As I navigate through winding narrow alleys of Mehrauli, a crowded Delhi neighbourhood, stands tall my buddy’s hospital. I make my way through coughing, groaning individuals, the sight of him excites me, and I shout out- ‘Moteyyyy‘. The fatty fellow almost fell down from chair while others give me a growling look. Blasphemic!
Motey, Takley, Tingu, Lambu, Habshi…..These all had a transient existence, lost in oblivion as we grow up to claim a sense of pride and identity.
Frankly, I could not recollect his real name, as if it never existed. Well, it did in his birth certificate or Passport, but it never justified him. Only name which would pop-up in mind as soon as you see him was ‘Motey’.
That reminds me of a story my grandfather used to tell about his forgetful friend.
Once somebody asked him, “Sir! Mr. Bheem and Mr. Subodh babu have come to meet you.”
He saw an obese and a lanky fellow stepping in.
He got up and greeted the fatty fellow, “Welcome Bheem Babu”.
He responded, “Sir, I am Subodh”.
“But, don’t you think you should have been Bheem, you fatty fellow! Hahaha!”
Lanky Bheem and Fatty Subodh. Born misnomers.
One of the famous surgeon friend got offended recently when I called him ‘*atti‘, which meant ‘shit’. That’s what we always called him in hostel days I don’t remember why? I won’t tell what I was called but it must have been some genitalia-inspired nomenclature.
Girls would have similar figurative nicknames beautifully crafted by hostel hoodlums. Whatever they were, as soon as somebody spells out the name, even blind fellows could accurately imagine how they would be like. Nominal fantasies!
As my wife scrolls through my friend’s contact list, she feels as if she is reading a barrage of abuses and innovative words. Well, each ‘word’ carried a story, a myth, an anecdote. They characterise an individual to their core.
One of the easy way to do it was of course the ‘body-mapping’ and matching with closest animal. A ‘bhainsa’ actually looked like a dark wild buffalo. A ‘bakri’ , an emaciated nagging voiced one. And a ‘bull’, the hefty brainless chap.
Next step was the ‘behaviour-mapping’. A ‘rodlu’ or ’roundu’ would be ever-whining stress-stricken fellow while ‘thandu’ would be one with a cool careless attitude. ‘Fattu’ is colloquially self explanatory.
And then, a ‘moment-of-life’ which would leave a long-lasting impression. A girl who wore a ‘rose-printed’ dress once in life, pronounced ‘ Gulaabo‘ forever.
This may bite us as we step up in social ladder, and we wish to erase such bloody nicknames. But, may be on the deathbed, one would wish somebody to shout out the ‘soul-name’ – Moteyyy!!!