— Did I keep you waiting for long?
— No, not much. We too came just a while ago.
— No, not yet. We were waiting for you to come. What would you like to have? Tea, coffee, cold drink?
— Any special one? Special, less sugar, more sugar, black tea, ginger tea, lemon tea…
— Stop stop. Nothing of that sort. Just ordinary, plain tea.
— Anything with it? Samosa, pakoda…
— Stop it man! Just go and order whatever you want to eat. I would take only tea.
— OK fine. As you wish. Chhotoo!
— Is that his name?
— No, just like that.
— How could I know?
— Did you ask?
— Who cares!
How many people take for granted the name of the person who comes to clean their offices, or the postman, the milkman, tea man, canteen fellow, shopkeeper. Have you yourself ever been curious? It is strange that people hardwire to their brains the names of all cricketers, footballers — not from their own country but also from others, of movie stars — people whom one never meets, has no chance of meeting either, and it does not make any difference if one meets or not. But one doesn’t show the same enthusiasm to discover or simply query the name of the person whom one meets every day — on a routine basis. Simply because they are not important? But aren’t they?
It is not the same as the innumerable ways people call their little ones — king, queen, prince, princess, angel, fairy, pearl, diamond, bird. Also not the same as the nickname they put for them, sometimes a shortened form of their formal names, sometimes an entirely different name; or the ones that their classmates and friends choose for them — naughty, diminutive, stupid, and affectionate. But here, there is neither any affection, nor a circumvention for comparatively longer and complicated names. Here, it is complete apathy, lack of concern for the people whom one considers ‘less important’, their identity, in fact their existence in our world. It would not be practical to keep querying the names and remembering all of them of all the people one encounters in the journey through life — people whom one meets in buses, trains, trips, other places and cities. Instead, we are talking here about the people one meets daily, on a routine basis, who mean so much for our comfort, if not for survival, yet are taken for granted.
Then there are so many of us who can’t even take the smallest trouble to spell correctly (in writing) others’ names. Isn’t it simply an utter contempt and disregard towards the other person? All our big words of admiration and respect do not sound honest then. It hardly takes less than a minute to carefully observe the person’s name in its correct form and to commit it to memory. Even for few complicated words, especially from other cultures, one can invent formulae and mnemonics (without telling the person, of course).
Surely it all depends on whether and how much respect one wants to give the other person. If the answer is in negative, then what is the point in starting with the communication and connection at all? Let us not forget that the sweetest sounding words for any individual from any country and culture, speaking any language, is not the name of God — but one’s own name.
Now, here is something to cheer you up:
— Such a sweet child! What is your name, little one?
— No, no, not that. The school name.
— Bal Bharti Public School.