He was barely three months old when Rudra Machchindra Lembhe was pulled out along with his mother, a good eight hours after tragedy struck Malin and the two were trapped under the mudslide. In no time, Rudra was hailed as the “miracle baby” drawing the attention of the world, with the global media highlighting the plight of the duo before their miraculous rescue.
Two years later as Malin is set to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy, worst in the history of the Pune district, the shock on the faces of the Malin villagers seem to have eased just a bit as they go about their daily routine, but the memories of their near and dear ones continue to haunt them. Amidst the gloomy scenario, it is Rudra who seems to make them forget their tragedy as he runs around the temporary sheds set up for 40 aggrieved families.
When The Indian Express team visited Malin a day before the second anniversary, Rudra was at the site of the temporary sheds, mouthing words like “zzzoomm” and “baju hata (move away)”. He was riding his tricycle.
Moments later, he sauntered into his house and again was out of it even as his mother asked him to return. Rudra then slipped into the house of his neighbours and out of it, to evade being caught by the neighbour’s daughter.
“Throughout the day, he is like this only. There are hardly any kids of his age. So he keeps playing all alone, moving in and out of the homes of our neighbours,” says his mother, Pramila Lembhe.
Dilip Lembhe, a neighbour adds, “But we don’t mind his naughtiness. In fact, no one seems to mind what Rudra does. We all laugh at his antics. Everyone knows who he is and the world too knows about him.”
Komal, a collegian, says, “Rudra is most of the times laughing or smiling. You will hardly find him crying. And along with him, the people here can also be spotted enjoying a few moments.”
Another neighbour says, “We can’t forget the tragedy that has befallen us. When visitors come, we speak our mind and feel a little relieved. Most of the times, we look up to our children and enjoy their playful acts. Kids like Rudra keep us going…”
Pramila Lembhe, who has given birth to a second child three months ago, shares a fact about the tragedy. “I don’t remember telling this to anybody. I could not give water neither breast-feed Rudra for eight hours. It was impossible to do so as one of my hands was under the mud, and with another, I was holding Rudra… Also, the furniture and utensils had fallen on my back. My head was bent and it remained like that all the time. Therefore, I could not breast-feed Rudra, though he kept crying on and off,” said Pramila. She and Rudra were pulled out around 4 pm, at least 8 hours after the tragedy. Her in-laws too survived the tragedy as they were close to the door. Her husband was away in Pune when the tragedy occurred.
Rudra goes to a local nursery and there too, he makes everyone, including his classmates, run around. “He wants ‘Kurkures’ and biscuits with him. But does not want to share them with anyone,” says Pramila, adding that the family might put him in an English-medium school. “I am aware, and so is my family, about Rudra being called the miracle baby by the world,” she adds.