What’s in a name?

My friends call me Massive. And many of them still don’t know my real name. But I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, I like my nickname. It’s short. It’s unique. And it’s easy to remember.

My nickname is an adjective without a noun. So it makes people think. And wonder about that always absent noun. It causes embarrassment. And disappointment. But I’ve had other embarrassing and disappointing nicknames too.

My first nickname was a question. At five, before I knew a word of English, I was sent to a boarding school in India. There my teachers and fellow-students talked to me, encouraged me, persuaded me, and yelled at me, all in English. To all of them I replied, very courteously and patiently, “ga-che-mo?” – what is it? So Ga-che-mo? automatically became my nickname.

My second nickname was a noun. It was short and to-the-point. By the time I could speak English, my friends must have decided to get back at me for the countless ga-che-mo’s I had inflicted on them. So they called me Pot Brush. Very specific. But cruel. In fairness though, my hair was wild and my head big. So I would have looked like a brush used to clean – how should I put it? – toilets.

My next name was definitely uninteresting. I must have lost my colourful personality by then. My friends called me Toby, an abbreviation of Tobgay. Very boring.

Later I was called Big Darb, the only adjective-noun combination of a nickname I’ve been blessed with. “Darb” is Anglo-Indian slang for “head”. So even at 15, my head continued to attract undue attention.

And then I went to Sherubtse College. In my first week in Kanglung, Sonam Phuntsho, who now is the director of trade, called me Jaws. Incidentally, Sonam and I went to the same school and grew up in the same hostel. I now wonder if he was responsible for many of my nicknames. Come to think of it, it’s very possible.

Anyhow, I was satisfied. And secretly grateful. I liked Jaws. It was short, unique and instantly brought to mind Spielberg’s famous horror movie. What more could a boy ask for in a nickname.

But Sonam wasn’t satisfied. He decided to draw even more attention to my well-defined mandibles. So he called me Massive Jaws. My friends called me Massive.

The rest, as they say, is history.