7th October 2003

Anagha gazed at her husband’s photo on the wall. It had been ten months since she lost him to cancer.

“Yogesh, I hope you understand why I am doing this. It was the only solution to our mounting debts. Neighbours jeer, relatives, laugh, but the money is worth it.”

Morning sickness stuck fiercely. Giddy, she held the cot for support.

The baby in her womb kicked, reprimanding her for her thoughts. “I am not ashamed of you little one,” she lovingly stroked her swollen belly.

“Here, have some ginger tea and toast, it will help.” Her neighbour Priya had walked in.

Priya watched as Anagha devoured the tea and toast. She finally could not refrain from asking.

“Anu, can you really disengage yourself from your flesh and blood? No….don’t say this is not your baby. You will birth it, and that makes you a mother. I have seen you talking to it when you think no one is watching.”

Anagha had thought over this a million times. She was a surrogate mother. The child would be taken away from her as soon as the chord was cut. Would it remember her even a bit? She sometimes sang the song to the baby, “Bhavare ne khilaya phool…phool ko le gaya Raj Kuvar….” In another life, Anagha dreamt of another child, a loving husband.

Her current life, however, had turned into a nightmare, with debts and lecherous recovery agents knocking her doors every night. Who would see fend for her son?

When everything else in the room was sold or mortgaged, Anagha rented the only other thing left, her womb.

“I will manage Priya; I can pay off the debts, secure Anuj’s future. Sometimes there is no happy choice, Priya, only one less grievous than the others.” She said with teary eyes.

Ten months ago….

Anagha visited the surrogacy centre in South Mumbai after reading an advertisement.

“You will have to undergo a round of tests. Once our doctors give a go ahead, you will be meeting prospective parents who want you to carry their baby. If everything goes well, you will be participating in the procedure. Here, sign the form which says you are doing this voluntarily in return for ten lakh rupees. By signing this waiver, you decline any claim over this child whatsoever.”

A desperate mother signed away her right to motherhood.

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Sudden pain in her abdomen jolted her to reality.

“Call the Agency Priya, its time.”

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Anagha delivered a healthy baby at term. It was taken away as soon as the chord was cut. She lay in a sterile room gazing unseeingly.

The packet of money lay beside her. She should be happy. She was debt free now.

Priya took her hand and said, “The child will be well cared for. You did the right thing, brought the joy of parenthood to a childless couple.

Anagha wept as she sung, “ Bhavare tu kehna na bhool ,phool tuje lag jaye meri umaar…”

 

Glossary :

Commercial surrogacy is when a woman is paid for carrying a child to term, this baby may or may not be biologically hers. The commercial surrogacy was allowed in India in 2002 and banned in 2016.

“Bhavare ne khilaya phool…phool ko le gaya Raj Kuvar….” : Bumble nurtured a flower , which was claimed by a prince

Bhavare tu kehna na bhool ,phool tuje lag jaye meri umaar…” all the bumble bee could do was pray for the flower.

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Photo by Aston Mullins

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