Every day, 12-year-old Sebastian Vincent cycles three kilometres to school with a few friends.
July 19, 2016, started off as just another day for this student from Alappuzha. Sebastian, his friend Abhijith and a few other friends were crossing a railway track when they saw a speeding train coming their way. Panicked, they rushed across the tracks, but Abhijith fell, his cycle landing on top of him, pinning him down.
Sebastian knew he couldnâ€™t just leave his friend over there. He ran back to help Abhijith, picking up the cycle. When he saw that Abhijith was unable to get up, he kicked him off the track and jumped off himself in the nick of time.
This act of bravery has now been recognised by the Indian Council for Child Welfare, bestowing on Sebastian the National Bravery Award. He currently in New Delhi with his family, where he will receive the award from the Prime Minister and the President will later host a reception for all the awardees.
Speaking to TNM, this student of Leo 13th Higher Secondary School says that he only has very hazy memories of the episode.
"Everybody else ran away when they saw the train coming, but I don't know why running away wasn't the first thought that came to me. I felt I should save him," he says.
Incidentally, he is the only child from Kerala to have been chosen for the award this year.
Asked whether he was worried for his life, Sebastian said that ensuring his own safety had not occurred to him.
His father, Vincent, said that Sebastian was more worried about getting scolded.
"Sebastian fractured his hand in the process and was scared about how I would react to it. But then Abhijith's mother had come home to tell us what a noble and brave gesture our son had done. When we asked him more about that day, he told us that he did not remember anything too clearly," Vincent says.
A lifeguard at Alappuzha beach, Vincent thinks his own profession could have taught Sebastian to put other peopleâ€™s lives before his own.
While Sebastian received praise from his neighbourhood and school, his family never expected he would receive recognition at the national level.
"The school authorities filled the form and finished the required procedures. We could not be happier," says Vincent.
For Sebastian, it is a double treat â€“ it is his first trip to Delhi and he also gets to meet the President.
"We went to the Parliament today and saw the India Gate," he gushes.
On his return, he will be felicitated by his school, in a massive reception.