Right to life: Who decides?

Everyone seems to be talking about the Mehta case for the last couple of days. For those who don’t know, Niketa Mehta fought the law to fight for her right to abort her 25 week old foetus which has congenital heart problems.

The verdict is out and Niketa Mehta has been denied the permission to terminate the pregnancy. In a country where many abortions are done behind closed doors without the knowledge of the law, here is a couple who went and knocked on the courts for justice and for their unborn baby. The baby might have heart problems, shortness of breath and may even need a pace maker shortly after its birth.

There are strong chances that this child will not able to lead a normal life. Had Ms. Mehta found out about this a month earlier, she’d have had the right to terminate her pregnancy. Under the MTP Act, termination of pregnancy after the period of 20 weeks is prohibited by law.

Niketa does not want to bring this child into the world to suffer. She’d rather let her baby go. As I read the story done in different papers, I found myself confused. Is this right? Was the court wrong? I felt incapable of making a statement about this. I haven’t borne a child or raised one to empathise with Niketa. So, I asked Mom.

‘Do you know how much hurts to see your child suffer? That’s exactly why she doesn’t want the baby…’ she said as she tossed a hot paratha into my plate. I couldn’t help but wonder, if that child is destined to be born and to Niketa, who is the law or who is the mother to interfere with the forces of destiny.

I shuddered as I read that a 26 week old foetus can smile. Imagine, if the foetus can feel things, does it feel his/her mother’s requests to abandon it? Does it sense that the mother wants it terminated? I start wondering how it might feel if my mother didn’t want me… And my heart goes out to the unborn child.

I wonder what’d happen if this child was born, and Niketa brought it up with all the love she can (I believe she will because she’s a mother and they love their kids no matter what). And then suddenly a television report or a news story reminds him/her of the court room drama that determined their fate and of the fact that it was that judge who decided to bring them into the world and not their own mother. The way the media is going right now, I won’t be surprised if that happened.

Suddenly, my Mom puts her hand on my shoulder and says, ‘On second thoughts, however they are, your children are yours. You love them anyway,’ she sits down and continues, ‘so if a mother doesn’t want her child to come into the world, it is always for a strong reason. She makes that choice out of love. She’s aware that the life she might bring the child in to is much worse than death.’

That reminded me of my aunt, Neena maushi, who kept telling us how important it was that we understand our Mother through the rebellious teenage years. She’d always say, “When your mom tells you to jump from the 10th floor, don’t ask why, just jump without a second thought. Know that she’s telling you to do so, because grave danger is lurking behind you. A mother always knows the best and will protect you at all costs!”

Maybe that is what Niketa is doing. Maybe she doesn’t want her child to ask her why he/she can’t run around in parks, maybe she doesn’t want to see her baby cut open the day it is born, maybe she doesn’t want to see the baby depend on a pacemaker… But then maybe that child deserves a chance. Maybe that child is destined to struggle and sail through. Maybe Niketa is destined to stand by her child through its struggle.

After all who are we to fight destiny?

PS: Just after i wrote this post, I read that the Mehtas are not challenging the court’s order. Jaslok hospital in Mumbai has offered to perform the surgery for free for the Mehta baby. The Mehtas are yet to accept or decline the offer.

Daddy Cool

Hey! Its father’s day. Well we as a family don’t believe in the concept of mother’s day or father’s day, but since my parents are away travelling, I decided to write something for my Dad. The newspapers are talking about celebrity Dads, gifts for Dads, memories of dad and blah and blah. None of this made me get up and hug my Dad. (He hates hugs and all that but I love them and he has to endure them!) But one particular newspaper had listed 20 phrases all fathers utter at least once. And this piece made me want to hug my Dad. Nah, not because those phrases reminded me of him, but because he had not said any of those things ever to me or my sister. So here is a list of things that make him that cool dad who doubles up as a friend. Thanks dad for:

1. Always answering our silly questions! Be it why do aeroplanes fly to where do babies come from. He answered them all without shutting me up

2. For putting together a list of CDs on our trip to Goa in 2000, to ‘educate’ me in music. He got me hooked to Phil Collins, Simon & Garfunkel, Dire Straits, Guns N Roses (you read right, my Dad introduced me to the concept of head-bangin!), Foreigner and many other cool bands. That trip changed the way I perceived music.

3. Always letting us have whatever we wanted right from music systems to video games, but always making sure we earned them by performing a task.

4. Buying me all the movies I wanted!

5. Buying me books that’d make my day! Right from Single in the city to collected plays of Neil Simon to Kurt Cobain’s biography.

6. Letting me dream big and supporting me through those mad dreams I’d try to realise.

7. Supporting me emotionally and financially for a Creative writing degree in UK…

8. Not giving me the classic ‘What do you want to do with your life’ gyaan

9. Not cringing when I decided to not work and write a novel.

10. Not cringing when I gave up a job to write, yet again

11. For singing sweet child o mine for me on my birthdays!

12. For taking me to my first rock concert! Jai Rolling Stones 🙂

13. For being a Dad who gives me an infinite list of things that make him a rocking Father!

Where are we heading? I ask again

I feel a shiver down my spine as I read about the father who murdered his own daughter. It feels creepy to exist in this world, where a man is killed and chopped into 300 pieces by a jealous lover and a father who kills his own daughter out of suspicion.

