Om Kali versus Angelina JolieAugust 24th, 2008 - 12:42 pm ICT by IANS
Doghat (Uttar Pradesh), Aug 24 (IANS) At a time when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have received $14 million from a magazine for photographs of their newborn twins, in faraway rural India, Om Kali and Chander Singh, both in their 70s, are cashing in on being the oldest couple to give birth - that too to twins!The farmer couple, from the tiny village of Doghat in Uttar Pradesh, already have two daughters who are over 40 years old and seven grandchildren. But when the sons-in-law started fighting over their property, they felt the need for a male heir.
“I read about the process of artificial fertilisation in the newspaper and went to a clinic in Meerut where they told me it might work for my mother-in-law,” says son-in-law Rambir Singh.
Om Kali artificially received her husband’s sperm, conceived and gave birth to twins on June 24.
“When I entered the hospital, she was lying on a stretcher, covered with a sheet. When I asked what her ailment was, she responded, ‘I’m pregnant’. My reply was, ‘Are you mad!’” said Nisha Malik, gynaecologist and co-owner of the Ganga Ram Hospital in Muzaffarnagar, about 100 km from Doghat.
Malik recalled how Om Kali came to her, eight months pregnant and ready to deliver. “The caesarean was complicated since she had low blood pressure and was bleeding profusely, and the babies were in ‘breach position’ (upside down),” she explained.
A boy and girl were born, weighing 1 and 1.1 kg respectively.
“She had not been taking proper treatment and was going to different local doctors, which must also have affected the health of the babies,” Malik said.
Both were so weak they had to be immediately transferred to an incubator in Meerut. Now, they are both healthy.
For the time being, Chander Singh and his family are making good use of their “Divine Gift”.
“We have an agreement with Barcroft Media that we will not allow anyone else to photograph Om Kali and the twins,” said Rambir Singh when IANS expressed interest in seeing and photographing them. “But how much are you willing to pay?” he promptly asked.
Furious consultations began among the 20 or so family members, friends and onlookers, gathered in their courtyard and finally, one of them disclosed to us: “No photographs of the woman and children for less than Rs.50,000.”
But what future awaits the children?
“This is god’s will,” says Chander Singh. Often seeking the approval of his elder sister before answering, he says: “Whatever she says I do”.
“The government should look after these children now,” Chander Singh insists, clearly oblivious to the irony that having produced an heir at great risk to the life of his septuagenarian wife, his inheritance is likely to consist of little more than debt.
“They have had to sell five bighas of their seven bighas of land and now they have nothing,” says Rambir, smiling.
Also, instead of squabbling over property, Rambir and his brother-in-law will now undoubtedly fight over guardianship of the boy as a means of controlling the land, as he will most likely be orphaned soon.
Says gynaecologist Malik: “After hearing about them, people have started coming to me, saying, ‘You managed to deliver a baby for a 70-year-old, I’m only 56!’ I explain to them that it is not only very dangerous to undergo artificial fertilisation at that age but also that thereafter, they have hardly any time left to spend raising their children.”
“Unfortunately, there has been little change in rural society with regard to the desire for a male child.”
Om Kali’s absence during the entire duration of this interview also makes one wonder if she is not being held virtually captive in her own home while her family capitalises on her feat of becoming possibly the oldest woman in the world to give birth.
Discrepancies on virtually everything - from the age of Chander Singh, to whether or not the twins have been named yet - makes this story ever murkier.
But what is clear is that it has the makings of a Hollywood script, and Om Kali seems to be giving Angelina a run for her money.
(Devyani Rao can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)