“Oh, hey. Before you leave, I wanted to have a word,” I say to the big fella with the curly long hair. “You’re a doctor, right?”
He looks away briefly before meeting my eyes, grimacing into what I imagine is his “not this shit again” face. But he’s a doctor. I’m sure he meets a lot of people that take advantage of his polite demeanor to extract a free consultation in guise of a casual conversation.
“Yeah,” he nods reluctantly.
“Alright! I wanted to get a vasectomy and I wanted to know if you have someone you could recommend me to,” I burst. I wanted to quickly – very quickly – establish that I didn’t want a diagnosis to an ailment, and rather just a recommendation of a professional. After all, we had been introduced just that very evening.
A look of relief rushes across his face. I guess I’ve set him at ease. “Yes,” he gushes. “Just go to any hospital!”
“Yes, but which one? I have no idea, na.”
“Just go to Ganga Ram,” he says like it was the most obvious thing ever. And that was when I knew I could get one done whenever. I chose to do it soon.
The day before I visit the hospital, I’m sitting nervous in a bean bag, second-guessing myself and my reasons for wanting a vasectomy. My mind frantically searching for a reason not to go. It found none but didn’t give up.
I’ve known I didn’t want any children ever since I was old enough to think about these things. You can reverse a vasectomy with some difficulty, I reason; but a child reversible is not. That and the fact that every time I imagine raising a child of my own, my heartstrings snap at the thought of the littlest of hurts this imaginary child of mine would have to experience. Raising a child outside of the sheltered utopia I’ve imagined in my mind, has always seemed too cruel an endeavor.
I do end up going. I don’t make an appointment. Instead I walk in, reasoning that I wouldn’t like to chicken out on my way there and inconvenience the doctor or their other patients. I’m glad I did because I was redirected four times, shuttled between departments with no one giving me the definitive answer. I would reach the reception area of a department and relive the same conversation
“Hi, I want a consultation for a vasectomy.”
“Nasbandi ke bare main consultation chahiye thi.”
The first receptionist directs me to a higher floor. At the reception there, I am directed to a department on the ground floor of in the next building. At the first reception I see there I am directed to the end of the corridor. There I am redirected back to the previous building. The uncertainty does no favors for the remnant of last night’s anxiety. I did somehow manage to find the right department but I had two curious interactions in the effort. At one reception the person asked who it was for. When I said it was for me, the fella flashed me a thumb-up and threw in a “It won’t hurt at all.” The next receptionist asked if I was inquiring about tubal ligation. When I had already said I wanted a vasectomy.
The doctor was shocked when I told him I was unmarried and wanted a vasectomy. “What? Why?” “You want to have sex with a girlfriend without condom?” “Have you had sex?” “Do you know semen is not sperm? They are different!”
He fires a dozen or so questions at me in quick succession. I’m too tired to explain so I answer with a “It’s a personal choice,” repeatedly. I am not able to put his concerns to rest, however. He tells me to give him a call in the evening, so he has time to confirm that he is legally covered for performing the procedure for me in my ‘condition’ of singledom.
I call him in the evening and he deflates my rising bubble in my heart quick. He tells me that I need to bring my parents next time I visit. They will have to give their consent in addition to me signing a form declaring my consent. He also says I will have to undergo psychiatric evaluation before the procedure can be approved to be performed on me.
I sense he is trying to end the call quick, so I tell him I’ll get my parents, but psych evaluation is a bit excessive. A lot of my friends are of the opinion that the requirement of parental consent is the excessive part, but I disagree. One doesn’t undergo a psych evaluation before having a child, so why before getting a vasectomy?
“Yeah, Tariq, it will be very difficult,” he offers and cuts the call.
And that’s the end of that. I’m now wondering if there’s a point going to a second doctor for another consultation.
Ultimately, I think its condemnable how difficult it was for me to find the right person to talk to to begin with. In a culture so ingrained with hyper-masculinity, setting up hurdles to an already taboo procedure, that in real terms has a large net positive effect on the person and their environment, is the wrong way to go. That and the fact that the consent of a person of adult age is valued so little.
It is reprehensible that in our country, even as an adult, one’s parents somehow still have say on what you do with your body and the State is actively helping to reinforce this structure.