The first word uttered by a child is always special but when both of Abhishek Paul’s twins uttered “Baba” before anything else, it was validation for his years of struggle.
FD Block resident Abhishek is a single father. His wife passed away with her head on his lap, when she was eight months pregnant, but some eight years later he went on to have identical twins through surrogacy. “After my wife’s passing, I decided never to remarry but I loved kids and wanted to become a father. So after careful consideration, I initiated the process at a fertility clinic in Delhi and then informed my close relatives and friends,” he said.
The process required an egg donor, who Abhishek was allowed to choose after going through profiles of willing candidates. But the surrogate mother was chosen by the hospital. All was smooth till the lockdown got called.
“The twins were slated arrive in June 2020 but suddenly on April 1 I got a call saying they would be born pre-term, the next day,” recalls Abhishek. This was in the peak of the first lockdown and there was no way he could reach Delhi. “It was two months later when flights resumed that I, along with my mother, a cousin and a friend, could fly down and bring the babies home.”
When Abhishek first held Aabahon and Adhyayan in his arms, it was an emotional moment. “I was reminded of the times my wife and I would feel our baby’s kicks from inside her womb. One can’t describe the feeling in words,” he says.
But the pandemic posed problems for the new father. “Neither could we appoint a nanny nor were we getting adequate support from doctors, who were barely touching the babies while checking or vaccinating them. How can babies be checked on video call? The only consolation was that since offices were shut, I could stay home and bond with the boys,” says the man who runs a publishing house.
The boys are now two and have learnt to walk, speak a few words (like baba), and are pulling everything at arm’s length and trying to put it in their mouths.
Abhishek is confident of undertaking roles of both father and mother. “We are gifted with both faculties and they manifest themselves as and when needed,” he believes. “A mother may be petrified of cockroaches, but if a roach approaches her child, she can turn into Ma Durga. Similarly, I take on what are traditionally a mother’s roles — I worry when the kids refuse to eat, when they cry, fall ill...”
Abhishek is taking it one day at a time. “I know there will come a day when the boys question me about their mother. God will give me the strength to answer them appropriately then. And if their friends ask them about it, they can say: ‘Baba amar ma er moton’. As for society, I have never cared what they think,” says the man who believes Fathers’ Day (June 19) cannot be restricted to just 24 hours in a year.
The recent Bengali film Baba Baby O shares its premise with Abhishek’s life. “I was invited to the film’s premiere too and found that the concept of surrogacy was inspired from my story. But the similarity ended there. The rest of the film was a love story about a single guy looking to mingle,” says
Abhishek. “That’s not me. My life is complete with my children.”
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