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'My baby, my baby'

December 18, 2008
When she regained consciousness, someone helped her reach the St George's Hospital, a multi-specialist institution located close to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Within minutes of the first victim reaching St George's, the hospital had thrown open its gates and the victims loaded on to handcarts, injured and dead, were pouring in.

In the ensuing chaos, neither Sheetal nor her mother got any medical attention. Weak from loss of blood, Sunita weaved in and out of consciousness. The left side of Sheetal's tender body was a mass of small wounds, caused by the flying pieces of glass and shrapnel. A 5 mm piece of glass had pierced the baby's fontanelle (the soft part of a baby's skull that hardens into bone as the child grows older).

Sometime in the night, Sunita was bundled into an ambulance that was taking patients to the JJ Hospital. "My baby, my baby," she remembers screaming; she had been separated from her child. Luckily, a woman pushed Sheetal into the arms of the nurse in the ambulance just as its doors closed.

At the JJ Hospital, Sheetal was sent to the paediatric section; Sunita was sent to the surgical section to await her operation.

In the paediatric ward, a wailing, hungry Sheetal was fed bottled milk. It was the first external feed for the still-nursing child, and she was none too happy.

Sunita, who was panicking about her child -- she had yet to hear about her husband then and was desperately worried about him as well -- says no doctor came to see her until the next morning. The pain was unbearable; she was finding it difficult to breathe. She kept praying her husband was alive and, hopefully, safe.

In the morning, a drip was started; she was given some medicines. All she knew about Sheetal was that she was in the children's ward. "Then," she says emotionally, "at 4 in the evening, I came to know my husband was dead." She was scheduled for surgery the next day.

Image: Sunita Yadav at the paediatric ward at the JJ Hospital.

Also see: Blood was everywhere
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