Famous author Ruskin Bond once said, when it comes to upbringing of children, the mother’s role has often been discussed but seldom the father’s.
It is true that we often read about the struggles the single mothers go through to raise their children where as the single fathers are barely discussed. We have seen the hardships single mothers face but hardly think about fathers who bring up their children all alone. Challenge of raising children as a single father is not easy. These fathers, who lose their spouses or remain single by choice, juggle between work and home chores and learn some tasks they never thought they will need to do in their lives. From figuring how to tie their daughter’s ribbon to preparing meals, single dads do everything to understand the motherly side of parenting. On the occasion of Father’s Day, a few of these Super Dads share with Sunday POST the challenges they face in raising their children.
It might take some time for the Indian society to accept bachelors adopting kids or seeing men fulfilling the responsibilities of parenthood without having a woman in their life. A responsible single father can certainly do as good a job of raising his children as a single mom. Rourkela-based businessman Saswat Swayamprakash (name changed) is a case in point.
Saswat rescued a newborn from a bush on the morning of July 7, 2012. He found her crying inconsolably with ants found on her body. He rushed her to a nearby hospital where she underwent treatment for three days. He says, “After her recovery, I wanted to take her into my house but my family was against the decision. Despite their objections, I brought her into my house. My orthodox grandmother was furious, suspecting the child as the result of an illicit relationship. Therefore she can’t be accepted, said my grandma. My parents too stopped talking to me for three months. I had to face a lot of flak for my ‘Prakruti’. I had selected this name as I received her from nature. ”
Saswat continues: “When Prakruti turned two, I officially adopted her and threw a big birthday bash at Hanuman Vatika to introduce her to my near and dear. When I rescued Prakruti, she was a newborn baby. So, I had to spend many sleepless nights. I have no regret for adopting her. She is very good at studies and well-behaved.”
It is not only Prakruti, Saswat has adopted two more kids from an orphanage in the last six years. He says he feels blessed to have Prakruti as she, at such a tender age, now looks after the other two children when he remain absent at home. Saswat even had to call it quits with his fiancée of 10 years as his relationship was gradually coming in the way of his parenthood.
He now plans to adopt two more children. That’s not all. Earlier, Saswat was working in the government sector but had to quit job to look after his kids. Interestingly, he has not ever told his children that he is not their biological father. Whenever they ask him about their mother, he says their mother had passed away in an accident.
“Meanwhile, my parents’ behaviour towards my kids has changed. They love to spend time with them and take care as if they are their own grandchildren. It makes me happy”, Saswat signs off.
Bhubaneswar-based businessman Arijit Mitra, has been both dad and mom to his 17-year-old daughter for the last four years following his wife’s death in heart attack.
Arijit says, “When my wife passed away, my daughter was in Class IX. As she was very close to her mother, it was not easy on her part to accept things as they are and move on in life. I have been trying my best to keep her happy. At the beginning it was difficult for both of us to bear the sudden loss. But for the sake of my daughter’s future, I had no choice but to forget about the pain of losing my wife. I started taking care of her little things like cooking her favourite dishes to bring her out of the trauma. Gradually, we became friends and she started sharing her secrets with me.”
“If your wife is no more, you have to understand that the kids will have no one but you to take care of their emotional needs. The first thing to do is to prioritise your kids and spend quality time with them. Try to answer all their questions. I did all these things so that the void created by the absence of her mother can be compensated up to some extent. Besides, I took note of my daughter’s likes and dislikes and started taking her to short outings to spend quality time with her.”
Arijit continues: “When her mother was alive, she used to help her get ready for parties and functions. Now she has started asking me about clothes she would wear in function and all that. I am happy that she is gradually coming to terms.”
Now Arijit has developed a strong rapport with his daughter which was not the case when his wife was alive. “My daughter is pursuing journalism in Birla Global University and she is good at studying. She has become so friendly with me that she pressing for my remarriage”, says Arijit.
Even before his wife’s demise, his daughter was his priority, says Manoj Das (name changed) who works in a government department. “So I am taking care of her with the same affection, and warmth just like before”, adds Manoj, who lost his wife two years back.
Apart from being friendly with his daughter Riya, Manoj is very much particular about her education. He says, “Her education is my priority. I try my best not to involve Riya in household activities, as I want her to completely focus on studies. It is only after she settles down in life that my role as single parent will be judged by others.”
Riya, a Class XII student, on the other hand, is all praise for her dad. She says, “My dad is the strongest person I know. He takes care of all my needs like my mother. So much so, that he, like my mom, enquired about health during my periods. He does everything to bring a smile to my face. Mom was special but dad is no less.”
Rashmi Rekha Das, OP