They call her "Goli" (bullet). When terrorists were wreaking havoc at the Cama hospital on 26/11, Goli was being born in the hospital’s labour ward.
"The doctors suggested that name. Her real name is Tejaswini, but for all of us she is Goli," says her mother Viju Chavan.
Around 10 p.m. on November 26, 2008, Mohammad Ajmal Amir "Kasab’ and his partner Abu Ismail barged into the hospital. About the same time, Ms. Chavan was shifted to the delivery room. "The delivery took place at 10.50 p.m. By God’s grace, it was normal, and the infant cried immediately. So resuscitation was not required. We made the mother lie down on a mattress on the ground to avoid the unsafe window level and handed over the baby to her. She delivered amid the sound of machine guns and grenades. My knees are shaking even as I am telling you this," says staff nurse Jayashri Kurdhundkar.
The firing continued for the next one-and-half hours after "Goli" was born, Ms. Chavan says. The older brother of "Goli," Shashikant, was only five then. He was cooped up in the bathroom with father Shamu Lakshman Chavan and others. "He would get jitters with every sound of firing and blast. Even now, he fears the sounds of firecrackers. We have to tell him these sounds are not like the ones you heard that day, these are normal," says Ms. Chavan.
Tense moments returned to the ward three hours later, when another baby girl, Daulatbi, was born. "At 1.40 a.m. [on November 27], another patient came for delivery. By 1.44 a.m. she was delivered of the baby girl, and thankfully this too went well," says Ms. Kurdhundkar.
Daulatbi is the third child of Nasrin Nasaru Sheikh (24). A tattered makeshift shelter at the back of a building, an area known for drug addicts, houses the emaciated mother and child. As the city turns its attention to the anniversary of the terror attacks, Daulatbi is languishing in anonymity like the millions of deprived children.
"No gifts or celebration for her. We don’t have anything. What about her education?" asks Ms. Sheikh.
She recalls how before being shifted to the labour ward, she had spent the most trying moments bearing with pain. "The doctors had put a cloth on my mouth to muffle my cries. Placing their hands on my stomach, they prayed for the pain to subside. I was made to lie on the side, and my legs were crossed. The pain abated, but started once again. That’s when I was hurriedly shifted to the labour ward. I would have been delivered of the baby much earlier," she says.
There were four patients for delivery that night, but only two gave birth. "We did not tell the mothers that terrorists had arrived here, lest their blood pressure should shoot up. We did not open the ward till 7.30 a.m. the next day," says Ms. Kurdhundkar.
For the staff’s exemplary care, the Chavan family has given a letter of appreciation penned in Kannada to Ms. Kurdhundkar and ward attendant Dhondu Parab. The family, which hails from Karnataka, lives in a small room in a slum. It makes a living by shelling shrimps on the docks.
"Goli," meanwhile, has become the talk of her slum. "She has got used to the camera now," says her mother.