Chicken soup for the Soul – Indian fathers
Posted on: September 6, 2011.

Review by R. Narayan Kumar, a dad from Chettinad Vidyashram, R.A.Puram, Chennai.
Rate: | Age group: 10 & above

Chicken soup for the Soul – Indian fathers is an indigenous version of the popular Chicken soup for the soul series. This book is a compilation of 101 essays written by a few celebrities including Shabana Azmi, Kiran Bedi and others, with the rest of the compilation consisting of heart-warming everyday occurrences. This refreshing collection celebrates the spirit of fatherhood and is certain to spark fond memories amongst readers. Fatherhood is a joy that is primal and is a privilege that needs to be enjoyed every day.

The book is divided into six sections. The first section titled “Moulding the clay” details contributors’ experiences during the early stages of their life and how their respective fathers have influenced their thoughts, deeds and actions. In today’s environment, the father’s role and responsibility has shifted from being just someone who brings home the bacon to someone who has to take a more holistic role into the child’s overall development and ensure that the child has a balanced upbringing. Detailing individual stories would detract from the value that each of the stories provide.

The second section titled “Fitting the role” takes the reader into a set of stories where the contributors are growing up and facing various challenges of life that teenage brings with its myriad pleasures and pains. The role of parents during this formative period needs no elaboration. Some of the stories in this section appear to be clichéd and possibly influenced by media but it is worth mentioning that a father is a hero in every child’s eyes. Growing up is an existential challenge that each of us have gone through or will be going through. During such difficult times, parents provide the emotional mooring that eases one’s passage through this period. Particularly praiseworthy is the poem “My indemnity” that makes one’s eyes moist on seeing the love and affection between the poet and her father.

The third section titled “Taking up the challenge” has a very good story titled “a Letter from a father to his daughter”. This is a classic story of what we have seen and read two decades ago and how much it has affected the protagonist’s life. This section deals with how difficult situations makes one a better human being of course with the right support system in place. What we are today is ingrained out of a life time of what we have been exposed to especially during our formative years. Fathers especially have to face conflicting emotions when they realize that their dear child has grown up and are now a lissome lad or lass, who are capable of making their own decisions.

The fourth section titled “Miss you” brings out the poignancy associated with the temporary or permanent separation from a loved parent or child or for that matter from an object that we desire. There are various degrees of attachment and detachment in one’s life both material and human. A sublime poem titled “My Hero”, sets the tone of what goes through an entire lifecycle of a relationship between a father and his son. As most of our readers would perceive, there are subtle differences between a father-son relationship and a father-daughter relationship. Daughters generally have stronger memories and sentiments about their fathers who are invariably their role models. Relationships also flow and ebb based on age, experience and circumstances upon which the protagonists are thrust upon.

The last two sections titled “Child is the father of the man” and “Creating magic” provides an overall perspective and insight into various situations that we encounter some of which are unpleasant. The prospect of a divorce when the couple have teenaged or grown up children is very painful to say the least. A similar situation has been adroitly narrated in one of the stories.

In summary, this compendium reinforces the importance of a father in everyone’s lives. In today’s environment when relationships are ephemeral, a reader would definitely feel the value of relationships and will be certain to treasure those fond memories from childhood and beyond. The book could have done with better proof reading and spell checks. Spelling mistakes in quiet a few places detract from the quality of the overall product.

Go for this book my dear readers. Give yourselves a few hours to explore the bright, unfettered days of your childhood. Live your childhood dreams again and share the joys and passions with your parents.

Mr. Narayan Kumar manages a Chennai based company that provides turnkey renewable energy solutions. Mr. Kumar is an Electronics and Communications Engineer with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. His interests include Carnatic and Western Classical music, reading books on diverse subjects and leisure travel.

He has two children who study in Chettinad Vidyashram, R.A Puram.

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