Anju walks into the NICU, one hand holding Nandkishore's hand, the other placed on her stomach where she has a big scar from the surgery. It still hurts every time she walks. But she walks anyway. She slowly makes her way to her baby – passing by other babies just like hers and other parents just like her who have only a few minutes to spend with their little one. Anju and Nandkishore stand by each other, as they have ever since their struggles began a few years ago.
"We have 6 children. I say this even though we lost 4 of them even before they were born, but they are still our children. We lost them one after the other...it was years of misery for us. But no matter what, Nandu didn't leave my side. Like he hasn't left now. I hear of so many husbands leaving their wives for these reasons. We have stayed strong. And we will stay strong even through this." - Anju
It was only 6 days ago that Anju and Nandkishore held their baby girl for the first time. She was born 19 days ago - premature, underweight and struggling to breathe. Their baby girl needs to stay in the NICU for at least 8 weeks to recover. This is the only way they can take her home, healthy. She isn’t strong enough for the world outside the NICU yet.
“People wouldn’t stop calling me. They thought we were celebrating, they wanted to come see the baby…all our relatives. But I hadn’t seen my baby myself! The minute she was born she was taken to the NICU. I saw her only 5 days later. Now no one calls me, no one even picks up my calls because they know she’s sick and I have no money to save her." - Nandkishore
Nandkishore is a daily wager. Ask him what work he does and he says “I will do any work now, anything! Anju and I come to the hospital in the morning and evening. In between that time I go around looking for more work. I usually work on others’ farms. Now, I will do anything.” Nandkishore earns Rs. 200 in a day. When there’s work. When there isn’t, he would use a little money from the Rs. 2000 that he had saved over time. Now even that is gone. He doesn’t have anything left to feed his wife and son, let alone afford the lakhs needed for his baby’s treatment.
"I know it's time for me to leave her now, and go back home...it never gets easier. I always wonder if this will be last time I see her.."