Estimated read time : 20 minutes
When Reyansh was born, I was spellbound. It was a truly surreal moment. I found out on Day 0 that he may have Downs Syndrome, a genetic anomaly which results in developmental delays. After finding out about his condition, my happiness of becoming a father was mixed with anxiety about his future. As he began to grow, things changed every day and I learnt that it’s all about the mindset. I’ve always been a ‘live in the now’ kind of a person and so I took everything with Reyansh as it came, step by step.
I continued to enjoy every moment with him. His little victories became great moments of celebrations for us. I’ve been his personal cheerleader and there has never been an iota of doubt in my mind that my son will achieve, flourish and live a fulfilling life. I have loved every moment spent with him, and I do believe that Reyansh has also loved it as much as I have. He is often called ‘Papa ka para’ (a fun take on Papa ki pari) because he just wants me around all the time! Whether it is a morning hug, breakfast time, lunchtime, water breaks, dinner, playtime or just about any time. If I look around, he’s there waiting to be picked up and ready to be peppered with hugs and kisses.
We share a unique calming bond with each other where our presence soothes us both. His favourite time is on my lap, and mine is when he is around me. As a father, I share all the responsibilities as a parent in taking care of him – whether it is his therapies, medical attention, personal care or just about anything. I’ve learnt from my father, how to be a father to my son, and it’s been a wholesome journey so far.
““He is often called ‘Papa ka para’ (a fun take on Papa ki pari) because he just wants me around all the time! Whether it is a morning hug, breakfast time, lunchtime, water breaks, dinner, playtime, we find ourselves in each other’s company always”- Rohit, Father of Reyansh”
My daughter Nidha is doing her master’s in media studies in NY and she has had her portion of struggle to get there. She was a school topper and chose to specialise in commerce for her graduation. Being a topper, she had disappointed my relatives by not choosing science and shattered their dreams of her becoming an Engineer or a Doctor. While the family blamed me and my wife for not guiding her in what they thought was the right direction, Nidha was clear about what she wanted, she had it all planned.
She had grown up seeing my work in the Media industry and I saw her take interest in the kind of work I do since she was in the 8th grade. She used to tag along with me on my shoot locations and soon started assisting me. Being a quick learner, from assisting me she grew up to give suggestions for the shoot. My clients loved her ideas and insisted that I make a place for her on all the events. Gradually, she started filling my place on work sites.
She has helped me direct 12 bridal shows for eminent brands in Kerala. She decided to follow her passion and showed an interest in doing her master’s in media in a college in New York. When she told me about this, I did not give it a second thought and sold my apartment to fulfil her dreams. I believe, seeing her chase her dreams was more important to me than I owning a property. It is seeing our kids pursue their dreams that give us more happiness and satisfaction in life. And let me tell you, Nidha just got her master’s degree in media studies and graduated with flying colours.
““My daughter Nidha is doing her master’s in media studies in NY and she has had her portion of struggle to get there. It is seeing our kids pursue their dreams that gives us more happiness and satisfaction in life” – Rajagopal, Father of Nidha”
On her show when Ellen Degeneres announced “Well, if you have ever wondered why Ellen hasn’t had an adorable six-year-old chef from India, then today is your day. Please welcome Kicha.”
Frozen I was sitting with my daughter Nidha in the audience and my wife was with Kicha backstage.
With all the laughs and applauds, I was in a trance, blacked out and could not concentrate on what was happening. Let’s say I was excited, happy, emotional – all at once. It was my son’s first-ever live on World’s number one show with Ellen, how could I have kept my calm. After the show, when he came backstage, I went running to him, standing speechless on my knees I hugged him. Looking at my tearful eyes he asked me “did I do good papa? why are you crying”
That day was the turning point for our family. Overnight Kicha became Little Chef Kicha. A 6-year boy went viral making India proud. I am sure reading this would have made you proud, so you can imagine my state. This happened 4 years ago but the entire event is so fresh in memory as though it happened yesterday.
Ellen’s show was just the start. My 6-year-old boy did live shows in the UK, UAE, Vietnam and took the entire family twice to the US.
