Teen sneaks out to watch Premalu, loses his way back at night, fireman rescues him

Representational graphic: Created using canva

Alappuzha: A cycle ride to theatre covering over 20 kilometres and a twin movie night; this would seem like a perfect toast to the feted character 'Toto' of Cinema Paradiso. It's just that there was a twist but with a happy ending. The boy from Alappuzha who sneaked out of his house to watch a film lost his way on return and stood staring at a pitch dark road that lay ahead of him. There were stray dogs on the prowl. Thankfully fire force officer V R Biju and his two brothers who were passing by came to his rescue and promptly took him home.

The class 8 boy, a native of Andhakaranazhi, Cherthala went to watch the latest hit movie ‘Premalu’ after his friends told him that it was a laugh riot.

"He is used to watching comedy programs on the TV and even cartoons. But he didn’t tell us anything about his wish to watch any movies. He hasn’t done anything like that before. When he went missing, we got worried and reported the matter to the cops," said his father, Antony John Chalungal.

Armed with nothing but his bicycle, he set out on his adventure around 5.30 pm on Wednesday , pedalling through the National Highway first. However, the highway expansion works were progressing, and he found it difficult to proceed and took an interior road. The boy reached PAN cinemas, Kaichoondi, near Alappuzha town, and watched the 8.45 show.

"We asked him how he ended up stranded in the middle of the night. He said by the time the show ended, it was late into the night. So he thought he would watch one more film and then it would be dawn by the time the show ended. He watched ‘Manjummal Boys’. But to his horror, it was pitch dark outside and all the people too began to leave. Without any second thought, he pedalled back home, but he lost his way and was stranded at Gurupuram Bus stop when we found him," Biju, a Fireman cum scuba diver attached to the Vaikom Fire station.

Biju, along with his brothers R Salim, a KWA employee, and Vineesh V, Alappuzha District Programme Co-ordinator of the National Jude Board, were returning after visiting a relative at Harippad.

"It was around 2.15 am. I was on my bike and my brothers were in their car. I saw someone standing with a bicycle when we passed Gurupuram. A few days back, I tried to help another person, who was drunk and landed in trouble. So this time I continue to ride on my bike. But then to my shock, the person appeared to me as a boy. And I came back to find an exhausted boy with a terrified look even as a pack of stray dogs were a little ahead of him," Biju recalled.

The boy revealed all about his sole adventure to Biju and that he lost his way back home. They collected the contact number of his father and rang him.

“By that time, the family members were all terrified and all the people of that little village had gathered in his home. The police were searching for the boy. I told him the boy was in safe hands and we would take him in our car to Mahithara Market and asked them to come there. He didn’t want to part with the bicycle but we promised him that he would take it to his home safely and kept the same in a nearby house," Biju added.

The brothers, while speaking to the boy’s father earlier, requested him not to scold the boy.

“I didn’t scold him. Maybe it (the adventure) was because of his age. But I advised him and told him what we went through. He has promised not to repeat it," Antony said.

Meanwhile, Biju and his family once again visited the boy at his home on Wednesday night – to fulfill his promise of returning the bicycle. “The bicycle was tied to the back of my car and, as promised, it was handed over to him safely," a beaming Biju said.

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