Published: 20th March 2020
A tale of two Naylas: How this Jamia student helped a Delhi riot victim give birth as Corona converged
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Nayla Khwaja helped Noor Bi, a Delhi riot victim deliver her baby on Monday
Nayla was half-an-hour old when her namesake held her with a pair of trembling hands. She wrapped the baby in three sets of blankets, protecting her from the cold. Nayla made sure that she cleaned her hands with soap and sanitised it well before she picked up the infant, making sure that she was untouched by germs and viruses.
Baby Nayla was born in a Government hospital in North East Delhi, on March 16, a few days after the WHO declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. A month before that, North East Delhi witnessed one of the worst riots in the country. The house where her parents Noor Bi and Waris resided at that time was allegedly looted and burnt down by the rioters. The students of Jamia Millia Islamia and a few other social activists have been running campaigns and crowd funders to help the couple since then. It was through one such campaign that Nayla Khwaja, a first-year master's student in the university got to know about Noor Bi.
"I got a WhatsApp forward on Monday saying that a Delhi riot victim is due and that she needs a female volunteer to help her out. I contacted the number and through a few other volunteers, I got in touch with a doctor who was running the campaign. He gave me Rs 10,000 that he had collected and directed me to the hospital," says Nayla. She recalls reaching the hospital that evening with a friend of hers. "There was no one to help them. The hospital wouldn't let Waris go in, so I was the only one who could be next to Noor," she says.
Nayla tells us how she was by Noor's side throughout the delivery and managed to stay strong, despite being worried. "I had never seen a delivery in my life and had no prior experience of handling a situation like this. But I figured out that my presence could comfort the mother. So, I went ahead and introduced myself as a student of JMI," she says. "Noor was really worried. She was barely 19 or 20, at least four years younger than me. Throughout her pregnancy, she has seen her loved ones getting injured, looted and her house getting burnt down," she recalls. The duo, however, bonded quickly.
"She held my hands for a long time. I took her to the restroom that evening and brought her back to her bed. At one point, she hugged me. For some reason, my presence relieved her," says Nayla. She recalls how Noor said "Mujhe bahut dar lag raha tha. Par aapko dekha kar himmat aa gayi hai" (I was very scared, but I feel strong after seeing you). Two hours later, Noor delivered her baby. The couple did not think twice before naming her. The same night, she was christened Nayla.
Both Naylas on March 18, two days after the baby was born
Noor gave birth to the baby at a rather scary time, when the entire world has been advised to practise Social Distancing, to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus. Like everyone, Nayla too was worried about the spread of the virus and being in contact with more people. "I used all the precautions, I wore masks and used sanitisers. I washed all my clothes in warm water too. But a woman was due and someone had to help her out. Even during famines and plague, people have helped each other. So I thought, I must help her out, come what may," she says. She also tells us how the police lathi charge in JMI in December too influenced her decision. "My friends and I were in the canteen when the attack had happened. I am one of the few students who jumped walls that day. But since then, my perspective about things around me have changed a lot," she says.
Nayla admits that the hospital wasn't equipped or sanitised enough to fight COVID19. "But we made sure that the baby was safe. We sanitised our hands and let it dry before we touched her each time. We also ensured that our clothes were clean. The mother and the baby are both healthy now," she says.
Nayla shares another photograph where she holds a two-day-old Nayla. "A few of us had gone there yesterday to deliver a few clothes for the mother and the baby. There are ongoing crowdfunders to help the family too," she says.