Most Gracious ILites,
This is one of my most controversial stories. There were editors who dubbed this story as ‘quite vulgar and shocking’.
I have moved with many people who are self-proclaimed progressives. And I find their attitude towards life far more vulgar than this story.
As I love to say every time, please don’t raise questions like, “Is this true? Did it happen?” May be this is slightly ahead of the times. But events like these are quietly happening in metros. Whatever may be the progress made, at one time or other ‘chauvinism’ raises its ugly head and kills many a healthy marriage.
Read the story with an open mind and tear the characters to pieces. It is needless to say that you can take the same liberty with the author. If at any point of time you find the narration obscene or offensive, please don’t go any further. And please do forgive me.
Anita entered their bedroom with a cup of milk in her hand and romantic thoughts in her heart. But when she saw Raj in a pensive mood,all dreams of making love fled from her and she braced herself up for another round of arguments.
Raj and Anita, dubbed as the made-for-each-other couple in their circles, had everything life had to offer, except a child. The first five years of marriage without a child was just a long honey moon; but now they felt the pressures coming in from his parents, her parents and their peers.
It was with open minds that they subjected themselves to medical tests which identified some serious problems with Raj. Of course it had nothing to do with his potency or for that matter, his performance in the bed. He was a wonderful lover. Sex, for Anita, was not a Sunday-afternoon formality to be complied with dutifully; but a bi-weekly ecstasy beyond words.
But Raj could not father a child.
The Doctors had clearly told that the count was so low that hormonal injections might not be of help. Anita and Raj had resigned themselves to the facts.
And then one of Raj’s friends had advised in vitro fertilisation (IVF) with a donor’s sperm. The gynaecologist who had examined Anita pronounced her fit for the procedure and they had even tentatively fixed the date. The sperm bank was also notified. And now almost every day they were discussing about the project.
Anita opened the conversation in a lighter vein.
“Looks like the boss wants to say something?”
“Ani dear, there are a few points about this IVF and sperm donation, I am not comfortable about.”
“Neither am I, Raj. I would rather prefer remaining childless than going through the procedure. I consented only because you were particular about having a child. To be frank I find this sperm donation and IVF a little embarrassing.”
“Are you kidding? A software engineer and a woman’s lib activist from Bombay being embarrassed by sperm donation? I can’t imagine that. Darling, my embarrassment has a different reason. A few weeks back we were discussing about adopting a child from an orphanage. Do you remember why we dropped that idea?”
“I do. You told me that to take in a child without knowing its lineage is too much of a risk. And we can’t tell how the child will behave when it grows up, because we do not know about the child’s parents.”
“Precisely. Ani dear, in the project we have before us exactly fifty percent of the lineage risk is still there. Do you agree?”
“What is the procedure? The sperm of an unidentified donor will be fused with the eggs from your ovary and the embryo formed by that fusion will be placed back in your uterus. Right? Now in this case you will be the child’s mother; but about its father, the sperm donor, we do not have any info. The doctor said that she won’t divulge the donor’s identity at any cost. And at least half of the child’s qualities and abilities comes from its biological father. So…….. so..”
Raj in spite of his background as a space scientist could not find words to express himself. But these clues were sufficient for Anita to guess what is coming.
Seeing the panic in Anita’s face Raj made a small detour.
“And there is another thing. In spite of the tall assurances given by the Doctor, I am a little scared about this artificial fusion and creating the embryo outside the body.Call it an unfounded fear; but I don’t think I can get over it. Darling, I am against the unknown sperm donor and this artificial insemination. Of course I do want a child for us but without these two hassles. Hence…. Hence……..”
Anita grasped the import of what Raj said even before he could find words to express it.
“What do you mean, Raj? You are against an unknown sperm donor and the artificial process. Then you want me to sleep with the guy of known lineage and get a child for you? Are you in your senses? Or are you still nursing a hangover from yesterday’s party?”
Anita said something more but it was suppressed by the sobs. Raj came near her, held her hand and spoke gently.
“Ani Dear, I never expected this outburst from you. Allow for the initial emotions to subside and think it over. You are not a prude, dear. And this is not new. Think about the fertility rites ceremonies practised by most of the older civilisations; the essence of that was childless women were allowed to sleep with the virile men discreetly. And in our Mahabaratha, when the King Vichitraveeryan died childless, his widows, were made to sleep with Vyasa and it was because of that, Dhirudurashtr and Pandu were born.”
“What do you want me to do?” An emotionally exhausted Anita asked in a bland voice.
