Bangalore: Visitors at Vijayanagar’s Janata Park may have seen the familiar sight of a father and daughter spending time alone on a park bench. The daughter’s autistic gait and irregular speech, and the father’s unkempt stubble would answer onlookers’ doubts about the reason for the worry lines on the father’s face.
But life has delivered many more sucker punches to Don Bosco, 44, than any normal human being can take. He is unemployed after an injury. His wife, the only breadwinner, recently died after a bout of depression. And the daughter, whose autism is his constant worry, is not even his. Still he loves her deeply, and caring for her is right now the only purpose of his dreary life.
Bangalore Mirror had recently reported about the surrogacy racket involving Srushti Global Diagnostics (Fertility clinic gives man surrogate baby he did not father, BM, Oct 12), which Don Bosco had exposed. The accused, KT Gurumurthy, an embryologist-pretender, has been arrested, but Bosco has moved on to face his share of troubles.
He still remembers how he went to the lab in February 2008, almost pleading with Gurumurthy to help his wife Sarala Devi conceive. The couple were childless after several years of marriage. After donating his semen, he had hoped there would soon be a ray of hope in their life. But seven months later, their lives turned topsy-turvy when they were handed over the girl child, who Gurumurthy claimed was born through surrogacy. Despite misgivings on the premature birth, the couple accepted the child since they had paid an amount of Rs 3.5 lakh, and named her Mrudalika.
For the first five years, they brought up the baby as their own. But their joy did not last for long as they started noticing the child’s irregular growth. Only later was it diagnosed that the child suffered from autism. Even then Sarala, who was a teacher at an international school, took complete care of Mrudalika as any loving mother would. But the strain and the steady rise in expenses in caring for both the sick child as well as her unemployed husband, took a heavy toll on Sarala. She died two months ago in August this year.
This was when Bosco, who had always nursed doubts about the child’s antecedents, took a paternity test on the suggestion of the North-division police. When the report came, he was shocked to have his suspicions confirmed that he was not Mrudalika’s father. While Bosco is determined to follow through on legal measures against Gurumurthy — whose police custody was extended on Wednesday till October 20 — his love for his daughter has only grown
TO REMAIN A SINGLE PARENT
He is adamant that he would bring her up on his own, even though funding her treatment is a struggle. So never mind she cannot call him even ‘appa’, or talk normally, and never mind how much the therapy would cost, he is willing to pay the price.
Bosco told BM, “My wife was the sole breadwinner of the family, as I could not work after a factory accident in 2010. While she was at work, I took care of the Mrudalika. She never called her ‘amma’, nor me ‘appa’, but the smile on her face is all I want. Even if I look for a full-time job, caring for my baby would be a problem. Right now her grandmother chips in. But ultimately her care is my responsibility.”
The family is currently residing at RPC Layout near Vijayanagar in a house which Bosco jointly owns with his sister. To fund the treatment, he has rented out a portion of his house, occupying just one room. The rent is shared with his sister.
As the two stepped out from the park bench to take a walk, Bosco said, “I will do anything to keep her happy. She never plays with toys like children her age. She has a special affection for tubes. So be it a face wash or toothpaste, I empty the tube and give it to her. That is the only thing she plays with.”
Mrudalika face is expressionless and she doesn’t know what is going on around her, but as she embraces her father after a tiring day, Bosco says that is all that matters.