RAICHUR: The world hadn't heard of 12-year-old Venkatesh. At least, until this Saturday.
But a flood in the stream at Hirerayanakumpi village of Devadurga taluk in Raichur district was to change all that.
With the bridge across the stream submerged, the driver of an ambulance carrying six children as well as the dead body of a woman to Machanoor village of Wadagera taluk of Yadgir district was in need of guidance. He turned to a group of boys playing nearby for help. Venkatesh was game.
Though Venkatesh's friends cautioned him against being foolhardy, the boy asked the driver to follow him. The water gushing across could not come in the way. He found his way across and guided the ambulance over too.
“I really don’t know if what I did was an act of bravery or not. I just wanted to help the driver,” says the 12-year-old Venkatesh, who became a hero after a video of his act posted by the New Indian Express went viral.
The driver of the ambulance, Manju of Prasanna Ambulance Services, was the one who directed Express to the till-now-nameless daredevil.
But we had to wait till Monday to meet the boy and his family as they had been shifted to a nearby rehabilitation centre at Shavantgera Government Higher Primary School since Hirerayanakumpe was submerged in the floods.
The Raichur district administration confirmed that Venkatesh and his family members had shifted to a relative's house at Yadgir from there.
Venkatesh, who is a Class VI student in Government Primary School at Hirerayanakumpe, remains the same innocent boy after the incident.
Speaking to Express over the phone from Yadgir, Venkatesh said, "The driver of the ambulance asked me whether there was a way to go into the stream and if he could drive the ambulance on the bridge. I showed the way. I do not know what is meant by help, bravery etc."
Elder brother Bhimaraya said Venkatesh would often play in the stream with his friends, while also helping their parents during cultivation. Two years ago, Venkatesh had saved a woman who had fallen into the stream, Bhimaraya recalled.
Venkatesh’s father Devappa is a poor farmer in Hireryanakumpi.
Raichur district administration officials say they plan to recommend Venkatesh for the state bravery award.