Bengaluru: Daddykins, a memoir, authored by Kalpana Mohan, was released at Catholic Club here on February 15 in the presence of specially invited guests and well-wishers. Greg D’Sa, an event manager, introduced the book to the audience and presented it with his comments and remarks. Greg, a professional in stage management, posed a number of queries to familiarize the audience with the content of the book. The author clarified all the points Greg and others raised for everyone present to get a glimpse of the book.
Shoba Narayan commenting on the 192 page book wrote: ‘Kalpana Mohan’s luminous prose hums with tenderness and affection for the man she calls “Daddykins”. This charming book offers a kaleidoscopic and hilarious lens into the lives and relationships that make up India.’
The book divided into 28 chapters gives an account, step by step, of the life of Mohan and Kalpana in its totality.
When journalist Kalpana Mohan’s elderly father falls ill in Chennai, she’s on the next flight over from California and the home she has shared with her husband for three decades. Kalpana 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.
The book is Mohan’s (Kalpana’s) tender, moving and sometimes hilarious meroir is an account of a challenging India captured in her father’s life, from the sheer feat of surviving poverty in the 1920s India of his birth, to witnessing key moments in the nation’s history and changing alongside them. 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, priced at Rs 399 and published by Bloomsbury from New Delhi, London, Oxford, New York and Syndney, begins at the very end of her father’s life.
‘I loved Daddykins, the book and the man,’ says Lori Ostlund.
Speaking about the book and about her father, Kalpana said Daddykins had always liked to be wished a Happy Birthday on three occasions – September 15 (his real birthday), October 2 (Gandhi Jayanthi) and on Tamil birthday. To hurt his first cry upon a World lit up by kerosene lamps was an achievement in 1923, a year in which over 200,000 lives had been lost to the plague in India.
Mohan was born into penurious circumstances but retired as a “Class 1” officer from the Accountant General’s office in 1981.
Sixteen years later, in 1997, her father began working, once again. This time his boss would be his own elder son-in-law, Thalaivar. Work at the office sustained her father during her mother’s chemotherapy; it became his savior when she passed away in 2005. Until a fateful day a little after his 90th birthday in 2012, her father used to be at work from 10 am to 4 pm every day. On the afternoon of his 90th birthday, Thalaivar and his staff ordered a cake that said ‘To Infinity and Beyond.’ Thalaivar gave a speech about Daddykins and his remarkable work ethic. Kalpana said, “I knew that inside his ninety-year-old shell he still heard the ethos of a youth at twenty.”
Daddykins was gracious thoughout, although he seemed a tad pre-occupied. While driving back in the car after the party, he turned to Kalpana’s sister to ask her one question, ‘Was this a birthday or a sendoff?’ Daddykins called his three sisters The Three Roses of Palakkad.
Kalpana Mohan admitted that she was not a great writer such as Sashi Tharoor. It took four years to complete the book. Kalpana left her job in 1999 to become a freelance journalist. During the interactive session, some women also aired their views, experiences and relationship with their dads.
Greg D’Sa made the whole book launch programme lively, appealing and interesting. Jude Lobo, Member Incharge, Library, Catholic Club, also spoke on the occasion encouraging the author and inviting the audience to pick up a book each at a discounted price. Christine, a Club committee member, proposed a vote of thanks.
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