On a sunny day in Bengaluru, Babu Muddrappa had dropped off a passenger at Whitefield and was driving his auto back to where he expected to get more passengers. This is Muddrappa’s life in a nutshell. He drives around the city, catering to passengers so that he can feed his family at the end of the day.
However, on April 15, Muddrappa witnessed something that he is never going to forget. Right on the main road, he saw a woman doubled up, screaming in pain. There were quite a few people around her, but nobody helped.
“People are afraid to get involved in anything that looks unusual. However, I rushed to the woman and asked her what had happened. She was in a lot of pain and was hardly able to talk. I could see blood on the road. She somehow managed to tell me that she was pregnant and was about to give birth to a baby,” Muddrappa told The Logical Indian.
Carrying the woman in his auto, Muddrappa rushed to nearby Vydahi Hospital. However, due to lack of adequate facilities, she was referred her to C V Raman Hospital.
“Scores of people saw her but no one came forward to help. How could I abandon her? She reminded me of my sister,” Muddrappa said.
The woman could hardly talk and refused to give information about her family. She did not want anybody to be called on her behalf.
Muddrappa admitted the woman, with all the money he could scramble at that point of time. Within some time, the woman gave birth to a baby girl.
“I waited at the hospital until the baby was born. Once I got the good news, I prepared to go back home. However, I left my phone number and address at the hospital in case they needed me. I was all the woman seem to know,” Muddrappa said.
“An overpowering determination to save the baby”
Within a very short time, however, Muddrappa received a phone call from the hospital. The baby, they told him, had trouble breathing.
“I rushed back to the hospital once again. They told me it was an emergency and I would have to shift the baby to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Shivajinagar. I wrapped the baby in a cloth, placed her on the back seat of my auto, and drove as fast as I would, determined to save the baby,” he said.
He got the baby admitted at the hospital, using his savings.
“I prayed to God that the baby lives a healthy life. She was such a tiny, innocent thing, but I was not in a position to help in any other way. I had a family back home, waiting for me to bring money so they could eat,” he said.
While on his way back, he received a call from the authorities of the hospital where the mother was admitted. To his horror, the woman had fled.
“There must have been a reason why she kept denying any contact information about her family to the authorities. Before they could take any further action, she was gone.”
“In many government hospitals, there is a lack of proper documentation. Clearly, the woman wanted to have nothing to do with the baby,” said Muddrappa.
Muddrappa spent the following days at the Bowring and Lady Curzon hospital, where the baby was admitted. For over a week, he nursed the baby and hardly visited home. He would rush to the market every now and then to get milk.
“Meanwhile, police were trying to find the absconding mother. I was called to four police stations across the city for inquiry. For over a couple of weeks, I ran across the city, from one corner to another. At times I would be at the police station, answering questions, and the next moment I would find myself at the hospital with the baby.
After what seemed like several days, I was tired. I wanted to go back to my family. I felt like I did not have the energy to help any longer. I asked the authorities not to call me anymore. I told them I did not want to remain involved in this any longer,” Muddrappa said.
“My heart broke”
Soon after he returned, he received a call from the hospital on May 4. He was informed that the baby had died. Her condition deteriorated, and she soon started bleeding from the mouth, and unfortunately, the doctors could not save her.
“My heart broke. I decided to bury the baby myself, along with some police officers. In those few days, I had developed love and fondness for the baby.”
“I am not afraid of the police. I am not afraid of anything when I know for certain that I am not at fault. I did everything I could to help the baby, but I could not save her It makes me immensely sad. Some authorities later offered to give me back the money I had spent, but I would never take it from them,” he said.
Muddrappa has always been keen to help those in need and distress. He narrated an incident where he had found two injured men, who had fallen off their bike and took them to the hospital.
He says that he did not do all of this for any recognition, but only because he wanted to help. The world, he believes, needs to be a much better place, and only we can make it better, with compassion, love and empathy for each other.
“I do not know if the woman who fled will ever be found, or what will follow. While I feel sad every time I think of the little girl who died, I am also aware that I did everything in my power to help both the mother and the child,” Muddrappa said.