Makes Love, Not War
I must confess that, sometimes, in the course of my
clinical practice as an andrologist, I feel like an anti-national
traitor. Indian already has more than a billion people, and
here I am, helping couples produce more babies to add to this
already humungous population figure. Am I doing the right
thing? Should I not be catching and sterilizing all the vas
deferens between wen and women who come to me asking for help to
produce babies, instead of treating them? What difference does
it makes if fifteen percent of the population can't have
children? Don't we have enough orphan and destitute children who are
in need to nurture and good home? Why are people
obsessed with transmission of their own genetic material?
In certain affluent northern European countries
like Germany and Sweden, governments are actually pleading with
their citizens to produce more babies because their populations are
declining. Couples are being offered special incentives to make
babies! Yet, there are not too many takers. And here we
are, a billion people wanting to become a zillion. The government
exhorts us to 'plan' our families, but nobody cares. In the
course of my long career as a clinical andrologist, I have often
thought of the Indian fertility versus population paradox.
But when I bring up this subject for discussion with
peers and colleagues, they call me Gain One organ, lose another
kind of traitor instead. A traitor to andrology and reproductive
medicine. 'You are going to put all of us out of business if
you go on like this, Sudhakar. Your viewpoints are suicidal to
our bloody careers, don't you see?' one colleague with
thick specs, who specializes in manufacturing twins and triplets,
told me. His severe short-sightedness seemed to me to be as
much figurative as literal, extending far beyond the merely
'You seem preoccupied, doc,' I suddenly heard a
voice. 'If this is not a good time, we can always come again
I was jolted out of my id-day reverie by the young couple
in front of me. A seated man had suddenly stood up. Hell, now
I was being made to feel like a traitor to my patients! Today
was not my day. It seemed more like Traitors Day. I wondered
if the Archie's and Hallmark guys had thought of that
already. And it was only noon yet! I recalled what my wife had
told me earlier that morning. She too had alleged that I
was a traitor because I didn't drop our daughter to
school after she missed the school bus. 'You only think
of yourself,' the wife alleged. 'In what way is your surgery more
important than my yoga class? If the driver doesn't come one day, I
have to become the driver.'
Ultimately, all guys are
MCPs, she insinuated.
Meek or termagant, ultimately all women are
ball-breakers, I had countered.
Dog's Day was another new concept that
came to mind. Again I wondered if the Archies and Hallmark guys
had already though of that too Finally I spoke.
'Kindly excuse my preoccupation. I was absorbed
with another metaphysical in the fast guys
and other seminal matters . But that's resolved
now. Please tell me what I may do for you.'
The Troglodytes and Gentlemen in
front of me sat down again. And began, 'Where shall I begin,
'How about starting with the primary purpose of your visit
and then working backwards, if necessary?' I suggested, hoping he'd
get the hint right away. That was enough impetus for
our man. After that, he was like a dam whose gates had
just been opened.
'For the past several months, my wife and I have just
been fighting. It's been about two-and-a-half years since we got
married, and, right from the beginning, from the wedding night itself, she
has been obsessed with just one thing.'
Before I could guess what that one thing was,
the chap said, 'Producing babies.'
Shit! My guess had turned out
wrong. I let him continue.
'Why are women so competitive when it comes to
producing kids, doc? Is it some kin of disease? My
wife is always telling me that the so-and-sos have been
married only two years and that they already have Monty and
Mini, or that this one's gotten sex during pregnancy in just
six months of marriage
, and so on. She also has a lot of inside
information about what goes on in other people's bedrooms and about
their intimate sex lives. How often they do it. What
positions they adopt. Which time of the month is best.
How many times per day. It's embarrassing for me to learn that
my wife is discussing all these things with other people.
Aren't these supposed to be intimate and personal thing? I'm
sure that she tells everyone what we do in our bedroom too, though
she denies it vehemently when I confront her. I'm sure all her
friends think that she's a fertile goddess and that I'm sure
kind of sterile wimp in the bedroom. To her, making babies is
like a contest she just has to win. But right now, everybody else
but her is winning it.' He paused.
'The maternal instinct and yearning in women is very
strong one,' I told him, thinking that the last prize his wife
won must've been at a rangoli competition in college. I could
understand her need to win another one, especially this one.
There's something about rangolis and motherhood. They
connect. I plodded him to get on with his tale. I had begun
to enjoy it now.
'Yeah doc, but there's a limit to everything. Will
it be the end of the world if we don't have kids? We'll try to
have them, of course, but is that the sole purpose of our
existence? Does everything, from morning to night, have to revolve
around this? The other day, she called me up in the office and
ordered me to come home right away . when I asked if there was
some emergency, she said, "yes, of course, but why don't you
understand , I can't tell you over the phone.'
'I was in the midst some chaos in the office myself, and
going home was unthinkable to me. Goddamn it, home was
twenty-sex kilometers away! When I persisted with wanted
to know what the matter was, she started sobbing and screaming on
the phone and told me that I didn't care about her and that
she plans to call up her father and go to his house
right away. I was now really worried. Is there
something so serious that she cannot tell me over the
phone? Am I being an inconsiderate SOB?'
