There are few things that stick to a person, through his lifetime. Alright, if not through the life, certainly for that time period when you want to approach pretty things at parties with some Scotch in the hand, and make gentle conversation. Pretty Stranger things included, mind you! Asked me for an example of what these things can be? Go to the cardio section of a gym and the majority would raise tired, 5 Kg holding hands and wait patiently for their chance to answer - tyres. I may not be F1 material when it comes to that part of town, but at the prime of my adiposed past, did give a run, or a wheelie, to the Indian manufacturers.
There are few other things of higher importance that one carries around and takes for granted over a lifetime. One’s name! Wasn't very long ago, before the elders in the Chivukula family sat in a circle to zero down on a name for the second born. Ideas flew thick and fast and they say, overlapped with rounds of coffee and bhujia.
The requirements were laid out clear like extras in a Jeetendra movie from the 80s - it had to belong to the new generation, it had to be catchy, easy to say and sound like poetry. Wasn't a tough one did someone remark? Rahul, Raj and the likes would have been instant choices even in the early-80s I'm sure, assuring namesakes in a fair number of Shahrukh Khan movies too. "Yeah, my name is Rahul, you know, the same one as Shahrukh's in those movies with body-hugging T's. I could drop you home tonight. Yes, in an auto.", I could have remarked in all those parties. But no, the family was clear that it wasn't good enough to meet the requirements. The elders huddled in closer, peered through Deccan Herald, stared down the requirements once more and called for more coffee. From collective wisdom, they zeroed down on the name and it was bestowed upon me - a hapless, silent toddler, with not much of an opinion on names, Laetitia Casta or WMDs.
Chivukula Venkata Subramanya Suresh. There were no nay-sayers in the group. The arguments would have gone thus - sounds like one from the current generation - in the deepest interiors of Andhra; catchy enough that you had four to catch from; mixed with Hebrew words, would have felt like Bengali poetry. All criteria satisfied. The future owner of the name, in close proximity of the discussion, was lulled into good slumber by then and couldn't have cared better. You don't deny yourself a name only because it sounds outdated. It is, indeed a strict Andhraite tradition. A game that families with newborns play. It’s called "How many letters of the English alphabet can we cover in our baby's name". The babies always lose.
By nursery I had taken to the name with gusto. It took me that long. I was the only one who could pronounce the full name in UKG, and I'm not even discounting Miss Brown. By LKG, Vineel Kumar Reddy was a sitter for most. Even Syed Khaleelullah had been long conquered. He cried I remember! By sixth standard, the Math teacher figured out that a roll call in the start was making it difficult for him to complete the day's lesson. A good amount of time was being spent on my name, which the entire class agreed in spirit, wasn't very value-adding. Attendance was moved to the end of the period. After-class I was moved into the coir dustbin, face first, because attendance ate into the games period. A shortened version had to emerge pretty soon. 'Soon' followed the Darwinian path and out came the shortened version - Suri. Years later, Tom Cruise would come by and upset the apple cart by thinking, plagiarizing is a Scientology belief. The jerk! To date, when asked the full name, I cringe; I twist and in alphanumeric order search for alibis. Patience being a diminishing virtue, most folk stop me halfway through saying it. And to the rest, I just mention the four-lettered version.
And sometimes I wonder, Numerology applied, what would I like to change my full name to? Any thoughts?