The first-time parents were driving through India’s winding, empty highways to see their newborn child.
It was the middle of April, and the country was in the throes of the world’s harshest lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Almost everything was shut.
At checkpoints, policemen halted the couple, examined their papers and asked why they were on the road.
“We are going to see our first-born infant,” they replied.
The policemen looked incredulous, staring at the woman in the vehicle.
“What do you mean you are going to see your newborn? Where is the baby?” they would say, eyes searching the insides of the SUV.
The couple would explain their daughter had been born, more than a week ago, to a surrogate mother in Anand, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat better known as the country’s “milk capital”. And that they were travelling from their home city of Bangalore, some 1,600km (994 miles) away in south India, to take her home.
“Still there was a lot of confusion. But in the end they would check our papers and allow us to proceed,” Rakesh (name changed), the father of the child told me.
Their child was one of dozens of surrogate babies stranded in clinics across India because of the lockdown. She was among one of 28 babies born at Anand’s Akanksha Hospital and Research Institute since late March when the lockdown was imposed. More than 50 days later, at least 10 babies were still waiting for their parents to arrive.