Nearly four years ago in January 2015, eight-year-old Naga girl Mhonbeni Ezung became the youngest person to receive the National Bravery Award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
What did the young girl do?
Well, on January 28, 2014, Mhobeni was fishing with her grandmother at a river near the Chudi village of the Wokha district in Nagaland. Suddenly, her 78-year-old grandmother, Renthunglo Jungi, suffered a bout of cramps, then a stroke and fell unconscious into the water body.
The little Mhonbeni had the wherewithal to drag her grandmother out of the river, run 4-5 km (7 km according to some accounts) through the dense jungle all alone to the village crying out for help.
Help eventually arrived as Renthunglo was taken to the nearest primary health centre in Wokha district and later referred to Dimapur. Speaking to the press, Mhonbeni said that it was her deep-seated love for grandmother Renthunglo which inspired this act of bravery.
Once Renthunglo recovered, Mhonbeni said that her grandmother gave her “lots of love.” Speaking to the Times of India, Mhonbeni talked about wanting to become an engineer when she grows up.
Fast forward to 2018, and Mhonbeni’s story has been adapted to a successful Nagamese-Hindi film Nani Teri Morni, directed by Akashaditya Lama and produced by the Children’s Film Society of India. It was recently featured at the Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival in Guwahati.
With narration from Mhonbeni’s grandmother, the film not only revolves around her brave act but the art of oral storytelling. Like any other child, Mhonbeni loved hearing stories that spoke of courageous actions and other Naga tradtions—elements that would eventually inspire a young child to save her grandmother.
During the film, we are told of Mhonbeni’s favourite story of Ranchan, the brave tribal leader who fought off a man-eating tiger all alone to save his tribe, which had lost all hope in him and moved to another village.
It isn’t hard to gauge where Mhonbeni derived all her courage from. Watch the trailer below:
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)