For many of us, parenthood happened with neither too much fuss nor thought, a part of the many
in-between occurrences in the natural cycle of birth and death that all of us are destined to live
Yet, if someone were to ask me about the happiest moment of my life, I would say, the birth of my
child . . . When my child was old enough to question such abstracts, he wanted to know why it was
the happiest moment of my life, and I floundered for a reply.
How does one answer such a question? How do you say what it was to first sense a life within, or
the gradual growth of that life and the countless thoughts about its well—being even when it had no
real form? How do you explain those days and nights of letting that life take over mine——the
anticipation, the anxiety, the dreams, the fears and the hopes? Eventually when my baby lay cradled
in my arm, I gazed into his eyes and knew that nothing I ever did in my life would measure up to that
moment. The pride of having created and nurtured a life; the humility of knowing that his presence
also owed itself to his irrefutable will to be there . . . and that nothing would ever be the same again.
How does one explain this to an adolescent boy without sounding mawkish or sentimental? So, I
sought refuge in a platitude: wait until you are a parent yourself and you will know. . .
It is this that Anitha sought, to be a mother, to know that singular moment of joy. Strangely enough,
nature itself conspired against her. Around her, all of nature blossomed and burgeoned with fecundity
and others became mothers with ease. She alone waited, unable to comprehend why motherhood
was denied to her. It was then that she put her faith into medical science. Science, she hoped, could
perhaps encourage, where nature had hesitated.
Medical science did not fail her hopes. Motherhood was promised and motherhood happened. The
cruel irony was that she almost lost her life to nurture the one within her. It was then, as the final act
of betrayal, she discovered that all she had been was a surrogate mother. All she had done was
provide her womb to house a life that owed its origins to neither her nor her husband . . .
Where do we draw the lines that define the sanctity of life? When do we decide to let medical
science play God and at what point do we call a halt? Who will draw the ethical line of conduct that
separates the medical profession from assembly line production? Anitha’s account of her tryst with
ART, Assisted Reproductive Technology, may provide no answers. It, however, throws a spotlight
on our laws that allow such vagrant trespasses. It is both a cautionary report for couples seeking
ART and a moving memoir of a young woman desperately seeking to be a mother.
Nowhere in this book does Anitha seek to attack or weaken medical science, especially what ART
has accomplished. On the contrary, she raises some pertinent questions that could lead to the
institution of a code of laws to regulate the use of ART in India. All she hopes is to prevent a
repetition of her anguish, betrayal, pain and a sense of loss in other lives. We owe it to our children,
ourselves . . . and those waiting to be born.
Usually those who have made a mark in any field of human endeavour write memoirs. At the very
outset, I would like to say that my memoirs chronicle not my success, but the unimaginably tough
times that were my companions for many of my thirty—two years.
The unbearable suffering I had to endure lent indelible ink to my pen. I managed to survive some
very traumatic experiences that turned my life inside out. Had it not been for them, my story could
have been told in just a few lines——Anitha, thirty—two, teacher. Father: Kuttan Nair. Mother:
Vijayalakshmi. Siblings: Chithra and Anoop. Husband: Advocate N. Jayadevan. Residence:
Mezhathur. Offspring: None. Mine was a very ordinary life.
To delve into the vast realm of the medical sciences is not an easy task and while writing my memoirs
I often felt I was a child, untrained in swimming, seeking to explore the depths of the ocean.
However, my misfortunes and painful experiences are inextricably entwined with medical science. In
spite of tormenting me and making my life a living hell, medical science, I strongly believe, has been
vindicated, since it helped me survive against difficult odds, and in the process lent me the courage to
pen this book.
I write this book for the millions of Indian couples who throng infertility clinics and are put through
avoidable suffering. I hope to give voice to their untold physical and mental pain, and financial
exploitation. This story is a battle cry for the unorganized, unfortunate, helpless and infertile millions
of India. While bemoaning the losses I had to endure, I consider it my duty to do what I can for my
fellow beings. My God—given lease of life becomes meaningful when I recount my story. I will have
to continue my endeavours and patiently wait for the realization of its fullness.
Back of the Book
‘It is both a cautionary report for couples seeking ART and a moving memoir of a young woman
desperately seeking to be a mother.’
Married at twenty-three, Anitha Jayadevan was anxious and impatient when a year
passed by and she had not conceived. Spurred by family, friends and her own sense of inadequacy
and desire to have a child of her own flesh and blood, she decided to seek the help of medical
In Malicious Medicine she recounts the story of the next eight harrowing years of her life,
where words like endometriosis, spermatogenesis, varicocele, IUI and Beta HCG became part of
her vocabulary, and visits to infertility clinics, blood tests and scanning in the name of assisted
reproductive technology (ART) became part of her everyday existence. The treatment was painful,
invasive and expensive, and the medical practitioners more often than not were callous, inefficient
and unfeeling. The result was a twin pregnancy after seven long years. But the joy was short-lived as
she lost both the fetuses and in the bargain nearly her life. Then, as the final act of betrayal, she
discovered that all she had been was a surrogate mother.
But Malicious Medicine is not just about the physical ordeal and the psychological
trauma Anitha went through. It asks larger questions about the sanctity of life and the place of ethics
that separate the medical profession from an assembly line production. Anitha’s fight in not against
medical science because it is medical science that brought her back to life. Instead, she pleads for the
institution of a code of laws to regulate the use of ART in India so that others are spared her anguish,
betrayal and pain.
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