Kishwar Desai minces no words and brings to the fore the twisted medical tourism industry in India
Which couple doesn’t dream of the ideal family, replete with a bunch of happy, gurgly babies, the pitter-patter of little feet and eventually a bunch of rambunctious kids? But what happens when this dream comes crashing down because one of the partners cannot have a baby for a medical reason? There’s heartbreak, dejection and often rifts so serious that nothing can heal a relationship. This is exactly where India’s designer baby boom steps in, in Kishwar Desai’s latest novel Origins of Love.
The novel throws light on the booming surrogacy industry in India and all the underhanded business that goes on in India’s many fertility and ART clinics. With the ART Bill still in limbo, there are several loopholes for medical practitioners to exploit and that is exactly what they do in this book. Despite the desperate childless couples heading to clinics in the country, these clinics seem to have one aim — exploit the clients and the surrogates. At the heart of all this money-making business lies a little baby, a product of IVF, abandoned with an ailment that leaves absolutely no hope for her future. But the Pandeys, the couple who run the IVF clinic where this baby, Amelia, was born, have no idea how such an error could have occurred. Until their friend Simran, an activist of sorts, steps in and offers to investigate. Her investigation takes her to London, to try and trace the source of this whole problem, all the time posing as a woman desperate to have a baby, no matter what or who it takes. But what lurks beneath is chilling — so chilling it makes you wonder what the cost of a human life really is.
The plot is interesting and Kishwar Desai successfully weaves in several stories together to form one electrifying novel. There are couples desperate to have babies, there’s a doctor couple promising to make this dream come true, there’s the tout who arranges for the surrogates and then there’s another doctor who is bent on running the ART clinic like a profitable business, all the time conducting his own little secret experiments on embryonic cells.
The outcome of it all has the reader gripped. What really works for Desai’s novel is the fact that it minces no words and brings to fore the booming but somewhat twisted medical tourism in India. Read it,for a glimpse into what really goes on in those little clinics that line nondescript streets, promising to make your baby dreams come true.
Name: Origins of Love
Author: Kishwar Desai
Publisher: Simon & Schuster