Omana had gone to the river that morning to take a bath like she always did. It was a little past sunrise on Wednesday morning and the July rains had brought forth the water to the shores. Omana, living by the riverside in a small town called Manimala in Kerala’s Kottayam, miscalculated the flow of the familiar waters and slipped. She hit her head somewhere and lost consciousness, but managed to hold onto a bamboo stick she found on the way. In a few hours, by a crossing of fate and luck, she’d be found and brought safely back to her son, who had been wandering everywhere in search of the missing mother.
“She is 68 years old, and the family gave a missing person complaint on Wednesday morning. We joined their search of the neighbourhood and every possible place she could have gone to. Having found no leads, we were back in the station when a call came from the Thiruvalla station about finding a woman of this description. It turned out to be Omana,” says Sub Inspector of Police at Manimala Station.
For Rajesh, the son of Omana, the thought of his mother slipping into the river had not crossed his mind. When he found her missing at around 6.45 am, he went on a frantic search and later to the police station. “We live on the riverside and she has always bathed and washed in these waters. She knows to swim well too,” says Rajesh, who worked as a driver.
What surprised them all is how Omana held onto the bamboo stick despite losing her consciousness on hitting her head somewhere. Rajesh reckons that she was still alert - “ullil botham undarnu” (internally conscious).
People of the Kuttoor village in Thiruvalla found Omana floating by the river and immediately got help. “It was a man who had a boat, I forgot his name,” says Rajesh, who is still watching over the mother, admitted at the Kottayam Medical College. But she is well, and has only minor bruises, a cloudy eye which has been cleared, he says.
She was admitted at the Thiruvalla government hospital before the police reached out.