and Neethu of Angadikadavu, Angamaly, in Ernakulam district, chose for their second child who was born in a house surrounded by floodwaters last year.
Neethu, who was at her mother’s house at Neerikkode in Koduvazhanga, had begun experiencing labour pain around 2 am on August 17, 2018. But water was rising all around the house and everyone felt that it would submerge the building too.
Meanwhile, Neethu’s pain intensified. A boat soon arrived in front of the house. Neethu was carried in a chair to the boat. Though the boat travelled some distance, it began to rock severely as the currents intensified.
“The relief camp was still far away and it was certain that the boat would not reach there. A decision was taken to return to the house. I resolved to face any eventuality,” recalls Neethu.
By 9 am, a medical team headed by Dr Reji of Ernakulam Medical College reached Neethu’s house. At 10.40 am, a baby born was born and he was christened Noah Jesse Martin.
Noah has a sister, Mariya Eliza.
Jenna of Thuruthippuram
Jeleesh and his wife Reshma, residents of Thuruthippuram, Paravoor, in Ernakulam district, led uneventful lives till the floods. While Jeleesh ran a welding workshop, Reshma worked as a nurse at Carmel Hospital, Aluva. The images of her rescue by the Navy had appeared on TV and print worldwide.
When Reshma was carrying, she had shifted to her mother’s house at Chowwara, near Aluva. However, the floods hit the area while she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy.
The authorities were informed and the helicopter was expected on August 17, 2018; however, it did not appear that day. Reshma could board the Navy’s helicopter only the next day, that too from another house located near a church.
“The chopper hovered above the roof of the house while the Naval personnel dropped a basket for me to climb. While the sailors were pulling me to the helicopter, there was a strong wind. I was scared as a wind blew then and the view from that height too was frightening,” says Reshma.
The chopper dropped her at Naval Hospital in Kochi. From there, Reshma headed to Carmel Hospital in Aluva where she worked. On the fourth day, a baby girl, Jenna, was born.
Rohith Krishna of Puthenvelikkara
Aiveettil Sreenivasan and his wife Amrita, residents of Puthenvelikkara in the Paravur taluk of Ernakulam district, still keep a baby dress gifted by a soldier who rescued them during the 2018 flood as a memento. The couple is still in contact with him, Subedar V K Noushad from Palakkad, who saved them from the rising waters on August 16.
The team led by Noushad had shifted a pregnant Amrita to hospital and she gave birth the next day. Noushad also visited the hospital after Rohith’s birth and presented the baby dress.
Sreenivasan works as driver while Amrita is a homemaker.
Rishinath of Manjali
One-year-old Rishinath’s parents had to flee from one place to another to escape the fury of rising floodwaters to save their lives during the time of his birth. The area around the house of Rajesh and Lidiya was submerged on August 15, 2018. The water soon began flowing into their house.
Rajesh, who is a driver, took Lidiya, their elder daughter Medha and parents to a convent nearby. However, the convent too began to submerge. The family then shifted to theSree Narayana Institute of Medical Sciences at Chalakka.
The next day, this private medical college was also flooded. Local people helped Lidiya to move to Manjali in a canoe. An ambulance took the expectant mother to Don Hospital, Paravoor, where a baby boy was born on August 17.
Lidiya is a nurse associated with the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya project at Puthenvelikkara and Kunnukara panchayats.
Pranav of Cheranalloor
A private hospital waived off its fees when Pranav was born last year as most parts of Kerala were marooned. He is cherished as he was brought there from at a relief camp for the flood-hit.
Pranav’s parents are Suneesh and Praseetha of Asariparambil House at Cheranelloor, a coastal village in Ernakulam district.
Suneesh, who is a driving instructor, had shifted his family to a relative’s house at Panangad on August 16, 2018. Two days later, they moved to a relief camp set up near a mosque.
The camp authorities subsequently took a fully pregnant Praseetha to a private hospital at Panangad where Pranav was born on August 20. The hospital did not charge any fee for the delivery.
Praseetha was discharged from hospital three days later and she came home carrying dozens of baby dresses and other gifts.
Muhammed Salih of Alangad
The sweet smile of tiny tot Muhammed Salih helps his family erase painful memories of the flood. He is the youngest son of C Kunhumuhammed and Thahira of Alangad in Paravur, another place that was under water in Ernakulam district.
During last year's floods, the family had taken shelter at a relief camp nearby early on August 16. Thahira felt labour pain two days later. A Navy boat soon arrived to take her to Palakkal in Veliyathunadu. From there, she was taken to the Aluva Government Hospital in an ambulance. However, the ambulance was stalled in the flood waters. Rescue workers then got into the act and carried Thahira on a stretcher to the hospital.
By noon on August 18, Muhammed Salih was born.
Kunhumuhammed is into dairy farming. Salih’s siblings are Hiba Fathima and Mishab.