The Sridhar family dinner involves everyone's involvement( It bewilders me how we manage to get a morsel of food inside us when all that we do is talk).So as my dad calls Mallu and Juja(snigger!!) for dinner I reason with him the way Gogol did with his dad....
Ok fine; Mallu!; I can bear with it but Juja ?How does Gautam not get embarrassed about it?
And my dad with a twinkle in his eyes lists off the numerous names that he likes to call me as- Mal,Mallak,Mallik, etc etc, and adding that I was really lucky to have so many fond names when my poor brother has only one.
To add insult to injury my mother laughs and tells me how I was going to be named Aashima( you see how much involvement the book has in my life).My uncle stopped her from doing so( she was heavily influenced by buddhism at that point of time) for he felt it rhymed with arshi mav and dosai mav (rice batter and dosa batter in tamil) and would become a topic of joke later on in life.
He saved me a great deal ,but my ordeal continues.
- I'm pelting out great numbers,the band supporting me totally rocks,the crowd is mesmerised with the music and once the curtains fall and I begin to exit the stage,I hear those familiar sounds which make me feel like crawling to the depths of the earth.The ' Mallu' rantings and cheering which form a part of my wildest dreams come true here.The same happens as soon as my theatre act gets over.
- During submissions when friends 'accidentally' address me as 'Mallu' in front of the professors who look around in a bemused fashion for the person with the funny name and the concerned has vanished out of sight.
- No wait! the name is not restricted to friends,classmates.batch mates,professors,wardens or practically the entire college. My friends' boyfriends call me as such and as for their parents, they don't even know what my real name is!
- The cute guy checking out scenario is full on and just when you feel that, well ; maybe you are getting the attention, it is busted up, as your pal shouts out 'Mallu' at the top of her lungs for the entire place to hear.The only thing that strikes you at that moment is to stare at your knees and avoid the bewildered,funny and scandalized glance of that cute guy.End of seduction one-o-one as Gogol rightly puts it.
and I am not the only one who faces this. All those who have the 'u' suffixes attached to their names- the Divu's,Nitu's,Deepu's,Neeru's,Adu's,Siddhu's etc etc. or all those who have purely laughable pet names like Ladoo( the poor guy had a smug expression whenever he was addressed as such) or Pappu( my dear cousin who always got irritated when his mother called him so. His brother got back at me by calling me Malli- Palli(lizard in tamil)) or well, Golden( yes it's hilarious for a guy.I would have cried my eyes out had it been me).A man of my grandfather's age introduced me to his middle aged son,as Duku(though his name is Ganesh).Since then I call him Duku uncle.
...and so the saga continues for many.I don't know whether they like it.I put up with it.The only fond name that I am so fond of is the one given by the person who gave me my name - my grandfather.I love it because he always calls me' Mallika' and I love it when he calls me his Chum Chum .