"I wish to die!"
Rachna cried, hiding her face in her hands. She was my best friend since childhood. She was a vivacious, happy-go-lucky girl till she was married into an orthodox joint family. Her husband Veerenda Singh Rathore was an army captain who had won various gallantry awards.
"What happened, Rachna?" I asked as I tried to console her.
"My mother-in-law is planning to get Veer married to someone else," she said sobbing.
I felt pity for Rachna. Her offence was that she couldn't give birth to an heir to the Rathore family, even after 5 years of their marriage. Her mother-in-law was furious with her and never missed a chance to insult her in front of others. Rachna was badly traumatized and was on the verge of a break-down if not helped out of the predicament soon.
"Why don't you see Dr Yadav?" I said patting on her back. "She is the best obstetrician in our town. She had helped so many childless couple and I am sure she can solve your problem as well."
"Really?" She looked at me and I could see a flicker of hope in her eyes.
I smiled and nodded to assure her.
On my insistence, Rachna and Veer met the doctor and got the tests done. Dr Yadav, who was a friend and colleague of mine asked for my presence in her cabin when she was about to break the news to the couple. I agreed for the sake of the anxious Rachna.
"Mr Rathore," Dr Yadav said as the couple seated themselves oppsite to her, "All the tests of your wife is normal. And the problem is with you. I am sorry to say sir but you will never be able to father a child."
"What?" It was a bolt from the blue for him.
"Don't worry Mr Rathore, there is a solution to this." Dr Yadav tried to cool him down. "Your wife can conceive by an IVF using a donor sperm and you both can become happy parents."
"No!" Veer almost screamed, "I can't let my wife bear someone else's child. And if she does, I am not going to accept the one who has no blood relation with me."
With those words and an angry glare at his wife, he stomped out of the cabin.
"There is one more option." Dr Yadav turned to Rachna after Veer was gone.
In the evening that day, Rachna sat near Veer on the bed and lovingly ran a hand on his forehead.
"Veer, why don't we adopt a child? I mean...." Rachna looked apologetically at him as he glared at her, "Of some relative of ours."
"Then people will definitely know that the defect is with me otherwise I would have remarried in place of adopting a child." Veer shrugged, "That won't work out Rachna. And if we use a donor sperm it will always remind me of my disability."
"Then there is one more way."
"We can use a donor embryo. The child will neither be mine nor yours but still be ours in the eyes of all others."
"I guess we should go for it."
Rachna looked in utter disbelief at him. The look on his face was not that of absolute satisfaction but he was somewhat relieved that his weakness will remained masked from the world outside.
Rachna called me to inform that Veer has agreed to Dr Yadav's proposal. The joy of holding a baby soon in her arms was obvious in her voice.
'Why is our society so partial towards females?' I thought as I hung up. 'A male can just throw away his infertile wife and marry again. But a female has to bear with it and has no right to have a child of her own if her husband is impotent. Moreover, why a dare-devil man like Veer, who has won so many medals in the name of his bravery, had to use a mask to shield his weakness from the society?'