Of names and nicknames | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Of names and nicknames

chandigarh Updated: Dec 05, 2014 12:47 IST
Amarjit Singh Hayer
Chandigarh

A person's name given at birth holds great importance in life. Wise parents choose a meaningful name keeping in mind their expectations from their child.

Guru Gobind Singh's choice shows that he wanted his sons to be warriors, so he named them Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh.

Some persons are named after a month, a year or the place of their birth. One of my students was Basakhi Ram. His father was Phagan Mal. A friend is Kabul Singh, another Paharra Singh. One of my professors, born at Multan, is Multani Chand. A niece is Gursawan Bawan Kaur. She was born in the month of Sawan of the Vikrami Samat and in 1952 as per the Gregorian calendar. A student of mine Maghar Singh was the son of Chet Singh.

Army personnel are fond of naming their sons Kaptan Singh, Karnail Singh or Jarnail Singh, while the religious-minded name their sons Gurbachan Singh, Gurbhajan Singh and Gurmukh Singh.

Some people's names, however, do not match their personalities. For instance, one of my students, Sharmeeli, was a non-stop talker who prattled unabashedly. I knew a Resham Singh who was rough like a rock. The ugliest boy in our class was Roop Chand and the darkest Angrez Singh. No wonder they were the laughing stock of the class. As adults, to avoid embarrassment, some of them change their names. A classmate Har Kaur Singh became Kulwant Singh. My student Faquir Singh became Dhanwant Singh. I don't know if the change made him rich but it sure did bring him relief for being always laughed at.

Awkward names can be changed but embarrassing nicknames often stick for life because they are given by others matching some of the visible traits of a person. School kids are adept at giving apt nicknames to their teachers. Our math teacher was blind of an eye and took pleasure in twisting the ears of pupils who failed to solve sums. They retaliated by naming him 'Kana'.

Villagers too display great skill in giving suitable nicknames. The quarrelsome guy in our village was nicknamed 'Bherru' because he was ever ready for a combat. Another who always took the contrary stand was called 'Lee Bhan'. When in 1984, I took my Maruti car for the first time to my village, a cousin remarked, "Bhai daddu car vich jhoota tan diwadey". How could I refuse his request for a joy ride when he had given such an apt name to my car? Interestingly, village nicknames have animal origin.

Come to think of it, the name represents a person's identity but a nickname reflects his personality.