When Kicha was 4, he was obsessed with a YouTube kid who used to unbox toys and review them. Every time he watched those videos, he used to come running to me asking me to take a video of him unboxing his toys. Looking at his excitement, I got him some toys and got the camera rolling. But my dear boy was more interested in playing with them than reviewing them. What surprised me was his maturity being a 4-year-old kid and accepting the fact that making such videos was not his cup of tea.
But his enthusiasm did not break there, a few days later he came running to me and asked me to record a video of him making popsicles. I could see the excitement in his eyes, and I dint want to let him down. So, being his cameraman, I went on recording the video and uploaded it on Facebook. Soon to my realisation, there were waves of comments and shares on the video. This gave him a lot more confidence and gave me the push to start his own YouTube channel. So here, a 4-year-old boy had his own cooking channel!
Kicha now has over 250 proven recipes on his YouTube channel. With a little star at home, we needed a full-time cameraman at his service. Hence, I learned how to use a camera, edit videos, some social media lessons and all that was needed to keep Kicha’s passion and his YouTube channel up and running.
Well, the Father in me had to establish some rules though!
1. Kicha would work only for 2 hours in a week
2. No one would check the views of any his videos
3. Kicha would not do any live cooking videos
4. Kicha can use knife and fire only once he is 10 years old (Now he is 10)
These rules were set loud and clear to ensure that things are running smoothly at home. I feel these rules were important considering the competition and pressure in the outside world. Kicha’s passion for cooking bagged him The Global Child Prodigy award, Indian Youth Icon award, and Pride of India award. Once, a celebrity chef pointed out how when Kicha will be interviewed at 26, he can proudly say that he is 26 with 20 years of experience and hearing that just filled my heart!
I am grateful that he is making our family proud and will make his kids proud, something that I couldn’t do! More than me being an inspiration to him, its him who stands as an inspiration to me and my family. Being a father, my support to him to follow his dreams and passion is unconditional
““Kicha is an inspiration to me and my family. Like his father, my support to him to follow his dreams and passion is unconditional” – Rajagopal, Father of Kicha”
I am a proud father of two angels who have brought so much of love, happiness, and solace into my life. During the lockdown, I have been working from home and this has given me the opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughters. Our bond has gotten stronger and so has the silly fights. I am just amazed that they keep getting angry with me and expect me to pamper them at the same time 🙂
It is heart-warming to be involved in their day to day activities. It is fun to be at home with the girls. It’s usually the other way around, they act like they are parenting me. My elder one who is 4 years old would keep a note of what I eat and when I eat and if I am taking well care of myself. If she feels I haven’t eaten enough, she would give orders to her mother to make food for me, probably that’s why they say girls are always “daddy’s princess”. Their wish is our command and we could not have asked for any better life than this. I thank my stars to have been blessed with two wonderful daughters.
““I am a proud father of two angels who have brought so much of love, happiness, and solace into my life” – Naveen, father of the Kaushik sisters”
Every father yearns for a daughter. My wife and I were blessed with a princess when Shivanya was born. Being a father, in today’s generation, I try my best to ensure that Shivanya or Kuku, as we call her at home, is free to follow her passion. I support Kuku in everything she wants to do, offering my guidance to make decisions that are the best for her. However, there is always an aspect of the discipline. She knows what to do and what to not do, and I respect that she follows these Dos and Don’ts.
Prior to Covid, when I used to come back home from the office, Kuku would wait for me at the door and wouldn’t let me in unless I hug her. Not much has changed since then, she still waits outside my room while I freshen up and gets upset when I don’t hug her. These are moments of essence that one carries in their life as a parent. The lockdown, in fact, has strengthened our bond and it makes me happy.
Kuku is always active and has been more energetic ever since the lockdown. We sit down and teach her about the precautions to take during these times, such as wearing masks. She keeps track of the news and makes sure she follows us in maintaining social distancing when we go outside.
She carries an interest in acting. To support her interest, I created a TikTok account where she could pick up expressions and dialogues expanding her learning process. I also feature in her videos, where we both do unscripted TikTok videos showcasing many scenarios along with the loving bond between a father and a daughter.
