Monday, September 22, 2008


William Shakespeare quoted "What is there in the Name" , I say a great deal here is a piece dedicated............ 

To Choton, Bulbul, Khoka, laltu, gogol, babai, buro, tutu, bubu, ghoton,bhutan, chotka, shanto, bubai, tubul .... et al. being half bengali myself and being called “Lintu” by most of my relatives I make here an attempt to alert people to a great injustice that is being perpetrated upon the sons of Bengal.So you thought they were wimpy to begin with. Far from it, my friend. Their current state is a result of years of conditioning by the oppressors - namely the women. By using a variety of psychological weapons, they have reduced these fine men to what you see today.

Today we focus on the first weapon in their hands - the nickname.

When a son is born into a Bengali household, he is gifted with a resonant, sonorous name. Bengali names are wonderful things. They convey majesty and power. A man with a name like Prasenjit, Arunabha or Sukanta is a man who will walk with his head held high, knowing that the world expects great deeds from him, which was why they bestowed the title that is his name upon him.

But it simply will not do for these men to get ahead of themselves. Their swelling confidence needs to be shattered. How can one go about it? This task is left to the mothers of these lads and is accomplished by the simple act of referring to the boy, not by his fine-sounding real name, but by a nickname which Shakti Kapoor would be ashamed to answer to. Their are some rules for creating nicknames, which need to be followed. They are -

1) Nicknames must have no connection to the real name. Arunabha cannot be called Arun. No, for that would be logical, and such things are anathema in the world of women. Instead he shall be called Bhombol. If possible, the nickname and real name must have no letters in common, but an ancient alphabet proves to be the constraining factor there.

2) Nicknames must be humiliating. If you are a tall strapping boy, with a flair for soccer, an easy charm and an endearing personality, then you shall be nicknamed - Bhondu. And every time, you have set your sights on a girl, and are on the verge of having the aforementioned lass eat out of your hand - your mother will arrive and pronounce loudly - "Bhondu, chalo". The ensuing sea of giggles will drown out whatever confidence you had earned from that last winning free-kick.

3) A nickname must refer in some way to a suitably embaressing incident in your childhood that you would give your arm and leg to forget. If it took you a little too long to shed your baby fat, then years of gymming will not rid you of the nomenclature - Motka. If your face turned crimson when you cried as a toddler, you will be called Laltu. When you turn 40, your friends' children will call you Laltu Uncle. Even age will not earn you the right to be taken seriously thereafter.

4) Different members of the family will make up different nicknames - each more embaressing than the preceding one. If one member of the family calls you Piklu, then another will call you Gonsa, and another will call you Jumbo. The humiliation multiplies.

5) You will always be introduced by your nickname until people forget you had a real name. Inspector Ranajoy might have taken on a gang of armed men single-handedly, but Toton really didn't have a chance. After a point Toton will completely take over the beaten body of Ranajoy,
weighed down by the pressure of a thousand taunts.

This strategy is surprisingly effective. Ask yourself - would you take Professor Lintu seriously? Or put much weight by the opinion of Dr. Babai? Or march into battle under the command of General Tubla?

The power of the nickname has scarred the psyche of Bengali men everywhere. It follows them like a monkey on their backs. That too, a monkey with a flair for slapstick, that was gifted to them by their own mothers.


*Aham* said...

the world is divided, and the borders are defined by the last names. So did i interpolate to the sanskritized "Aham" with no surname. Shakespere said "whats tehre in a name"... gulzaar in his tribute to the whore Mausam... said "Naam Gum Jaayega".. how i wish their verbatim was true in present times....

Theres infact a lot in a name... infact a lot in a surname.

On a jocular vein. Loved your take... I also know of some chedda called as cheddi... LOL


Aham (alias Harish)

subir said...

great to read something that has intrinsically waylaid bongs through time immemorial.

it is indeed cavalier how we bongs set out for life in an imperious manner goaded with aspirations of intellectualism, creativity etc. only wanting to disappear in the woodwork on hearing someone dear call out, "khokon kothaye?"

keep at it...cheers


Leia Skywalker said...

Lintu...a very nice piece indeed... nicknames can be fun too, didnt you ever have fun giving nicknames in college...

Prabhash said...

I think I got away with it, being called Raja, still sounds imperious, perhaps even better than my "Birth Certificate" name of Prabhash Nirbhay. One reason could be that my Bihari lineage prevailed over the Bengali one (just guessing, have done no imperical research).

But then again, it will be quite unfair to blame only the Bengali parents - I know a lot of Chotus and Bhola's and Chintu's and Babbu's and Pinku's (Sounds almost gay, poor chap.)