Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.
I finally tracked her down in a middle-class locality in the western suburbs of Mumbai. Somebody has killed her story two years back and I was determined to know more about this fearless woman who had won an impossible battle against a famous movie star despite the odds.
At one point in time, she was the darling of all page-3 celebrities in Mumbai but strangely, nobody seemed to know her whereabouts. The first two celebs I asked downright refused to identify her. The third one slammed the door on my face and the fourth sent me on a wild goose chase. Fortunately, his personal assistant was from my hometown and was quite pliable with alcohol. I finally zeroed on to her apartment in a little known corner of the city.
She was quite young, maybe in the early thirties. She lived with her husband and one child of about 5 years. Both were studying for their master’s in business administration and were doing some odd jobs here and there to keep the family afloat. They were hesitant to open up with me but after much cajoling and pleading, she finally revealed her fascinating story.
‘At one point of time I had become the darling of the page-3 celebs; the most sought after surrogate mother of my time,” she said sighing, thinking about her golden days.
She started thinking about surrogacy at the age of 22 when they were going through a rough financial patch. Surrogacy was quite well paying and the money got out of it could help her and her husband to tide through the financial losses they incurred in their start-up business and will also allow both of them to pursue further education. At first, Sanjay, her husband objected as the emotional toll of carrying another person’s child can be devastating. But he relented finally after some convincing.
“My first customer was the wife of Mr. A (she names a famous industrialist). I delivered a healthy boy for them and got handsomely paid in return. Mr. A was an active page-3 celebrity and before long my fame as a surrogate mother started spreading far and wide. In the next few years, I delivered several babies and my clientele list become quite enviable.” She said.
They started doing well. They moved to a better apartment and even bought a high-end car. Sanjay also paid all his debts and became her full-time manager. Things were looking great until Mr. B came into the picture.
Her eyes became moist with tears as the name of Mr. B seemed to bring back a lot of bitter memories. Her husband took over from her and continued her story.
“Mr. B (he names a famous movie star) is hardly like what is shown in the movies. He is a narcissistic, vile asshole having not even a single bone of sympathy existing within him. We agreed to the contract because the terms were generous but that was our biggest mistake” He said, his eyes burning with anger.
Then things became complicated. Something strange happened to her which was not considered possible in the scientific community. She became pregnant with her own child while carrying a child for the movie star. The technical term for this very rare medical occurrence is 'superfetation' which can occur only where there are two uteri, or where the estrous cycle continues through pregnancy.
“In short, we were having our child and their child and everybody thought that Mr. B is having twins.” He said.
It was only later, the complexion differences between the children gave things away. A DNA test further proved that Ashok (one of the children) is biologically theirs.
Then all hell broke loose
“We did the research and found out that a similar case had happened in the US also and according to experts it is a rare situation which can happen in surrogacy. But our movie star was not happy. Legally the baby was his and there was nothing we could do against his immense clout and power. We had almost resigned to our fate” He said.
Mr. B could never digest the fact, that one of the babies is not his and this fact began to prey on his egoistic mind. He stifled the news by using his contacts in the media and also send some goons to their house to “warn” them. The media reported only one child for Mr. B and there was absolutely no mention of Ashok anywhere. It was almost like he was not existing anymore.
Then the unthinkable happened. Mr. B put Ashok up for adoption. This was the last straw for a mother’s patience. She took the legal recourse to fight for their child.
It was a battle between the filthy rich versus a poor mother
The legal route drained them completely with all their savings going kaput. The battle dragged on for 6 months. There was intense media attention. There were nasty trolls defaming them online and there were also physical attacks on the couple. But they persisted and finally, an uneasy out-of-court settlement was reached. They got the child back with Mr. B relinquishing all his rights on the child.
It was a pyrrhic victory, however. Mr. B ensured that she never continues her business again. All the page-3 celebs closed the door on her permanently and she soon acquired the status of someone “not to be associated with” in any way what so ever.
I left the couple feeling a mix of pride and sadness; pride for their stupendous action of winning their right and sadness for losing everything in the bargain.
But the interesting part was the complete lack of regret or disappointment on their part on how things have panned out for them. They have moved to a smaller house. They are struggling to make ends meet. They have lost all the limelight and worse still they have become like a pariah dog whom nobody will touch even with a stick.
But they still weave hopes for the future and for the sake of their prized child.
“My MBA is finishing next year and she will be also completing around that time. We will be getting better jobs and will be surely able to ensure a better future for Ashok. The past is a blur now. It is time to move on.” Sanjay said.
Somebody rightly said that hope has a lot of importance in our life. Without hope, you can't survive for even a minute. And in its own way, hope links the past to the present and finally creates a vision for the future. Even though the vision might be hazy as of now, just envisioning the same itself makes us feel better and motivated to come out of the dumps come what may.
As Christopher Reeve has rightly said.
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”