Publisher: Bloomsbury India
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
When journalist Kalpana Mohan’s elderly father falls ill in Chennai, she is on the next flight over from California and the home she has shared with her husband for three decades. Caring for her sometimes cranky, sometimes playful, and always adored father at his home in Chennai, Mohan sets out to piece together an account of her father’s life, from his poverty-stricken childhood in a village in south India, to his arranged marriage, to his first job in the city, all the while coming to terms with his inevitable passing.
Mohan’s tender, moving, and sometimes hilarious memoir is an account of a changing India captured in her father’s life, from the sheer feat of surviving poverty in I920s India of his birth, to witnessing key moments in the nation’s history and changing alongside them. Above all, Daddykins is an intimate and deeply relatable account of our relationships with our parents whatever our age, and the shared experiences of love and grief that unite us all.
Daddykins was a heartwarming and nostalgic read. I have always been daddy’s girl and the book was a perfect pick to celebrate my father’s memories. The book reminded me of my dad’s idiosyncrasies and had me saying ‘hey, my dad did that too!’.
The author Kalpana Mohan shares her father’s journey that is seamlessly linked with that of the country. His relationships with other members have been well portrayed. I particularly liked his banter with Vinayagam. As our parents age, they get set in their ways. And more often than not, the caretakers make up for our absence. Vinayagam being fiercely protective about the author’s father and not mincing words was so real.
Daddykins also had those tiny snippets that took me back to my childhood in the 80s. When a celebration meant a choc-bar at India Gate or a 1 by 2 soup from the van. The book is completely relatable. It resonates with one born in pre-globalization India and who has an ailing parent.
The last few pages were tough to read. We can never be prepared to lose a parent, not matter how old we are. I confess I did shed a tear or two remembering my own daddykins.
I would highly recommend the book. It’s a perfect pick to celebrate your dad.