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Dad's the Word: The agony and ecstasy of fatherhood explored

books Updated: Jul 11, 2012 20:31 IST

Hindustan Times
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Who invented skywalks? Why is that building lit up? Do birds dream? Part of the parenthood experience is facing a barrage of questions. Part of the parenthood experience is not knowing the answer.

Dad's the Word: The Perils and Pleasures of Fatherhood, a parenting memoir by Soumya Bhattacharya and adapted from a weekly column in the Hindustan Times documents one such father-daughter question-answer interaction. Many of the answers end with an "I don't know".

From being left without an answer, to raising questions, Dad's the Word covers an entire range of experiences and emotions that being a father involves.

Bhattacharya was in conversation with Pritish Nandy at Olive Bar and Kitchen in Khar on Tuesday as part of an event to celebrate the publication of the book.

Commenting on the parenting experience as simultaneously rewarding and exhausting, Bhattacharya, in response to an audience question reflected on a few chief perils.

"Learning to live without the solitude you crave and the sense of vulnerability that parenthood imposes you," said Bhattacharya. "It's a frightening thing… It never goes away. It just changes form. It mutates into something else."

The memoir began as a weekly column in the Hindustan Times in 2008, with the episodes in Dad's the Word touching upon a variety of themes: a shared love of sport, pushy parenting, television, belief. Bhattacharya has previously written a novel documenting a father-daughter relationship, but the idea of approaching the equation from a more personal viewpoint persisted.

"When I had looked around me as a new father, I had found books on motherhood, or books on parenthood written by mothers," writes Bhattacharya in the foreword. "I couldn't see in India a fatherhood memoir that sought to examine all this new stuff that takes residence at the heart of a father's life."

Navigating the terrain of modern-day parenting, is rather a different proposition from what a previous generation of parents experienced. "It is very different because my parents never had to deal with 'why shouldn't I get onto this website'," said Bhattacharya in response to an audience question on whether parenting had changed as compared to earlier. "… It's more fraught and complex.