He paused for breath.
Everyone needs oxygen.
'Feeling like a heel, I abruptly put all work matters on
hold and charged out of the office. Luckily, the afternoon traffic
was not too bad. I kept chewing my nails and honked and snarled at a
few pedestrians and autos en route home. My poor
baby, I was saying to myself. I hoped that nothing
calamitous had befallen her. I would have never forgiven myself if I
reached too late and was not there in my wife's hour of need.
I was perspiring, breathing hard, and smoking incessantly. The
inside of the Carrie was so hazy with smoke that, with the air
conditioning on, visibility was blurry. I was coughing
and choking moreover. I finally reached home and charged up
the stairs, praying to God for the first time in many, many years.'
Interrupting his story now would be really
lousy timing, like coit us interrupts, I told myself ,
and waited for him to resume. This man didn't seem to be
running out of words.
'Ten doorbell rings, and there's no answer, doc.
When I tried to call my wife's mobile and the mobile and the
home line, there was no answer. Should I call the cops, or ask
the neighbors? I started pounding on the door. Still there
was no answer. Finally, I realized that I had my house keys right
there in my pocket, along with the Carrie keys. With sweaty
and shaky fingers, I turned the key and praised the door open.
Guess what I saw, doc?'
This guy ought to have been writing thrillers
and making movies, not babies, I thought to myself. How could
I guess? With this Alfred Hitchcock, anything was
possible. My only thought was that so far there wasn't any real
'I hope it was nothing serious ,' was all I
could think of.
'You won't believe it, doc. The house
was in pitch darkness. All the curtains were drawn. The
living area was empty. Petrified, I tiptoed to the
bedroom, prepared for the worst. And what do I see?'
My stoic demeanour remained unchanged. I've been
around.'Doc, my wife is absolutely stark raving mad I tell you.
There was soft music playing in the bedroom, the lights were
dim, some aromatic candles had been lit, and two glasses. I
couldn't see the wife anywhere. I had no clue about how
to react to all this. My fear had turned to shocked relief, to
bewilderment, and now rage. I pushed the bathroom door open
and went in to check. My wife was hiding behind the
shower curtain, wearing a sheer nightgown and musky
perfume. She sprang forward, threw her arms around my neck,
and part kissing me passionately. I was surprised to note that I was
actually so relieved that I even joined in the
fun. My wife then grabbed my hand and slapped a folded piece
of paper on my palm. I looked at the paper but didn't have a
clue to what it was.'
'My ovulation chart, dude. Have ovulated! Today's the
big day man. We just have to do it right here and now.
This is our best chance.'
'With that, doc, can you believe it, she peeled off all her pretensions
I observed that this chap had a natural aptitude
for crescendos. I didn't want to interrupt his climax.
'I succumbed to the enchantress in her even as I was cursing
myself for having left the office so irresponsibly and having
myself for being so weak. I had lost both at work and at
home. "Let me take a quick shower first," I mustered. I recalled
that in the Housie games I've watched so often at clubs,
there always was a Lucky Loser. That day, it was my turn.'
again thought of the Archie's and Hallmark Guys. 'Loser's
'This was three months ago, doc, and she still hasn't
conceived. That's why we are here. We are fighting with
each other everyday. Neither feels like making love any more, no
matter what. Nonetheless, my wife is desperate to get pregnant at
any cost. How can I make love to her, doc, when
she's at war with me all the time? We have been seeing
specialists for more than a year and have been told that all
our tests are completely normal. Some have advise a test
tube baby. One doc asked me to undergo an
operation. My relatives say that we should try alternative
medicine. We don't know whom to follow, what to believe. We
are at the end of the road.'
After a detailed talk and a perusal of all
their reports, I concluded that theirs was a classical case of
overkill. Too much anxiety, too much investigation. I
decided that these guys needed a break from all
this. I recommended to them that they lay off all plans
to have a baby for the next several months and just
enjoy sex themselves and their sex lives all over again like
newlyweds. No tests. No treatments. I set them a
deadline of six months. 'After six months, if we don't see any
progress, we'll get aggressive,' I assured them.
I didn't hear from them for several
months after that. I had almost forgotten about them. Then one
day, after more than a year, I got a call from Mr Hitchcock.
'You were absolutely right, doc! My
wife's due to deliver in another four months or so. I
just thought I should inform you. Thanks so much for
My Belgian professor's words came to mind.
'Remember one thing Sudhakar,' he had once told me, 'Sometimes, in
infertility, doing nothing is everything.'
I couldn't agree
more. The Hitchcock's were proof paramount.
Take Home Message:
Infertility is defined as
an inability to conceive after one to one-and-a-half
years of regular, unprotected sexual
. Only after that period
must an infertility evaluation being. Unfortunately, many people are
unaware of this and seek treatment much sooner. This leads to
a lot of unnecessary anxiety, emotional, mental and relationship
strains, and needless expenditure. All this can be
avoided with proper education. Further information on
male infertility is available on http://www.IndiaInfertility.com