Many of us don’t know that India is like a Surrogacy capital of the world, generating 24.8 billion Rupees of revenue each year, along with roughly 3,000 clinics that give you services related to Vitro Fertilization. One of us is Meera Sayal, who wants us to have a look at the situation clearly, thanks to her book The House of Hidden Mothers. The situation might look clear to some, you get one lady to produce a baby for you and you pay for the services of her womb. But then what about collateral damage?
The House of Hidden Mothers is a story about Shyama, in her 40’s, divorced, a single mother of 19-year-old brat-turned-angel daughter Tara, living with her parents in London. Shyama, who is dating Toby, now wants a child out of their relationship. They were successful in conceiving one, but then an unfortunate miscarriage made Shyama lost all her hopes. Her closure comes when her obstetrician confirms that she is not in the right state or age to have a child.
6,557 miles away, in a village, Mala is trying to find out the secret behind her neighbor’s sudden wealth. As much as she tries to find out the secret to their quick wealth, the neighbor slips away from her hands. But thanks to persuasion and perseverance, Mala figures out that her neighbor surrogated a child and got a handsome amount for it. Looking at it as a source of quick money, Mala takes off to Delhi with her husband to get registered at a clinic. From London, Shyama also packs up for Delhi, hoping to find the lost child in clusters of clinics and obstetrician tools. Destiny then plays her hand, Shyama and Mala combine together to make a story which is full of twists and turns.
Meera Sayal’s writing has vastly improved since her last book 16 years ago, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee. The House of Hidden Mothers is full of female power. Almost at every page, you face a new dilemma that many women face on a daily basis. Choosing between work and life, trust issues, problems with how-to-handle-teenage-daughter manual, taking care of parents along with a full set up of business. But all the woman characters are super strong and balanced with a pinch of crazy.
One of the best things about them is that none of them gave up due to circumstances. They all turned out to be strong and level headed when the time required.
My favorite character was of Shyama’s daughter Tara, who is one beautiful, messed up teenager for me. Someone who in the end made me smile. Who grew out to be something from whom you can learn a lot; how never to give up, prioritizing family over friends who treat you like shit, being hot headed with your mother but at the end of the day serving her tea and discussing their issues.
Overall, the book is a decent read. Though at some places, the story is a little rushed. When you reach the climax, you will demand an explanation of some of the events which may have passed your mind while you were engrossed in the story. Also, most of the story is rushed during the climax only which is a little irritating. Surrogacy and women issues as a background are good but lacks the support of facts and figures which could have been used in a great way to improve the last part of the book..