At a hospital in Baghpat, one-year-old Gudiya, her head swathed in bandages, has had khichdi and is about to be taken out for some fresh air. A nurse lifts her carefully, gently pats her back and whispers that they are going out. The infant starts crying, turns her head and points to a woman constable sitting in the ward.
The policewoman takes the infant in her arms and walks out to stand under a tree. The infant puts a tiny arm around her neck and dozes off. This is how it has been for four days now since the infant was found close to the body of a woman, believed to be her mother, in a Baghpat field — police believe both were attacked with a sharp object.
While the woman’s body decomposed, the infant miraculously survived hunger, thirst and two days of rain, and crawled out of the field to a shrine nearby where devotees noticed her. And with mother and child still to be identified, the hospital staff gave her the name Gudiya, and Rekha Nagar, a constable in the Baraut Police Station, is in charge of Gudiya’s well-being.
“I come in the morning at around 10 am and leave in the evening by 9 pm. Gudiya is a brave and loving child. She has survived a lot and all of us are hoping she gets better. Her situation has improved since the first day she was brought in,” said Rekha, who goes back home to take care of her own 5-year-old son.
According to doctors at Baghpat’s Astha Multi-Speciality Hospital, Gudiya had suffered a wound to the left part of her forehead inflicted by a sharp object. “We performed a CT scan and found that there was damage to the bone structure of the head as well. It is the kind of injury one sustains if their head had been banged against a hard structure. Due to infections in the head wound, we could not stitch it. But we are hopeful that she will recover,” said Dr Ajay Garg of Astha Hospital.
Doctors also found that her body had infections caused by worms. According to nurses, she was unconscious for several hours after being admitted and consumed an entire bottle of milk and water immediately after waking up. Doctors are planning to treat the infection with antibiotics while letting the wound heal since the worms had caused immense damage.
“She is responsive and friendly and I will take care of her. Some people have come for adoption and the Child Welfare Commission has also been contacted,” said Rekha.
As Gudiya sleeps in Rekha’s arms, police at Baraut Police Station, a few kilometres away, are doing everything they can to identify the dead woman. “I have personally travelled to 25 villages and have shown the picture of the woman to village pradhans, but no clue has come so far. Two persons came from Delhi asking about the child but it did not match their description. Messages have been sent to local WhatsApp groups of media, social activists and police,” said Dharmendra Sandhu, the officer investigating the woman’s murder.