Lalli Shantaram was only 18 when she got married to a man barely two years her senior
Lalli Shantaram was only 18 when she got married to a man barely two years her senior. It was a typical arranged marriage in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, with as many as 200 people in attendance. Like is normal with most rural folk, they began asking her for a baby even before she completed a year of marriage. While she would initially shy away, facing the question became part and parcel of her life, for as long as three decades. And beyond a point, no one questioned. They taunted and reminded her she was “baanjh” (infertile).
While the first five years of her marriage were tough, it only got tougher with passing time owing to her inability to bear a child. When Lalli was about 26, her husband and she were offered to adopt his elder brother’s son who was about seven years old then. Lalli, who had resigned to her fate, accepted the offer since it meant that she would have a child to call her own and at the same time, she would have less advise and taunts coming her way.
They adopted Ranjan, a sweet little boy whose eyes twinkled every time he was asked how he liked his “new Ma” (new mother). He would simply smile and that made Lalli feel good too. After all, it was testimony to the fact that she could be a good mother. Lalli’s husband, Shantaram, found the entire arrangement joyful. A kid in the house, a wife who suddenly turned mother, cheer and laughter in abundance, he felt blessed.
While Lalli brought up Ranjan to the best of her capability, for almost an entire decade she heard a lot of people still pitying her for not being able to get pregnant with a child of her own. She also felt awkward everytime someone made her feel lucky to be able to get a kid from the same house. Ranjan grew up and was married off when he was 25. Lalli was close to being 50 and she was a mother-in-law. It would have seemed like a complete family but just then, on one of the afternoons, a distant cousin from Gujarat happened to visit her. They met and spoke about the son, his marriage and her inability to become a mother many seasons ago. The cousin, Maya, opened up and spoke to Lalli about her period cycle. Lalli confided that she was approaching menopause. And just then, Maya happened to tell her about a hospital in Gujarat’s Anand where she could try and have a baby of her own. At close to 50? Lalli wondered aloud. But Maya was kind yet adamant. She told her about the hospital and reignited the desire in Lalli to become a mother! Now, this seemed like an impossible reality, especially since Lalli’s periods had stopped. Also for the fact that she was mother-in-law and thinking of this awkward wish coming true could change her life.
Lalli and Shantaram visited the doctor at the hospital. It was possible to reverse her period cycle, the doctor informed Lalli. Without a blink, she decided to try once again, after all these years, and make her wish come true. Her treatment began. After over 30 years of marriage, Lalli got pregnant and became a mother at 51. Her joy knew no bounds and science made it possible for her wish to come true. No wonder it is said, never give up.