The Life and Times of a Surrogate Mother


The Life and Times of a Surrogate Mother

Illustration: Namaah/Arré


amuben Rabari might have gasped when she first heard what Reenaben was doing. Or she might have chosen to maintain a heavily judgemental silence about the fact that her neighbour was proposing to rent out her womb to a stranger. Reenaben, on the other hand, was fairly blasé about it. “One baby is almost a house,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. Samuben had never heard anything so scandalous. And yet, no one in Petlad – the tiny town in lush south Gujarat where rich landowners have sprawling fields of tobacco and banana – had earned the preposterous sum of ₹4.5 lakh that Reenaben Buch had been offered.

Reenaben went ahead with her plans even as her neighbours discussed the shocking idea for everything it was worth. But when Reenaben returned nine months later, tongues stopped wagging. She promptly moved her family of four into a smart rowhouse even as Samuben continued struggling to make ends meet. She kept working the fields for ₹5,000 a month, with a husband who had just lost the use of his right leg. Soon, however, under the glare of an unforgiving sun judgment melted away and her mind began to work on the possibilities.