Yesterday, I came across a blog about the need to have children and adoption being the last option considered by infertile couples. The writer argues that people value their own blood even though love has nothing to do with blood.

But what does one do when there is no love at all, or if there is so much love that it kills.

Arushi Talwar was a young teenager, who openly spoke about her father’s illicit relationship. The enraged father could have sat her down and talked to her. He could have tried talking to her, as any good parent would. But he didn’t. If the father suspected Arushi of having an affair with the servant he could have again tried talking to her, but how could he tell her what she was doing was wrong, when he himself was in an illicit relationship that Arushi openly disliked. The young girl might have shown a better sense of judgement by disliking her father’s affair, but her young mind could have faltered when she got close to the servant. Who knows?

The servant, who also knew of the father’s affair could have played around with the delicate mind of the teenager, forcing her to get close to him. After all, Arushi was a vulnerable teenager. Who knows what was going on in that young girl’s mind?

All we know is that she is dead, and whether he father is guilty or not, the fact is that bad parenting killed her.

Do we think that being a certain age and being married is our license to have a child? How many couples think about financial, emotional and social responsibilities of having a child before they have one? If they don’t then why does it surprise us when we hear of an enraged mother throwing her 4 year old out of the window or a 14 yr old girl killed by her own father?

Having a child could be the greatest joy, but what follows is a huge responsibility of shaping that young mind to become a responsible, compassionate and a rational human being…

… where are we heading?

I have missed pondering on my keyboard for quite sometime now and it feels good to be back on track with it. I haven’t uploaded my blog for a long time, and I apologize.
I just started working as a journalist for a new newspaper and the job put everything else in the backseat.
Finally, the paper is on the stands and hopefully I can claim my life back, bit by bit. The mundane life of a novelist is on hold as an exciting life of a journalist takes over.
Every day is different from the day before and I love it. There’s a chance to meet new people, make new contacts and get a perspective on the world.
I suddenly seem to have an opinion about everything, and beware, they are volatile opinions.
But yes, each day leaves behind a distinct imprint on the book of my life. Some days are exciting, some ordinary, some unnerving and some just depressing.

One such day was the day that followed Adnan Patrawala’s abduction and murder. At 11.30 pm, I wound up my Harry Potter and cosily hushed myself to sleep under my blanket. I was ready to be lost in the world of my dreams when my work mobile tinkled. I knew it was an emergency. I cursed and answered it. It was my editor breaking the news of Adnan Patrawala to me. “We want you to try and find out about the boy. Since in such cases, they are more forthcoming to women, will you go to Andheri early tomorrow?” I nodded and said yes.

I couldn’t sleep all night. That boy left home with friends and suddenly, his dead body’s been found.

The shock was to hit me worse the next day. All the newspapers carried a profile on the Adnan case. ‘Adnan was a spendthrift’ ‘Loved zipping around in cars’ ‘Adnan was reclusive and spent too much time on the internet’. I felt numbed by these reports branding the boy.

What’s more, an email briefing me about my report awaited me. My colleague had gone on to mention that this 16 year old sported a bottle of alcohol in his hand and hence was a ‘spoilt-brat’. I shook with anger. I remembered the picture with a breezer. Why was the media justifying the cause of the killers by branding this juvenile boy as a spoilt brat?

The journalist in me ached to find the real Adnan. I set off to Andheri and made way to his residence. It was a glum place, as my article mentioned. Plastic chairs were lined out in the compound to make place for the male relatives. Women scurried through the lift to console Adnan’s family. I ventured inwards, and started talking to people.

“Please go away,” one of the members of the family requested. I nodded and made my way outside. I couldn’t bring myself to explain to them that I was there to try and help them. I knew I was lying.

I had become one of the lots. I had encroached into the privacy of a grieving family to prove that I was good at my job. What was I doing?
In the depressive state I walked into Adnan’s college. I told the principal that I wanted to know who Adnan was. And contrary to the media reports, the pained principal described the 16 year old to me.
Adnan was like any other 16 year olds. Only, he was given the financial liberties that he could not deal with. Sure, it was his parents’ fault but what price did they have to pay for it? Was it fair?

Not in the least. The thirst for money forced Adnan’s killers to plan his kidnapping and then to murdering him in cold-blood, and no I don’t think the killers are to blame either. I think it is the growing gap between the rich and the poor. It is the increasing need for money to be able to eat at fancy restaurants, wear swanky jewellery, carry least gadgets and afford designer labels.

Adnan’s murderers do deserve a harsh punishment but we as a society have lead to young Adnan’s murder… Think about it.