During her journey as a creator on TikTok, we have had many moments of fun together as a family. One moment that made me proud, was when we went out to celebrate 1 Million followers on TikTok. The mall, at that time, had an event being emceed by a celebrity RJ. We stood in the line to click a picture with her and amongst the crowd she recognised Kuku. We were surprised. She made a special announcement for Kuku on air and got a picture clicked with her. This moment cemented the recognition Kuku has received online.
When I reflect on her success, I feel grateful. Whatever I am, it is because of her. It’s not Kuku who is known after my name, but it is me who known as “Kuku’s father.” Nothing can make me happier than this. I am and will always support Kuku to dream big and stand by her to follow her passion.
““It’s not Kuku who is known after my name, but it is me who known as “Kuku’s father.” Nothing can make me happier than this” – Daleep, Father of Kuku”
Parenting is not based on any gender, anyone who is willing to take the responsibility can become a parent and that’s what describes my soul connection with Avnish. I met Avnish in an orphanage and instantly connected with him. He is a special child with Down’s syndrome. It’s been around 4 years ever since and I am so grateful to God that he chose me as his parent. I fought for almost 1.5 years to get Avnish’s custody. The minimum age required to adopt a child was 30 years and I was 28 then. I did my bit of running around, I did all I could but never gave up. The govt soon changed the minimum age to 25 for a single parent to adopt a child and that’s when Avnish came home.
Everyone is a special child in some form of the other, no one is perfect. Every human has different needs. Avnish taught me how to be different and help other parents to accept their special child. My son’s identity is his name and not that he is a special child.
Avnish is the one who is leading my life, teaching me to look at things from a different perspective, guiding me on how to be a good parent and ace at single parenting. Lockdown has given us an opportunity to spend more quality time with each other. He understands why he is not able to step out of home these days, he understands the concept of social distancing and the importance of taking precautions during the current pandemic. Though it’s been 3 months since we stepped out, he has been really cooperative and supportive about this.
Once the lockdown is over, we would plan our travel very soon. We love travelling. In the last 4 years, we have covered over 22 states and 50 cities in India to organise and participate in different workshops and conferences. In the last 4 years, we have given around 400+ motivational talks in collaboration with different companies, NGO’s, and parent communities. Avnish holds a world record at the age of 2. He is a TED Talk speaker and has been invited to 2 TED talks already. I hold a world record of youngest single parent-child who has adopted a child with down syndrome at the age of 28. He is just 6 and he has already achieved so much. He is the motivation in my life. He is guiding me with parenting, and we are helping thousands of other parents who are blessed with special children. On International Woman’s Day. I received the “World’s Best Mother” tag and it’s only and only because of him. I was invited to the UN, and the World Economic Forum and our name have been mentioned in Indian book for records as well.
Whatever I am, I am because of Avnish. He is the reason we have successfully come this far. The bond we share is beyond imagination for anyone. He has faced many challenges and has no regrets, no complaints and no questions about his life. He is an inspiration and we have a lot to learn from him.
I believe every child deserves a family. The presence of a special child is always ignored in society as it demands a lot of courage and patience. There are fewer facilities for a special child in our country from basic needs to right to education and even employment. It’s not easy to get admission for a special child in a school. Acceptance of a special child is very less in our society.
Nobody talks about the Fatherhood, its devalued. The society is still stereotyped giving the dominance of parenting to mothers. I was warned by a lot that I will not be able to bring up a child all on my own and that it’s a job for a “woman”. As I said, parenting is not based on any gender. The first word that Avnish spoke was “papa” and I did not teach him that. I try my best to keep him engaged in different activities. We have started homeschooling for him and are taking one step at a time at achieving to make him learn new skills. He is learning how to form sentences, have clear speech, exploring ways to use new words, working on a physical and mental exercise, and playing many more mind games.
There are no rules; I learn from him; he learns from me and that’s how we rock and roll.
““In the last 4 years we have travelled to over 50 cities in India for events and given over 400+ motivational talks. Avnish holds a world record at the age of 2 and is a TED Talk speaker””