Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nomenclature


The man who worked in the army invited me for his kid’s naming ceremony. Naming is carried out with special rituals in the presence of a priest at a temple or holy place. Nowadays, in Kerala, this ritual is not observed just among Hindus but to have their children named in the presence of a gathering Christians and Muslims too considerable effort. I was invited to one such occasion. As the man who worked in the army was a Hindu, I was supposed to be in the village temple on that momentous day, when the child would get a name chosen by his or her parents, but announced in public by the priest.

That made me do something different that is usually required in my work as a lecturer in the University I work at, thinking. To put it straight, I was a bit happy and amazed of myself to be able to use once again this faculty, which was capable of inducing fantastic results in my consciousness. In the university I work at the best way to stick with the job is to pretend that one’s sensibility has been lost entirely or partially and keep one laughing at those ridicules jokes that both the students and the staff celebrate around, every day. Forget about terms such as Learning, Education, or Wisdom. Follow the syllabus, or course plan. Stick to it and you can survive, otherwise a group of block heads would be seen as knocking the door of the Head of the department to complain about your class for being too out of focus or too widened that they could not understand anything you say. It is no surprise that you would scratch your head and ask, “What is the problem; is it a primary school to be so diluted with things?”

“What is the problem?” you would ask. By hugging a reason for any specific problem we are naming it, actually. You don’t have the convenience of a clergy or a priest naming the problem in public. You are alone beside yourself. And you have to find out what is going on. The reason you search for the glitch is nothing else but just a name. Lack of focus, extreme widening of the areas of discussion, unusual methods in teaching (as a usual way to mark innovative teaching techniques), and so on goes the list of reasons. You know these areas in your class already and many of these ‘problems’ might have intruded your classes purposefully as a method you might have thought would bring you fame and satisfaction as a teacher. But you fail to bring the required results and these techniques become ‘Problems’. You react furiously, and they would call you indignant. You name them useless blockheads, they name you arrogant. It’s hard to find any other activities other than naming happening in Indian universities visibly.

The man who worked in the army had a strange habit too. He used to name every thing in his life, living and non-living. He named his cell phone Komal, meaning soft. His pen was named pinky, since it has pink colour. And so on. Once he even named his wife, and the reason he said was curious, he said he had difficulty in remembering his wife’s original name. So in order to avoid a family battle, he decided to choose a name from his own box of choices. And this process was repeated each month and sometimes each week. His wife too was aware of his brain’s inability to hold certain things tight, but she never said anything in return. Once he named her Pearl, suggestive of the shape of her face, round and fair as if a huge pearl stick to the body. The wife smiled after listening to this new name. That was not usual of her. On other occasions she would become resentful and keep silence for some hours. But this time she was seen very happy. He asked why she is smiling. She said; “Thank god, my husband remembered my real name after so many years!!”            
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