Thursday, September 8, 2011

Neighbours, not mine. Name, not my name


Neighbours, not mine. 


"Simi Ji! Simi Ji!" A little girl living in that house would sometimes call out loud at odd hours. I never knew the caller by face. I could only hear a voice coming somewhere deep from the inside of that Muslim house and then I would hear the laughter. My mother would run to the window with a false start and then half-way, catching onto the prank, she would curse, "Trath Temis". If it wasn't enough that she had neighbours who would clear-out their spittoons and night soil into her courtyard, now she had to deal this bratty child's game. Sometimes I would run to the window to catch the little jester. But I never saw anyone. Our game would continue.

My Nani had a strange habit. She would visit her daughter's place but would try to keep her visits reticent. She wouldn't knock on the door or ring a bell. She wouldn't walk into the house and simply meet her daughter. No, for my Nani, these visits were part of a ritual of checking up on her daughter's married life. As part of this ritual her would stand under the second-floor window of our house and call out my name, my Other name. On hearing my Other name, mother would look out from the window and find my Nani with maybe a bag of fruits, baker's bread or something such. Moments later, she would run down and standing below that window, a bit embarrassed, she would ask her mother to be more proper and not create such scenes. But only weeks later my Nani would again be under the window calling, 'Simi Ji! Simi Ji!'

My Nani wanted that I be named Sameer. Naturally, the nick name would have been symphonic and girly Simi. But then I was born on a wrong day. An elder Bhabhi of my Dadi vetoed that for someone born on such a great day, Vinayak Tchorum, and that too a Sunday, only Vinayak would be a proper name. Simi would have been lost like Sameer but for my Nani and the unseen neighbour girl, the two custodians of my other name.

-0-

4 comments:

  1. I think it is your birthday today...if so...many many happy returns of the day...

    ReplyDelete
  2. It is. Venayakchoram. My Koshur Birthday. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's on 29th this year. But, thanks for the wishes.

      Delete

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