Chennai: "Child for sale. Barely five weeks old. Healthy girl, weight 2.60 kg. Price: Rs 50,000. Interested parties can contact Padma, 90th Cross Street, Chemmenchery." This could well be the text of an advertisement for the 23-year-old mother's baby. But then she needs no advertisement as there are enough brokers around to spread the word. After Express got wind of it, the reporter and a photographer visited Padma's 158 sq ft dingy house, posing as a Malayali couple looking for a girl child for a relative based in London. "I have been bottle feeding the baby with Aavin milk, right after the first week of delivery, so as to make it easier for the buyer to take care of her," assures the mother.
Padma, who has a three-year-old son from her marriage, came to Chennai two years ago after her husband, Selvam, with whom she was living in Madurai, deserted her. After moving into her mother Appammal's place, she started working in the housekeeping department of a big company on the Old Mahabalipuram Road. That was where she met a man in a 'high position' while on duty, developed a relationship, became pregnant and delivered the baby girl at Egmore children’s hospital on June 17.
But why didn't she opt for abortion? Appammal says, "Padma was three months pregnant when they came to know about it. Friends and relatives persuaded her to deliver the baby and then give it away to some childless couple." Others in the colony have a different take. They say Appammal thought of using pregnancy as a tool to arm-twist the man into marrying Padma but later settled for a huge compensation. Be that as it may, Padma claims she got an offer of Rs 1.2 lakh for the infant, but turned it down as the buyer intended to take the baby away only after four months. Clearly, she is in a hurry to part with the infant, tentatively named Priyadarshini.
Friends and relatives persuaded Padma to deliver the baby and give it away to some childless couple.
Appammal justifies the sale, saying she wants Padma to move on in life and marry another man she has already identified. She will also take care of Padma's three-year-old son, Appammal claims. When Express asked if a photograph of the child could be shot to help the couple in London take their call, the sleeping baby opened her eyes and smiled, little knowing she was up for sale.