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Jul 4, 2022
4 min read
A CASTLE OF FACADES - DIFFERENT PLACES, DIFFERENT NAMES / DIFFERENT FACES, DIFFERENT GAMES
Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Even before a baby is born, the first struggle is to find an appropriate name for the newborn. Earlier, in pre-internet days, the family astrologer, who also doubled as a priest, was called in.
The astrologer would make birth charts and search for the alphabet with which the newborn’s name 'should' be coined. Then a battle would begin between the paternal and the maternal families over the name of the baby.
So when I was born in the city of Nawabs and Kebabs, the priest cum astrologer went through a series of calculations and had come to a conclusion that my name should be Umesh.
Well, this was never to happen. A section of my paternal family named me Partha. The full name - Partha Sarathi Sena Sharma. Only my father’s height, my mother's colour of eyes and the home address were missing!
While I was growing up, I would spend most of my time at my neighbour’s house. Those days, many would read a Bangla comic strip called, ‘Baintul - The Great’ (বাঁটুল দি গ্রেট).
So, they would call me ‘Bitley’, The Super Hero who like a monkey was always climbing up something or hanging like Tarzan from a rope and falling flat on his nose.
The neighbourhood called me Babua. So, Babua was a straight-on street-side Romeo who loved to spend time in Adda with childhood friends. He loved to pull pranks; sometimes even at the cost of hurting someone.
Babu, as my family called me, was a very timid boy. Always scared of something or somebody. Had no confidence and would piss in his pants. He would wet his bed till Grade 6. Always a mama's boy but traumatised by his father's towering personality. Besides, all the unfullfilled dreams of the family was loaded on this kid's shoudlers. Someone wanted him to fly a Boieing across the Atlantic . Someone wanted him to be a Doctor and study medicine in London while someone else wanted him to be a Captain in the merchant navy or be a corporate laywer.
Babu wanted to go out to sea like his father and when the smart uniform with stripes. But all changed when he picked up the guitar.
A family from Bihar in the neighborhood called me Munna and some would even call me Munna Da. Munna was a badmas of sorts. A bit of a local bully.
And when I started playing the guitar, I felt my name was not happening. So I went and got some letterheads printed. It read - Dominique Sen Gupta.
My family had no clue who this Dominique was. Once, a guy came home looking for Dominique and my father stood completely perplexed trying to convince the man that there's no Dominique who lives here while the man insited that he had met Dominique a couple. Hell broke lose when I came out and this man called me, 'Nick !!!'.
Friends of my maternal cousins called me Pan Am. Since my hair was always flying in all directions. Now, this guy was pretty much a lady’s man! Always lost in his exterior self.
My maternal family calls me Bagha (Tiger). Now, this guy is extremely scared of dogs, always trying to prove a point, and scared of darkness, he would often piss from the window instead of finding his way to the loo.
Though Partha Sarathi Sena Sharma should also have my family’s erstwhile title of Rajendra, I am happy with Anupam without all the baggage.
But this Anupam Sen Gupta is a very sharp guy. He knows how to find his way in the crowd and protect himself. Often pretends to be modest, humble, insecure, simple, uninformed and even stupid.
Needless to say, this gives some a feeling of their superiority; much to Anupam Sen Gupta’s benefit. This helps Anupam Sen Gupta to constantly learn since one wouldn’t really put one’s guards up when dealing with someone he/she presumes to be naive and at times, a novice.
Time is money for him and he values time as much as he values money. You can't fool around with him.
Anupam, on the other hand, is also a hard-core family man who keeps away from social gatherings and glitter. He’s a complete homebody and loves to cook for family, friends, neighbours, and team.
Loves watching movies and often tries to write. Basically, a simple man who's bloody lazy with a bunch of questions in his head, a screen in front, and a bacon burger in hand.
During my almost one and a half years in the depths of the Himalayas, some called me Sitarawala Baba or Anu or Anu Giri. Now, this guy only and only believed in adventures. Be it relationships or cities or the Unknown. He also believed that he was carrying a piece of huge baggage from his past that he was unable to take off his shoulders. Anu Giri, at times, is extremely clairvoyant. But this is not within his control. It happens on its own.
Many a time, he's got into trouble. Looking at someone with a fixed stare while he's sensing something beyond our understanding of time, may seem like lusting. Many husbands and wives have given such dirty looks that if they could be sold, Anu Giri would have been a billionaire by now !!
Can you imagine the chaos in my mind? So many names and so many faces. Once in a while, I don’t know which to use when. Does it happen with you ?
So now I have decided to either peel every layer off or put all in a food processor and mix it well…….but the latter could end up being a disaster like now. A castle of facades.
But when you begin to peel them off, it hurts as they have become your second skin. And soon, you get tired of peeling. One after the other. Endlessly. There are even more than you thought, brother! Gradually, you begin to feel lighter.
And what is left, suddenly seems so alien. Somebody, I haven’t met in the past 4 and a half decades. He’s so different. All he wants is a home, family, security, respect, time for Philately (collecting stamps) and Numismatics (collecting coins), read a book, play the guitar and a good night’s sleep.
Slowly over time, you begin to understand this guy and you don't even know when you again have fallen in love with him.
On a parting note, do you think it's easy to strip yourself of the facades that you wear? Or you don't wear one at all ? No ? Please leave your thoughts.