Woe’s in a name

This goes out to all the people in this world with an unusual name.

Do you dread meeting new people because you’ll have to repeat your name thrice – and slower each time?

Do you heave an exasperated sigh every time you have to go up on  stage because you’re sure the  annoying announcer is never going to pronounce your name right?

Do you feel your spine tingle whenever someone mutilates that beautiful name you go by and looks at you with confused pity as though he isn’t sure whom to blame – your parents or you?

You’re not alone, bro(/sis). You’ll never be alone in this world teeming with lazymouths who would name everyone Tom or John or Jack, if they had it their way.

I’ve been called a lot of things over the years.  I’ve had to respond (extremely reluctantly) to Roof, Rof, Rao,  Rafu, Rouse (Seriously, WTF?). And it isn’t really that bad a name , is it? R-A-O-U-F. Come on, how tough was that? A wee bit tough,yes, I know. But not tough enough to justify the alarming frequency with which I get called alarmingly terrible versions of my own name.

A common mistake people make is calling me ‘Abdul’. I dont really know why, but it irks me like anything. BTW, My name in full is Abdul Raouf KP. It’s kind of understandable why people make that mistake. Hell, you don’t even see why that is a mistake, right?

Abdul Raouf – An Arab would pronounce it Abdurraouf because it’s actually one word and ‘L’ cannot ell if it comes before ‘R’. So Abdurraouf – translates to ‘Servant of the most merciful’.

Raouf is a synonym of Allah and hence I’m not supposed to be called ‘Raouf’ since that would mean I’m godlike. Well, that’s kind of true, but still ;). I’ve always been called Raouf – well not always , like I said earlier – and I prefer to answer to ‘Raouf’.

So, No, I am not Abdul and Raouf’s not my father’s name. Glad we cleared that up.

The ‘aou’ is in there to nicely round that sound. Let the ‘a’ and ‘Ow’ forth and melt into each other. My name wasn’t always spelt like this. I don’t actually remember what it actually was, it was either ‘Rauf’ or ‘Rouf’. Okay, it was spelt ‘Rauf’ I think. 6-yr old me wasn’t impressed enough with the ‘something-missing-in-the-name’ and inserted the missing ingredient, an ‘o’ to nicely “round” it off.

6-yr old me was quite the little genius. I always had bursts of inspiration – like burn a patch of my hair with a candle – in situ – and mark my right hand with a marker pen so I didn’t have to choose a hand at random before eating. Unlike the other stupid – and cute 🙂 – things I did, the ‘o’ in my name didn’t fade away with time. It stuck and found its way into a host of official documents and with time, it felt like the ‘o’ had always been there.

Do the perpetrators of ‘Rao’ and ‘Rouse’ know what a travesty it is to dishonor a name with such a beeeyootiful backstory?


I know there are names treated with even less respect. I rest my case. Waiting to hear from The Brotherhood of Mutilated Names. 🙂

PS :

I didn’t even get started on being misspelt! Now that’s another long rant.