I woke up this morning -- like several other Indians -- blissfully unaware of the meaning of several words that exist in the vast repository of language. Taimur was one of them. Halfway through the day, I am still blissfully unaware of the meaning of several of these words, but Taimur, isn't one of them.
I could perhaps thank Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan for adding a word to my vocabulary, but if Twitter and Facebook are any proof, that may just be considered blasphemy. Because the guardians of social media's morality and cultural sensitivity have declared Taimur the name-equivalent of the act of not standing up when Jana Gana Mana plays in movie theatres. As far as my Google research goes, Taimur--up until Saif and Kareena chose the word as their child's name--meant 'made of steel' in Urdu. As the day progressed, the name lost all its Superman-esque charm and became synonymous with hatred for Hindus or at least a lack of empathy for their sufferings. Several others wondered aloud, who names a child after a murderer-plunderer. Seriously, who?
As the day progressed, the name lost all its Superman-esque charm and became synonymous with hatred for Hindus or at least a lack of empathy for their sufferings.
When I first heard the name, it did cross my mind that had Saif-Kareena been average Bengalis living in Kolkata like us, someone some day would call the boy chanachur -- a fried snack -- in school for sure. And it also struck me that the name resembled another I had read about in middle school history books. That person in question is Timur or Tamerlane, a conquerer who is credited with laying the foundation of Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia. A quick internet search reveals he was born in 1336 and died in 1405. Like several 'conquerers' you have read about, Timur, too, left a trail of death and destruction in the path of his ascent to power.
Now, it so happens that Saif and Kareena's baby boy's name is somewhat similar to that of a bloodthirsty conquerer from several centuries back. And the actors have been dragged through the coals on social media for being uninformed and insensitive creatures to 'celebrate' such a name. Though logic and this conspiracy theory shouldn't even be uttered in the same breath, one has to consider, if that logic is applied to all names, we will have to start naming children after inanimate objects. (Preferably food. Who wouldn't want to hang out with people named Chocolate Truffle, or Biryani, and awww, Gol Gappa?)
Though logic and this conspiracy theory shouldn't even be uttered in the same breath, one has to consider, if that logic is applied to all names, we will have to start naming children after inanimate objects
But before that, it is important to point out the inherent stupidity and the ridiculous prejudice driving this fatuous social media discussion. If you could put together the number of Indian men called Ashok, trust me, you could start a new country the size of Bangladesh. You may remember reading about 'Ashoka, the great's' change of heart after he witnessed the death and destruction that his invasion of Kalinga brought about, but that doesn't change the fact that he did lead the charge for the murder of innocents. But 'Ashok' in Sanskrit means 'devoid of sorrow'. Just what you wish for a newborn? And perhaps even want to name him/her? Of course. And hence, we have a gazillion Ashoks in India, and honestly, there's nothing remotely wrong with it.
Guess what the primary accused in the December 16, 2012 gangrape case was called? Ram Singh Yadav. A man who sexually assaulted a woman so brutally, that she died. Will Indians stop naming their sons 'Ram'? Not anytime soon and rightly so.
In 2002, a man named Babu Bajrangi led a mob that raped, assaulted and murdered 97 Muslims in Naroda, Ahmedabad. Try telling a Bengali that the use of the word 'babu' should therefore be taken as an endorsement of a heinous crime, you can watch his/her world of endearments and pet names fall apart with loud 'WTFs'.
Try telling a Bengali that the use of the word 'babu' should therefore be taken as an endorsement of a heinous crime, you can watch his/her world of endearments and pet names fall apart with loud 'WTFs'
And what about Akbar, Alexander, Jagdish, Ajmal, etc? Fun fact: Several people in Germany continue to have the surname Hitler and I can't remember the last time anyone went after them, demanding to know how they can live with that surname and sleep well at night. It's actually easy to refrain from such heartburn: one just needs to switch on a faculty most human brains have--rationality.
Moral of the story: saying that a child can't have a name which also happened to belong to killers, rapists and murderers is ridiculous at best.
But if one digs a little deeper into what may seem like a laughable and simply stupid 'trending discussion', it's easy to spot a pattern. Remember the time Saif and Kareena got married and Durga Vahini -- the women's wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad -- put her on the cover of their magazine issue on 'love jihad'?
Or after relentless trolling and outpouring of vitriol on social media, Saif Ali Khan wrote an oped on The Indian Express, stating the obvious -- 'inter-marriage is not jihad, it is India'.
Which brings me to the question: people ranting against Saif-Kareena for naming their day-old baby Taimur, where exactly have they sent their conscience on a holiday to?