The Fourth Nickname of My Life
It takes some people years to shake off detested childhood nicknames. My son managed to do it smoothly at the age of 3.
One look at my son’s face as an infant convinced me that he had a haughty demeanour. I therefore decided to nickname him Gatthu (Hindi:????? Kannada: ?????) which means “haughty” in Kannada. This name met with indignant protests from everyone in my family except my wife, but I persisted. “Doesn’t he look haughty? Just look at him!” I’d ask anyone who objected. No one could convincingly argue that my son does not look haughty.
So we called him “Gatthu” – at least, I did consistently. His mom used, in addition to “Gatthu”, a mishmash of endearing names many of which she’d make up on the spot, use once and never use again. We’d rarely call him Samvaadh, which is his given name.
Then my son joined playschool, where his teachers called him Samvaadh. Then, one of the two things must have happened:
- My son realized that Samvaadh was the right name for him, and that “Gatthu” was the nickname he must shake off ASAP
- My son realized that Samvaadh was his real name, and wondered who “Gatthu” was. After making a few logical leaps, he settled on the obvious answer.
So now, he is Samvaadh, my wife is Amma, and I am Gatthu.