My name, was supposed to be or rather, is ‘Chembrakalathil Krishna Kumar’. The Chembrakalathil comes from amma’s tharavad name, ‘Chembrakalam’, in Kullapulli, near Shoranur, Kerala. So my name would mean, i am Krishna Kumar, from the house of Chembrakalam. Like most, if not all, malayalee nair families, we too followed the marumakkathayam tradition. This was not about family wealth or style of family living, just stayed with the concept of whose lastname to accept. To me this concept of naming (lastname) sounded, better than most system in the world, simply because ‘motherhood is a fact, and fatherhood is matter of faith’.
They year i was enrolled in school, there was another kid with a similar name, C.K. Krishna Kumar. So to avoid confusion, my father changed my name to ‘C.K. Kumar’, relegating the Krishna to another initial in my name.
Now, Kumar is a very common name in India. Kumar simply means ‘son’. So, Krishna Kumar, would actually mean Krishna’s son. Of course, thanks to the English, most indian names were bastardized so much, that it was ok, to simply name me ‘Kumar’. My class mates, as is common everywhere, quickly started calling people by their first names, so Harish Bashkar became Harish, Ram Kumar became Ram, CK Krishna Kumar became Krishna, and i became CK, because simply Kumar was not an unique enough name to call.
I studied in the same school for another five years, and then had to move schools, to start my 6th std, because Bains only allowed buys until the 5th std. The first day at the new school, i am in a new class, people i have never seen before. Not a single soul i recognize. When the school bell rang indicating interval, i was releaved to come out. Surprise, surprise. There were a bunch of my classmates from my old school, all of them in a different section. But very quickly their presence made me more comfortable, and soon my old name is spread around and i get to be known as CK again.
I had at different moments in my life, wanted to change my name, to something more cool. Govind was a good one and so was Sunil. Because, Amma had mentioned that Sunil was a name that was considered, but dropped. There were other names, i am sure, but i dont remember them now. I think Ram, was one among them. Vijay because Amitabh Bachchan used this name commonly in his movies. This continued till i finised my schooling. Whenever i met a cool dude, or got a new name i liked from a movie i saw, i wanted that name. My name CK, it appeared wasnt good enough for me. The name used at home was something completely different, so this was issue of name was restricted to circle of friends and school.
When i finally quit school to join college, i had a few school friends accompany me, and helped others to associate me with ‘CK’. And my college mates and more school mates were with me in my professional courses that i used to take on the side. By the time, i finished college, i more or less accepted my name. And was no longer shy, to introduce myself as CK. In fact, i would be proud to introduce myself as CK, CK Kumar. Not sure, if that had any impact on people hearing me, but it sure started sound good to me.
But soon i faced a different dilemma, ‘what does CK stand for’ ? Early on, i had no problem answering people and expanding my initials and stating my name. But soon i got tired of this. Specially after landing in the US, where people butchered my full expansion whenever they tried it, and also found it very strange that i had my lastname and first name all screwed up. Soon, i found out that this name became convenient to use. It took some clever thinking and some persuading to get the first credit card, Social Security card etc issued as C.K. Kumar. But once the first new identities and credit card were acquired with this name, it was a breeze after that. I even managed to get the Immigration service in the US to use C.K. Kumar, much to the displeasure of a few officers, after the acquisition of the green card.
I now refer to my self as ‘CK Kumar’, where CK is a name by itself. It stands for nothing, it expands to nothing. I do sometimes sit down and explain to friends, if it ever comes up for discussion, after having had a good or close association. Otherwise, its just CK.
Now, if i only could go after the guy who started branding underwear using the same name !!!