My name, as my parents gave me, is Ramu Das. There are some problems with this name, which my parents never fathomed, but having lived with this name for so many years, I have experienced first-hand the ridicule because of it.
In the old Hindi movies, and in some books, the name Ramu often appears. Along with that name, another word called Kaka is added. “Ramu Kaka” in the Indian context is understood to mean a loyal and humble servant (often old), always at the beck and call of the owner. In the past, my cousins took great delight in calling me Ramu Kaka and ordering, “bring some jelebis?” (Jelebi is a circular sweet snack people relish in India). They also took great delight in watching me fuming at the mouth. When I was composed again, I would counter by thanking them for the honorific title of kaka, meaning uncle, which makes me their father’s equal.
If the first name was to do me a great disservice, the last name was equally liable. The title ‘Das’ is short for ‘Dasa’, which again means a servant, but it does not mean the servant of any human but of god. The surname Das is very common and can be found among the Bengalis, Oriyas, Assamese, Punjabis, and, which surprised me, among the people of Uttarakhand. When I pronounce my title, people from those communities often think I belong to them and appear to be more sympathetic towards me. When they get to know that I am a Bengali, I attract, naturally, more interest from the Bengalis. Nevertheless, the similarity of the surname goes into forming a better rapport with people from the others communities as well.
Ramu is one of the names of the Hindu Lord Vishnu who preserves and protects the universe. Ramu means someone who can be counted on in troubled times. The surname Das can mean someone who devotes. Therefore, as a whole, Ramu Das can mean someone who is devoted to the good of the world. That’s what my parents actually intended my name to mean.
I spent my childhood and adolescence in the beautiful North-Eastern state of India called Nagaland where I completed my schooling. My ancestors hail from the Sylhet district of Bengal (undivided India). During the partition of India, some parts of the Sylhet Division were passed on to what we presently know as Bangladesh. The other part, the Barak Valley of present Assam, remained in India, and of that I am a native.
After my schooling, I came to Mumbai in 2009 and worked for a year to accumulate the amount required for my higher studies. I completed my bachelor’s degree, but had the urge to learn more, so completed a Master’s degree and some more post-graduate courses in fields like literature, writing, and human rights.
I wonder if life is a big joke because no matter how hard I try, I don’t get it. Sometimes that makes me wonder: who am I? Where am I going? What is the purpose of my life? And so many other philosophical questions occupy my mind. Surely, I’ll try to comprehend all these questions and find the real meaning of life. I swear I’ll do it before I die!
I speak little and think more than I should (but when I get very close to someone, I can speak and think like no one ever has done before, and maybe bore the person to death). I won’t say I am anti-social, but in public places I try to speak as little as possible because I fear my words might go over people’s heads and they might call me a fool; you know when people cannot understand something you say or do; they criticize you (and call you a fool).
I try to be funny for the sake of laughter. I think I have a great sense of humor and I enjoy the company of those who have a sense of humor.
I strive to bring a little smile to people’s faces, provided they don’t intend to cause any injury or harm anyone by any means. I can lay down my life for you, but wait, if you turn on me, my friend, it’s over. Criticise me wherever necessary, but go a little easy on me… for I’m somewhat emotional. I mean what I say and I expect my friends (people) to do the same, and sometimes I don’t mean what I say and I still expect my friends to understand me. I’m definitely not a man of great stature, — even if I were, I won’t say it, or try to prove it — but I’m always ready to lend a helping hand as long as I can. If, however, my selfless endeavour cannot be appreciated, it shouldn’t be demeaned either.
I am an avid reader, but I wasn’t so some years ago, especially during my childhood. However, after knowing that all a person can learn from, other than his experiences, can be found in the books, and since then I read–or at least try to read–every day. I’ve started reading the works of some of the greatest writers of all times, and among my favourites are Thomas Hardy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Daniel Defoe, E.M. Forster, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, R.K. Narayan, V.S. Naipaul, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Khushwant Singh and some more authors whose name I don’t remember (I’m bad at recalling names). I like the works of some new writers as well, but more often than not I look for those writers’ work which have been shortlisted for prizes such as the Booker Prize, Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize in literature, or Sahitya Akademi Award, and such other reputed prizes.
I love animals because my feelings are akin to the following words of of A. D. Williams: “When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.”
I had a pet dog called Tiger, and a cat called Mini. I can tell you one thing for sure: people could betray me, but Tiger and Mini never knew how to do so. They remained loyal in happy and hard times. Both died of old age.
Music peps up my mood. Country music is my favourite. I often tune in to old as well as new Hindi and English songs.
I like watching the good movies more than once, and from the bad movies I always learn something, that is, never to watch such movies again.
That’s more or less about me. Thank you for reading; you’ve done a terrific job. If you ever feel like getting in-touch with me, you can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.