Every time my mother addresses me in public (especially amidst my peer group) I try to act nonchalant and at times turn a deaf ear towards her. No! I have no intentions of disrespecting her (this she knows very well). It’s just that her choice of addressing me by a name which has stuck to me through thick and thin has bothered me ever since I gained my analytical skills. As a child it seemed to be no big deal, in my teens it constantly bothered me and as an adult I have come to live with it (which doesn’t necessarily mean I love it). But the wisdom that comes with age has now shaped my perspective towards sobriquets. After much observation and equal contemplation, I have reached this conclusion that women can’t do without pet names and (most of the times) ghastly ones at that. You don’t trust me? Ponder for a while and answer the following questions.
1. Mommy dearest calls you by what name?
2. Girlfriend calls you by what name?
3. A close female friend (or a not so close one for that matter) calls you by what name?
If they call you by your first name then consider yourself lucky. And if you went through an agonizing time while answering the above questions then I empathize with you. But this may help to ebb away your aches and pains- these women in your life armed with outlandish pet names definitely love you truly, madly and deeply (cheesy much?) .
A woman’s vocabulary is much more expansive than that of a man. They have a name and a term for all; you would rarely find one run out of words to describe something or someone (in this case). Further, these descriptive names give them an overall feeling of being close to their prey (I mean their beloved). The honey, sweetie, sweetu, muffin, cutie, baby (insert your pet name) makes her your proprietor (If you don’t belong to her then what are you doing with her anyways?). The same goes for pet names coined by a proud and loving momma- Guddu, Gudda ,Dolly, Sonu, Golu, Ladoo , Laalu (all this and more just to address a grown-up version of someone from the male species).
This habit can be trailed back to the lady’s (mother’s or friend’s) girlhood days. As a girl, she would have named her dolls, bags, pencil boxes, water bottles, pets, favourite uncles and aunts and this habit has stuck to her since then. Women being women need outlets to express their affection. Sobriquets is one such outlet to express love. The cuddles and other gestures are and would never be sufficient enough. We love voicing our love for someone by way of naming them. It makes us feel secure and sure about our position in that special someone’s life.
On the other hand, our Martian counterparts stick to the last names or an abbreviation of the first name or names which denote expletives or have an underlying meaning to it. A sobriquet for them is a mean of convenience. An easy way out of the (so-called) pain of pronouncing someone’s mouthful name, for instance Mrityunjay would become Jay. Men have some not-so-creative way of naming people; here is a list of few them: Parikshit becomes Pari, Narendre becomes Naari, a fellow who likes Bhurji-Paav (bread and scrambled eggs) would be named as bhurji or paav, Rahul become Raul,short guy becomes chottu, tall guy becomes lambu, then there are the derogatory pet names which tickles their funny bones. All in all they are visually and aurally stimulated entities who name according to what they see or what they hear. Affection enters the equation of naming quite later or may never enter at all. But for women, it is affection which incites them to coin a sobriquet. Don’t trust me? Well, your mother calls you by what name when she blows her top? Honey, Soney, Muffin? Chances of her calling you by any one of these names are slim to none. She would probably call you by your full and proper name or call you names instead. The sobriquets (and the affection) just went out the window. How about your daddy (or, your friend for that matter)? I am sure you just had a moment of realization! You would still be called lambu, chottu etc. (avec abuse).
And we have reached yet another juncture which reiterates the difference between men and women as day and night. It isn’t a matter of vocabulary but is also a matter of feelings which is an un-attachable part of women’s lingua franca. The sweet, cute, aww and baby babble, however, ridiculous it may sound at times, is her way of letting you in as she lets herself out. Yes! It would surely generate a cringing reaction (ask me ‘bout it), but at the same time one must not forget the denotation of the sobriquet. If embarrassment is your constant state of affairs and ‘what would they say’ is your thought’s constant companion, then you should probably talk to her. If your stars are right then she may understand your unease and cut you some slack. Be ready to face the repercussions if she doesn’t take it the right way
P.S. I do not appreciate being addressed by sobriquets in public, so I can completely emphasize with you. Maybe I should address the next post to ladies who exploit their ‘right to express love’ in public.