It was close to 2 am on August 9 when 27-year-old Sri Ranjini heard a loud thumping noise on her bedroom wall. She and her husband had just minutes to escape before the wall cracked and mud and water from a landslide rushed into their house. The residents of Vythiri town in Wayanad district ran for their lives, with two children in tow.
Heavy rains were lashing down on them, making it impossible to see clearly, and with their house located on a hill slope, they knew the dangers of slipping down. To make matters worse, the landslide had destroyed the only set of stairs to the main road near their residence.
With the help of some neighbours, the couple trekked for an excruciating hour with their children - a four-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl on their shoulder. The children cried in fear the whole way down but the family managed to make it to a relative's house by 5 am that morning.
Sri Ranjini believed their ordeal was finally over but things took a turn for the worse.
"My son developed a fever in hours and had an epileptic attack," she says, her eyes tearing up. "He was twitching and turning right in my arms. I was terrified. The water levels were up to my chest and no vehicle could go through. Even the ambulance couldn't make it. We were stuck in the house," she explains.
But this mother was not going to let the rain stop her from saving her son.
"My home was destroyed and our futures had become uncertain. But I was getting through all this trauma for the sake of my children. If something were to happen to them, I just couldn't go on," says Sri Ranjini. "I carried my son and began walking to the Government hospital which was 10 km away," she adds.
Sri Ranjini carried her son, while her husband brought their daughter through the deep waters, braving the punishing rain. It took the couple close to three hours to make it to the hospital.
"Doctors in the hospital immediately attended to us and saved my son," she says gratefully. "This rain has already taken away too much from us. Our homes, our belongings and even our identity – we have no ration card, Aadhaar card or address proof anymore," she says, pointing to her family.
Sri Ranjini and her husband then relocated to a relief camp at the Holy Infant Mary's UP School after the initial treatment. About 140 other families from Vythiri have rushed to this camp over the last two weeks.
"We've been here for 10 days now," says this mother. "Doctors come here every day and they give medicines for my son. We have to rebuild our lives after this but at least we will do it together as a family," she adds.
The hill district of Wayanad has recorded 536.8 mm of rainfall in the past week, a departure of over 400 mm. Over 25,000 people have been shifted to 220 relief camps in the district. The continuous downpour in this district had led to 17 major landslides causing irreparable loss to property, according to authorities.