Khatun’s Hindu friend, who helped deliver the baby, takes her into her arms now, swaying her amid laughter from the crowd.
“What’s the name,” someone in the crowd asks.
Modern India’s worst ever floods continued to eat up vast swathes of farmland in Bihar, with a much larger war to fight: thousands of acres of barren farmland, property squabbles, no cattle to plough the land, and homeless millions.
The flooding in the Kosi River , currently pulverizing several parts of northern Bihar , has affected almost a third of Bihar ’s 83 million people and submerged 1.1 lakh hectares (2.75 lakh acres) of farmland. That is 1,100 square kilometers, slightly less than the entire area of New Delhi .
It is the mother of all floods: the river is now 32 kilometres wide.
Unlike other rivers which bring fertile silt with them, the soil brought by the Kosi is like poison for the soil of the affected area. The river has been notorious for centuries for destroying the land it touches.
“The Kosi brings with it coarse sand and gravel from the upper reaches of the river system … it will make the land almost barren,” said Dr. M.A. Khan, a top eastern India official with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
“It will badly affect the food security of the state, and will take a long time to repair,” said Khan, speaking by telephone from Patna.