“That’s a sensible woman. You know my cousin Girish? That tall guy who was kidding you continuously at the time of our marriage? He is an IIT gold medallist. Phenomenal IQ. Athletic build. Comes from a good family. My suggestion is quite simple. Instead of some unknown person’s semen becoming a seed for our offspring, why not we have a child through Girish, who is intellingent, good looking, healthy and of a good lineage?”
“Stop it, Raj. It’s nauseating.” Anita was pleading with tears.
But Raj was determined. His voice had become firm.
“How long are you going to turn your face away from facts? You object to my idea on grounds of conventional morality? Then using a donor’s sperm is equally immoral. Instead of some unknown person fathering our child, why not sleep with the known, healthy person approved by me and beget a good, healthy child in the natural and normal way?”
Anita composed herself and looked pointedly at Raj. He had scored a point over her.
“I am not forcing you to decide the issue now. You sleep on that and come back to me tomorrow morning with your views. But don’t let the Victorian morals befog your thinking. Have you read Arthur Hailey’s novel “Overload?”
Anita just nodded.
“In that novel the husband knowing that he cannot give a child to his wife sends her to his friend’s bedroom when the friend stays with them.
“She also understands the situation and cooperates whole-heartedly. And when the child is born the friend becomes its godfather. But for that fateful day she and her husband’s friend move with utmost decency never crossing the moral bounds.”
Anita was staring listlessly at her husband. Raj knew that he had scored a point again. He did not want to overkill.
“Ani you look exhausted. We’ll talk it over again tomorrow.”
When Raj planted a passionate kiss on her lips, he found that the response was not as passionate as it used to be. He understood.
As usual Raj got up first and woke up Anita with a steaming cup of tea. He also had a cup in his hand and was ready for the final round of talks. He was searching Anita’s face for visible clues. She looked as if she had not slept at all.
Once the tea got into her system she was fully awake and Raj sensed some unusual brightness about her face which he found slightly unnerving. When Anita talked the words came down with unprecedented clarity.
“I feel sorry for my emotional outburst last night. After thinking over your proposition, I am convinced that you are perfectly logical. I guess it is my upbringing that spurred the emotional response. Now I am ready.”
“Oh Ani Dear, that’s great. Shall I talk to Girish now?”
“But I want a small change, Raj.”
Raj threw a quizzical look at her.
“Yes Raj. I know your cousin Girish is great. I do not hold anything against him because he teased me during our marriage. But somehow or other my heart does not go out for him.
“Nor can I imagine any soft feelings towards him. I tried hard last night; I feel only a little creepy, thinking about him. I can’t explain that.Getting our one and only child is such an important thing I do not want it to happen with a man I am not comfortable about. It’s here I suggest a change.
“My cousin Rishi is my choice for the job. He is a CA. He is also a brainy fellow. Super intelligent like your Girish. Good family; a typical lady’s man. Terrific looks. In fact he had a really soft corner for me; thinking of that I too had a crush on him when I was in my college.
“Somehow we parted ways and here I am. Raj dear, I fully consent to your proposition with only a small change; substituting Rishi for Girish. I will take care of the arrangements without any embarrassment to you.”
Raj was staring at her in disbelief. Anita thought Raj will hug her for having consented.
But to her dismay his face reddened and his hands trembled. The tea cup fell down from his hand causing a splattering noise. Raj lost his temper and shouted.
“How long have you been carrying on with him, you slut? And when I was making love to you, you were fantasising about that bloody fellow, right? And you now want to enjoy sexual bliss with him under my very nose? You immoral bitch,how dare you?”
It took some time for Anita to understand Raj’s reaction to her suggestion. When the understanding came she was more hurt than offended, more sad than angry. When she recollected herself to speak, her words came out like thunderbolts.
”The male chauvinist pig hidden deep inside your soft exterior has now shown its ugly head, Raj. At first your suggestion to sleep with your cousin was simply nauseating. Then thinking over it I realised what amount of pain you are ready to bear for having a child. You were prepared for a sacrifice that no other husband would dream of.
“At that moment of realisation my love for you doubled, Raj. Your outburst in my change of the sperm-donor was a little confusing at first. Now everything has fallen in place. So long as I sleep with a person you approve there is no problem.
“But, if for the same job I choose a person I like and declare my liking, then your bloated male ego is offended. You immediately start doubting me. You have vulgarised the sex we have had so far by your ugly words. Good-bye Raj. Find out a girl who will enjoy sex with you but also sleep with Girish to give you your offspring.”
Anita walked out of the house as well as the marriage.