My father used to say that he gave two/three syllable names to his four children so that they would not be shortened by nicknames. His own was a four syllable one and he was called all kinds of things because of that. Our friends however were too lazy even for the short given names and much to the annoyance of our father, all of us ended up with nicknames. Mine were the most galling for him as the shortened names were indicative of a sot. Rum, Rummy, Rummu, in his book were all for skid row cases. Much later in his life he realised that I was not a skid row case and was unlikely ever to become one either. By that time, many of my friends were personae non gratae in his book. Still later in his life he discovered that they were useful people to know as he found them to be very helpful thanks to their closeness to me.
What he did not know and I think does not know even now is that we had our own nick name for him – Tiger.
Be that as it may, I find that Nick names make life easier in our society where we tend to have long first names often tongue twisters. For instance my late wife’s given name was Urmeela and she was known from childhood as Tutu. Her sister who was Promeela was Tunu and her three brothers were Tullu, Jukki and Jitu for Upender, Surendar and Jitendar respectively. Here there was another force at work, which is the Bengali ritual of giving nick names at child birth itself. Here is an interesting take on that from a Bengali.
My late wife first called me Jaan. This is Urdu for Life. A very endearing nickname among Hyderabadis. Something like husbands and wives in the West calling each other Dear/Darling. When my father first heard her calling me that, he quietly went to my mother to ask if I had converted to Christianity, as he thought that I was being called John. Urmeela’s family were all third and fourth generation Christians though she and her siblings were all non practicing ones. Towards the end of her life, everyone had become Darling as her dementia made it impossible for her to remember names.
My son has a nickname for me which is unique – Pappadups. Quite how he came to give that to me is not clear to him now. In turn we had many nicknames for him like Chickoo, Bantu, but finally it settled down to Baba. Baba is the male equivalent of Baby made popular by ayahs of colonial India.
My irrepressible nephew Jai first gave me a nick name Bamba. This was derived from the letters that my father used to write to me addressing me by my name and ending it with BA., MBA. The two degrees that I had acquired by the time that Jai was born. He subsequently decided that it was inappropriate as I was neither a bachelor nor a master, and now calls me Swami Ramanamamanandaji. No doubt under the impression that I am qualified to be one of the fake Swamis that abound in our glorious country. The mama in the middle of that tongue twister specifies my relationship to him as his mother’s brother.
My readers know that my beloved sister Padmum is also an LBC blogger. If I let out the nickname that I use for her, she will catch the first flight out to come at me with a double barrel gun. I leave it to her to decide if she wants to share it with all the LBC readers.
Another LBC blogger Marie got loaded with a fantastic nickname which has now become her registered trademark – Grannymar. I understand that she got hoisted with that one when in her childhood! Conrad another LBC blogger got the obvious Conman as his nickname. LBC blogger Chuck is aka Shackman. Quite how he acquired that must be worth a novel, unless he specialised in shacking up with assorted ladies. May be he will elaborate. Another nickname familiar to my readers will be Mayo. Now I can write a book about that man, but shall save it for another day. Suffice it to say that what will life be without mayonnaise?
I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where thirteen of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Paul (BWT). The twelve other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Anu, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!