For days, she lay in a pool of dirty rainwater, dogs lurking nearby, flies swarming her nine-month pregnant body. With just a filthy red chunni to cover her, she easily passed off as a bundle of rags dumped on a busy street.
And it was a busy street — in Shankar Market, Connaught Place, at the feet of thousands who walked past going to work, going shopping, returning home.
When the woman gave birth on July 26, it was on that dirty roadside. The newborn lay with her dazed mother, wailing. It was the crying that alerted a food-stall owner, who went to Ritu Arthur Frederick, who has a garment shop in the market.
Frederick was shocked to see dogs circling the day-old infant.
"The dogs looked like they would pounce on the infant."
"The mother told me she had given birth on her own, even pulling the child forcefully to cut the umbilical cord."
Fredrick took the baby under her care, helped by a woman vendor. The mother was so filthy Fredrick refused to let her breastfeed. The destitute refused to clean up, even turning down medical help. Four days later, she died, telling Fredrick to care for her baby.
But for Fredrick and the baby she named Karishma (miracle), their troubles weren't over. When the police were called to remove the body, Fredrick told them about the baby. The officers took Karishma to a foster home in Gole Market.
Fredrick is not willing to give up caring. Being single, she is apprehensive she might not get custody. So, she's convinced her brother and sister-in-law to adopt Karishma. But, she complains, the orphanage authorities aren't being cooperative.
In callous Delhi, she — and Karishma — will probably need another miracle.