Pet peeves

Why endearing nicknames can bring your world tumbling down

snow man

Give me moniker, yes. I am so glad I don't have a pet name, home-name, or [k]nickname. Is this an issue, even if it is, you ask. Well, yes.

My aunt and uncle lovingly nicknamed their much-awaited first-born, "Gappu." Gappu literally means fat/cute/cuddly. Sadly, our Gappu did not and still does not fit the adjective. All of 18 years old now, a lanky and very good-looking lad, Gappu cowers with terror and humiliation each time someone, he wishes he never knew, calls him by his ghastly "kick-name" in public - more so, when there's a pretty girl around.

Spare a thought

These are times I am thrilled - tra, la, la! - to be spared the torture of having a "pet" name. But, I wasn't always Mayuri. No Sir! I was called "Baby" [cringing with shame here] when I was tiny!

My formative years were spent in the innocent assumption that my "real" name was actually "Baby." In fact, I wrote my name as "Baby Sharrma" everywhere. When I was old enough - eight, if this interests you - to realise that the "Baby," in question, was yours truly, I made up my mind and took a brave stand and just refused to respond to it. They could "Baby" me from here to eternity, but I plainly refused to answer!

Nicknames, as forms of endearments, can cause some serious damage as you grow up.

Imagine this gorgeous six-footer with an amazing physique and a great smile walking towards you. You hold your breath, thank your lucky stars, and wonder what you did right when suddenly someone calls out to him "Bholu/Pappu/Chintu!"

Clink.Shatter.Crash.

Your dreams disappear in a flash, and you begin to wonder if he is really that hot, or isn't!

You may traverse the seven seas, cross continents and negotiate deserts and mountains, anything to distance yourself from your nickname. But, your nickname will never leave you. This is the worst, or best, part.

Gape, there's no escape

You have flown double-digit hours, or are at the other end of the time zone among colleagues called Gottfried and Krisoijn, gleefully devouring your Poffertjes, ecstatic in the knowledge that you've left your deep, dark secret far behind, when you open your mailbox to find - or, if it's your lucky day, many - E-mails from back home saying "We miss you/take care/eat on time Dolly/Bintu/Dumpty." And, suddenly the world is, again, a very tiny place, and there is just no escape.

You have just wrapped a multi-million pound deal and are feeling invincible, accepting much hand-pumping and rightfully-deserved accolades, smiling smugly at your weighty name being splashed and flashed all over the media when your mum calls up to congratulate - "Simpu/Monu/Dholu" on loudspeaker in full view of your colleagues. Suddenly, victory does not seem so sweet anymore.

Nicknames are forms of endearments, special to each household. The pet names don't have to make sense and are more often than not sources of amusement to outsiders. But, they are very special in the warm circle of love the family has built around the child.

However, when I hear a crazy nick, and see the person cringing in shame, I sit back, smile and smugly say to myself: "You've come a long way... Baby!"

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

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