The Rajs happened to be staying in Sujan Singh Park, a posh address in New Delhi. It was in fact a twin set of apartment blocks on either side of Khan Market road. There was a big enclosed lawn surrounded by blocks of
4 storeyed flats on its three sides. With the gate keepers at each gate, the lawn provided a safe place for the children to play. Most of the residents were owners and hence permanently settled there. Rajs being temporary occupants of one of the flats belonging to another Air Force officer, were not acquainted with any of the residents. They could claim only a slight acquaintance with Raos who were staying one floor above them, in the penthouse.. Raos were Kannadigas hailing from Bihar. Mr Rao had served as private secretary to one of the presidents of India. They were a very simple, cultured, sweet couple.
Though Sujan Singh Park was a well known multistoreyed complex, there were no lifts in the blocks. Instead there were only monumental, wide and shallow Titanic-like steps going all the way up to the fourth floor in the foyer.
Mr Rao came down to take them to the doctor. He carried Munni horizontally in his arms not allowing her head to hang down and reached the doctor’s clinic with Neerja. As soon as the doctor saw the condition of the child, he diagnosed the problem as ‘Meningitis’ and advised them to admit the child immediately to Irwin Hospital in Old Delhi. Before sending them out he gave a few more injections to the rigid child and asked them to carry the child horizontally with the head supported and swathed in ice.
Neerja did not even pause to think how she would manage with one child in the far off Irwin Hospital and two little ones at home, without the husband and the servant boy. But, with the kindly couple Raos to her help, she did not have to worry. Mrs Rao offered to continue looking after her little sons. The youngest even slept with her in her bed. Along with her own household work, she not only looked after their feeding, bathing etc but promised to come to the hospital and relieve Neerja too.
In the meantime, Mr Rao was frantically trying to contact Raj on phone through Air HQs and also Neerja’s brother at Chandigarh. He did not succeed in tracing Raj. But he managed to contact Neerja’s brother who immediately landed in Delhi with their mother. The mother took charge of the household. By then the servant also had come back.