Last Father’s Day, I had written a sentimental, rather meandering `letter’ to my kids under the title `Father’s Day Musings’. Of all my posts, this received the largest feedback – mostly from my friends and course mates, people like me, in the same boat, who empathized deeply. Been there, done that..
People whom I didn’t even know wrote in, one saying that it had moved him and his wife to tears as they read it together. For those who missed it, or would like to give it a re-visit (as I just did), it is available at
This post is a bit different. It’s not about kids, but about us dads, on the wrong side of sixty, old, grumpy and cantankerous. That ring a bell somewhere?
Vinita Dawra Nangia’s blog (`How Not To Become An Old Grumpy’) in last Sunday’s `Times of India’ talks of the IMS, `Irritable Male Syndrome’, that afflicts every man once he crosses 60.
Men naturally become grumpy, Vinita contends, because it’s in their DNA! Quoting the American psychotherapist Jed Diamond, she assures us that IMS is as prevalent, and actually much deadlier than the female PMS!
To me, it was a double whammy. Being a Puri, and therefore already a hopeless case of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), to now be saddled with IMS in addition was scary, to say the least.
I decided to check. Who better to ask than my first born.
“Do you think,” I asked Puja, “that I’ve become grumpy as I’ve grown older?” I emphasized the word in as nasty an intone I could manage, while trying to sound noncommittal.
“Not at all, Pa” she assured me sweetly, and before my Cheshire Cat grin could spread any wider, she added “You’ve always been grumpy!”
Vinita’s reasoning is simple. When working, men are, or think they are, in control. Once they retire into ignominy, that sense of control is lost. Ergo, they become grumpy. Bristling hedgehogs, radiating irritability and impossible to handle as they grow older!
And how do your kids deal with the new you? Not a problem in my case, as Puja so delicately brought out. Or wait - how did we deal with our fathers?
Take the case of course mate Pramod Kulkarni and his better half Ashvini. They had both their fathers living with them for, I kid you not, almost 25 years. Well past their eighties, the `oldies’ must have made the proverbial `odd couple’, and, one would have thought, driven Pramod and Ashvini up the wall! 25 years, phew!
“We played good cop, bad cop” Pramod explained. “While Ashvini pampered them, I was the strict disciplinarian!”
Both passed away in quick succession recently, and Pramod and Ashvini were devastated.
“Is there no sense of freedom, or relief?” I asked Ashvini tentatively.
“Not at all, it was so lovely!” she gushed, “It was just like raising children all over again!”
I don’t know much about paap-punya, but I’m sure Pramod and Ashvini have earned enough punya to assure them a great place in the hereafter.
Puja lives half way across the world. We miss her bubbly presence. She talks to us daily using Face Time (Thank you, Steve Jobs!). Her American friends are appalled. They barely speak to their parents, if at all.
Thank God for Indian tradition!