lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ah, my precious!

Said Jerome K. Jerome to Ford Madox Ford,
'There's something, old boy, that I've always abhorred:
When people address me and call me "Jerome",
Are they being standoffish, or too much at home?'
Said Ford, 'I agree;
It's the same with me.'

'Mutual Problem', William Cole

I grew up in a family where there was a lot of laughter, banter and badinage, but no displays of affection or endearments of any kind. We all heaped 'banda muddu', rough and rowdy loving on babies in the family, but the older children and adults refrained from any display of affection. We shortened names, and were Vaas, Kavi, Lali and Tivi in address, but that was about it. My father's occasional pet names for us were longer than any given name ought to be. Lalita Lavanga Latika, anybody? Or how does Kavita Karpoora Manjari grab you?

It is strange then, that after leaving the bosom of my family, I took to spontaneous gestures of affection and using endearments. Is it that my family's reticence about display of affection had trained me to be reticent too, and moving away from its influence allowed me to express affection in ways that I wouldn't have before?

Perhaps this developed because I left home and became part of a couple. Perhaps this using of endearments to people evolved as I learnt the preciousness and the unpredictable nature of life, and felt the need to be demonstrative.

I use a lot of pet names and endearments now. Anybody I am fond of tends to get addressed with an endearment. It could be a simple 'dear' instead of the name or a slightly more intimate 'darling'. It could be a particular pet name for the specific person, or a generic 'sweetie' or 'love'.

I say 'chellam'. I say 'bangaaram'. I say 'angel'. I say 'darling' and 'dahling'. I say 'sweetheart' and 'sweetie-pie' and 'honey-bunch' and worse.

Male bonding methods bemuse me. I notice that my husband and his friends trade insults when they meet. When I meet my women friends, it is all hugs and kisses and 'darling, how are you?' and then some. Are women more comfortable with displays of affection?

My husband has a couple of friends he has known for fifty years and more. They are still going strong, and every time they meet they seem to begin where they left off. Trading insults is how they bond. When I am talking to a woman friend, very likely we'd call each other angel, sweetheart, darling and more. Men need insults, and women need endearments, it seems.

And sets of friends tend to give each other pet names. Sometimes, the very endearment becomes the address to a particular person. Priya and I are 'babe' to each other, Rimi is Rimikins for Priya and me. Even Rimi's cheeky 'Auntie Lali' is more an endearment than polite address to an older friend. My husband is always 'honey', after all.

There is a strange thing, though. I use pet names and endearments now, but not towards members of my birth family. There are no endearments there. And the other thing I notice is that I address women of my own age and younger friends with endearments; younger male friends too get their share of sweeties and dears. But friends older than me, however fond of them I am, are just addressed by the name. The influence of my early family life, perhaps.

But there is one person I cherish and love greatly, whom I call only by name. He has forbidden me to use any terms of endearment towards him, ever. I've been given a perfectly decent name and that is enough, he says. It is my son.



Blogger Priya said...

Awww, thanks Babe;) I must admit though, I have the strangest terms of endearment for my bestest & closest school and college friends. They are necessarily the worst vernacular insults and I shall refrain from disclosing them here. You can ask Urmi, if you are very curious, Babe;) And, no I don't indulge in pet names or endearments unless I bond with the person.
Guess what? I'm living on lavanga latikas (sweets from Delhi's trademark Annapurna Sweet shop in CR park) these days..yuummmm :D

3:12 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- You and me both, babe. All terms of endearments are for people I have bonded with, only. And there are sweets called lavanga latikas? The mind boggles, darling.

3:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darling, sweetheart, honey, angel! Please don't ignore me.

Secret admirer

4:05 pm  
Anonymous Ph said...

Ah sons. Mine is 6 and still indulgent. Though I am sure he will object to 'pudding' later.

7:45 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Oi Lali, can I call you Auntie Lali, too? As an endearment?

8:12 pm  
Anonymous Hehhh said...

Kalyanaraamuniki Kaushalya Laali
Yaduvansha vibhuniki Yashoda Laali ....

wonly the amman for us though.

9:56 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- LOL, but get a name.

Ph- Ah, yes. The times I used to croon 'Mera son, mera son, mera son, take your medicine, medicine, medicine' and call him 'Baba', 'Babajee' and 'Batkhande' and more. But 'pudding'? Have a heart and change endearments right away, please. :-)

Rajesh- Child, Raymond West you are not. Stop being impudent, impertinent and worse.

Hehhh- Knock, knock. Who is there? Lalli Amman. Lali Amman who? Lali am an idiot wonly, no?

10:18 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

How're you doing this evening, Mummy? ;-)

Put that broom down, Lali. You're not going to hit the Fairy now, are you? :D

11:17 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rimi- Don't tempt me, Princess. You are sorely in need of a spanking, I swear.

9:48 am  

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