I suggested that my little relative should be named ‘Bull’! And that is because he roared like a bull (a baby bull) whenever it was past his meal-time. When would that be? Not every 4 hours, as recommended by those professionals who claim to know about every baby’s digestive demands. This little fellow could claim to be starving, even an hour after being fed.
I also suggested a middle name for him. It was ‘Pisser.’ How so? On the first occasion that he sprayed his mother while his nappy was being changed, his mum yelped. That brought a smile from the baby. He must have remembered being spoken to with loving words on that occasion. The consequence? There was a great risk of being sprayed, with an accompanying happy smile, whenever his nappy was being changed. He was obviously a quick learner.
His mum thought me rude, suggesting that I was displaying disrespect to her family. I pointed out that I was family too. Anyway, her husband and I may have performed in much the same way once upon a time.
Instead ‘Bull Pisser’ was given a typically Hindu name. It was made up of 3 parts, each of which signified its specific religious connotation. It was also a personal, very individual name. In our culture, there were no surnames. But no matter where you were on the globe at any time, to a fellow countryman, all that you have to do is to identify the village your family came from, together with the name of your father or grandfather, and your tribal relationships would be laid out before you.
Inevitably, the boy acquired a simpler, shortened name, applied by his age-cohort in a multi-ethnic community. To the elders in his extended family, he was uniformly Thamby (as in thumb), equivalent to son. Subsequently, he became Elder Brother, even to his younger cousins.
The influence of culture can indeed offer personal respect.