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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Pitfalls of Surrogacy

 A 'blue-stocking' Muslim lady, who teaches at an MBA institute in Gurgaon wrote to a very dynamic and brilliant friend of mine that she wants to be impregnated by him! Her hubby's impotent and has been suffering from erectile dysfunction for a long time. What will you call it: Advancement, promiscuity, urgency or sheer fun? Just because someone's brilliant and virile as well, doesn't mean that the child with him will also inherit the same attributes. And what'll be the emotional implications of such births?

Surrogacy is always a tricky issue. It somwhere lacks emotional equilibrium. Taking someone else's help other than that of one's spouse makes the conception ' psychologically lopsided' (Germaine Greer's phrase). 
That a rabid feminist like Greer terms such births as 'lopsided' ones, underlines a host of factors obscuring it . The Reader's Digest (Canadian edition) carried a piece in 1984. A woman took a handsomely endowed stranger's help to conceive her as she was desparate to become a mother. Her hubby was suffering from penile cancer. But no one  knew. That woman had a psychologist friend, who knew of this make-shift arrangement. She kept a close watch and found that after giving birth to a baby boy, that woman started becoming indifferent to that child and a point came that when she couldn't bear him any longer. Her psychologist friend contacted that stranger who helped that woman conceive and asked him whether he'd take away the child. That man didn't think twice and wholeheartedly accepted his 'son.' Why did that woman get disillusioned with her own child? First of all, that child was a product of her 'motherly arrogance', according to Sigmund Freud. Once she proved that she too could become a mother, her primary objective came to an end. Because it's the intrinsic longing of almost every woman to become a mother, to prove her womanhood as well as motherhood.

It's not just in India but everywhere in the world, we get to hear the derogatory words like 'a barren woman', 'an arid ground' or the downright demeaning'baanjh' in the Hindi belt. A woman's considered to be inauspicious if she's unable to conceive. Even in the western societies, the famous sociologists MacIver and Page observed that women who were unable to conceive were looked down upon by other women.
After all, human spirit's everywhere same. We all talk about love, compassion, emotion and all that jazz. These are all superficial words. A couple gives birth to a child because woman (wife) wants to prove her motherhood (that she ain't a 'baanjh' and man (hubby) asserts his 'manhood' (literally as well as metaphorically). Love for the child comes because you can't throw it. Otherwise, both have fulfilled their 'cardinal familial requirements' by giving birth to an offspring. And when a child's born through surrogacy, this bond is even weaker and there're relatively less  familial bindings to retain such a child because that closeness never comes, however hard one may try.

We call a woman, an eternal mother, forgetting that it was a woman who gave birth to an illegitimate child, Kabir, and abandoned him because she was a widow. The fear of disreputation eclipsed her affection for the child, she carried in her womb for nine months. She didn't think of that when she slept with a man. If Kabir lambasted women by calling them zahreeli nagin or 'doors to hell', was he too caustic?           
                                                                                                                                                                Sumit Paul

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