Chicken Kari

Embarrassing nicknames anyone? Of course, we all have them. I have had my fair share too, although I have thankfully outgrown being embarrassed by them.

An old school friend was in my town recently, and we made plans to meet up. I had last caught up with him 5 years ago, and we had subsequently chatted online a few times. It was great fun to see him again, because, even though he may not remember it, he bestowed my enduring school nickname upon me.

Back when I was in the third grade, all of 7 years old, my mum had her silk business in Dubai. She was always into design, so she had a couple of fashion shows, although she was primarily into upholstery fabric and corporate gifts. [One day I will list out all the stuff my incredible mother has accomplished. She is really a cracker.]

Being a doting mum, she named her brand after me: 4 letters from my first name, and 3 letters from my surname. I was torn between being chuffed and embarrassed with all the attention. Also, I was in the fashion show. [A really, really doting mum. I am not sure I would let my hypothetical children into anything, because they are sure to be hellions.]

Since I was in the fashion show, I needed special permission to leave school early that one day. Of course, the leave was applied for and granted early on, so my class teacher knew about it. My mum asked me to get the permission slip signed on the day of, and so I did so, an hour or so before leaving.

Reliving the memory, I realise that my teacher asking me to do the steps for one of the choreographed sequences was fairly atypical. But at the time, I did it with aplomb. She asked me a lot of questions, and the innocent 7 year-old blurted out that my mother’s brand name was named after me: Kari—. And I explained how it was coined too.

Only for my friends to pick up on the fact that ‘Kari’ is a homonym of ‘curry’.

The next day, I learned that my new nickname was Chicken Curry. Everyone had picked up on it. The boys were hollering it all throughout break, and the girls ranged on my side for defence.

The funny part was that I didn’t mind. Every break, my friend stood in the doorway, yelled out “Chicken Curry!”, and peeled out into the school yard with the other boys. The girls and I would give chase, although what we were supposed to do once we caught them, we never really considered.

Today, only I and another friend remember that nickname. But it still makes me smile.


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