Ours is the second-most populous nation on this planet. Soon enough, we would be topping the list too. Yes, there might be more than a hundred crore human beings living it out within these 29 states and 7 union territories, and yet each single one of us has a secret desire to be unique in some way possible.
Most of us aspire to have at least one particular trait in ourselves that distinguishes us from the others.
“Human minds are like grains of rice. From a distance, they all look alike but closer inspection tells us that each one is distinct.” That might be an old adage, but it holds true, and not just in the case of our minds alone.
The “Uniquifying” process starts with the name. Right from the moment a new life joins us, the parents and close kin come out with a list of names suitable for the baby. Without saying, the onus is on finding a new, unheard name. Our celebrities, who often have a demigod status in our lives, seem to be following these trends too. Come on, names like Aaradhya, AbRam with a capital R, and Aarav are not that common, are they?
If you watch closely, you would realize that most toddlers have names starting with ‘A’. Well, A would ensure that my child would come among the first in the class rolling system, which means that my child would need not wait for hours to get his notes corrected, fees collected and the like. Trust me, I have experienced the bitter side of being at the other side of the rolling system; that has some positives too. For instance, some teachers ask questions in the order of roll numbers.
Anyway, we may have succeeded in giving our kids unique names, but are we able to maintain that uniqueness in our lives? Turn on your self-analysis mode as here we go:
I mentioned the roll-call system of our schools, didn’t I? In my class, with forty students, my roll number was usually in the 35-40 range. Since I cleverly named my daughter ‘A-something’, her roll number maybe among the top 5 or 10 in the class. In any case, students are more likely to be addressed by their numbers rather than their names. I know it is not practical for the staff to remember each and every name. Numbers are easier.
And hey, they are unique, too. Two kids may have the same name, but never the same roll number.
Okay, let’s grow out of the student scenario. Now that I have sent my kid to school, let me go and consult my doctor. The persistent cough is really pestering me. Since I had made an appointment already, the receptionist gave me a token number so that I could meet my doctor when my number gets called. The good thing about token numbers is that, unlike roll numbers, they are not issued based on your name. It is more of a first-come-first-serve procedure. I sat there and waited until I heard my number being called out through the speaker.
Later that evening, I went to school to pick up my daughter. Apparently, she had made some friends as well. And on seeing me, my little darling came rushing to me, followed by her friends. And they all addressed me as uncle, while telling me tales about her. Technically, I was not their uncle. Still, I was called that.
As I think of it, I remember that the young boy at the hospital had also called me uncle. Nobody wanted to know my name. ‘Uncle’ seemed perfect for them.
Please put your seat belts on. We are fast-forwarding a bit. Today my young, fun-loving daughter is getting married. It’s amazing how fast time flies. I still remember how I used to carry her on my shoulders but today, she is one beautiful bride. There is a reasonably large canvas on the stage with my daughter and her partner’s names on it, but the guests simply do not seem to care for that. Instead, they have been rushing to meet the ‘bride’ and the ‘groom’.
“Isn't the bride ready?”
“Aww…the bride looks real charming.”
I wanted to tell them that my daughter has a good name, but decided against it.
***Cuff…Cuff…sorry, the coughs have not really left me to peace, after all.
Today is a special day in my life. For, in all probability it is my last day here. The long fights between me and the dry coughs were coming to a truce, and I had decided to give it in. There I lay, on a hospital bed, and surrounded by my family and friends. They all seemed pretty sad.
My daughter was crying. I wanted to hold her hand and tell her that I am all right, but my actions had gone unnoticeable for the living. I lay there, observing.
People came and people went.
People whom I knew, people whom I liked. This was quite a depressing situation. The religious head of our locality came and whispered in my son-in-law’s ears:
“When do we cremate the body?”