Chia was playing in a park when she so happily announced “Ma, see ‘J’ is here!” I looked around, oh! A sweet puppy was there and Chia was referring to him. “How do you know that his name is J,” I asked. Chia said innocently “See his tail. It is in ‘J’ shape. So his name must be J.” I gave her in a non-convinced glance and there she explains “When we went to our great grandnani’s place they called their dog ‘U’ and I noticed his tail was in ‘U’ shape – upside down U. This dog has to be J, accordingly, as his tail is in shape of upside down J.”
I controlled my laughter and smiled back to her and said “Okay”. I saved my explanations for her after park hours. After convincing me her nomenclature, she returned to her play. Meanwhile, I thought wow! Kids learn so many things autonomously and they have their own cute interpretations for the things happening around. I felt so good about my kid’s reasoning ability. Having said this, let me share a very sweet story about how all the dogs at my grandmother’s place got a universal name ‘U’.
My grandmother belongs to a small village in Uttarakhand, a hill station. It was a time when India was under the British rule. The English chose to visit hill stations during summers to get rid of scorching Sun. They established very beautiful towns and hotels in the hill station- Ranikhet is one of such beautiful towns established by them. In these two months, they made locals to understand many of their words and gestures. These Indian villagers were poor and illiterate to understand English language- It was after the independence, English was made a subject in schools. And this language was introduced to kids in class 6th for the first time- So when these English gentlemen came to stay in the hill stations for two months or so, they needed domestic help and workers to make their life easy there. They liked to address the villagers as “You” and not by their names. And though the place was chill and calm yet it used to receive the hot waves from rest of the country about these English people and their rule. Hence, very innocently, they deciphered that these English folks are abusing them and they think of them like dogs and hence they call them “You”- may be this is what a dog is called in English language!
15 August 1947, a great day, when our country became free. Soon after that day all the villagers in whole Uttarakhand started calling dogs as “U” and I have no concrete idea about how this concept got passed on to everyone and everyone complied to it. Was this the acceptance of English language and flaunt that they know English version of a dog? They learned many English words from the rulers and these words are so well gelled into their local language that speaking a sentence without that English word is a bit difficult for even an illiterate person. These words have very well become a part of local language along with the concept of “U” word.
Chia was 4 years old when we visited my grandmother and there almost every dog is called ‘U’. The new generation people have started calling their dogs by different names yet ‘U’ remains “the old classical name” for a dog. 🙂
See you again.