“Will you please hold on? I’ll ask Kaddu to speak to you,” said the sweet voice at the other end of the phone and I wondered who Kaddu was and why he or she had such a strange name.
You see, I had called up these caterers who had advertised, and I thought ‘Kaddu’ must be the chief cook. Imagine my surprise when I learnt that Kaddu was actually Kadambari, the smart enterprising lady who owned the catering joint! What a distortion of such a lovely name! This is where I’d beg to defer from old man William who dismissed the significance of names. It must be awful to go through life as ‘Kaddu’ in spite of having a poetic name like Kadambari.
Why do parents have this fetish for pet names? If they don’t have the time to call out the full name, why not choose a shorter one? There are so many tow syllable names which sound sweet and short. But parents prefer to christen their children after rivers or saints or Goddesses and then mutilate it either for convenience of love. I can’t understand why a child should be registered in school as Mrinalini and called Mirna; Mruthyunjay and called Jay; Alkananda called Aloo, and the irresistible Subhalakshmi turned into Subhi.
A title worse than shortened names is the pet name which comes out of the child’s baby talk. I used to call my niece “Princess” and she could only succeed in saying “Princu” which made us settle for Pinchu. Now she’s teenager and stuck with that name. Only her school records refer to her as Sudha!
Then there are the usual Ninku..Chinku…Pinku… etc. our neighbor has two sons, Mogi and Migi, while their cousins are A Tu, B Tu and C Tu! A distant relative of mine got her name Thamasavati from having a house near the river Thames in London. A little better is the lady who named her third child Loopavati as she was born despite her getting a loop inserted!
How often we hear of Dolly, Dotty, Sweety and Dimple. It’s an irony of fate that an impoverished guy has a name like “Sampath,” or an ugly man has to put up with a “Sundar.” Woe be to the unhappy Santosh and the shameless Lajvanthy!
The “Raj” influences still remains with the Bobby’s, Tony’s and Lilly’s floating around in “pucca” South Indian Brahmin families!
There is another kind of nick name which stems from the person’s habits or dress! I have heard of a “benne Ramaiengar,” a “Germany Kuppanna” (he being the first in the community to go to Germany), Sleeveless Subbamma (she being the first wearer of such a garment, in her town!). My brother in the engineering college, talks of the campus toughies who have odd names like “Escape Nagaraj” “Chain Ranga” and Choori Chikka”!
Still, there can be no name worse than mine. At every station raucous calls of “Chaya Chaya Chaya, Coffee, Coffee…” rent the air and I agree with the guy who said, “The name of a man is a numbing blow from which he never recovers”!(read Woman also)