Owl Opinions

‘Aiya’, ‘Nangi’, ‘Dharuwo’ – What You Call Someone Matters

Your parents are called mother and father in whatever language or form for a reason. At no point do children suddenly switch to calling their parents by their first names, even as adults. Because the nature of your relationship is that of a son or daughter to your parents.

Children on the other hand grow – from infants to adults and parents care for them from infancy to adulthood and often beyond as well. As children grow, what we call them and refer to them matters. Many a time, parents call their grown adult children ‘baby’ or ‘baba’. Your child ceased to be a baby at about 1 year. After that they grow from toddlers, to children to teens and adults. As an adult, your child is your son or daughter. Call them as such. You can have a nickname or pet name but it should not be one that infantilises that person as an adult.

Infantalisation of people takes away agency and does not hold them accountable for their actions. University lecturers referring to adult students as children or ‘dharuwo’ is problematic. They are adults, they needed to be called as such and treated as such.

Another form of this is where married couples call each other ‘aiya’ and ‘nangi’. Those are terms referred to family members who are a brother or sister. Calling your spouse that changes the relationship dynamic and power play. It is also incestuous in a sense because we do not marry siblings. If you grew up knowing someone as an aiya or a nangi, when you start a romantic relationship, that needs to change. Another form of this is where spouses call each other ‘Ammi’ and ‘Thaththi’. Your spouse is a parent to your child. Not to you. Please stop calling them this – it infantalises you where men have married their mothers and women their fathers – incestuous and extremely problematic. A marriage is a partnership between two consenting adults. Your relationship sets the stage for that of your family. Make sure it is a mature, adult one. Not something that heralds incest and inequal power.

A further extension of this is the aiya – malli, akki – nangi calling at work places. Your colleagues are your colleagues – not your family members. Call them by their name. Respect is given in how you behave towards someone – not by giving them some familial name. These contexts need to be re-examined and changed. Blind adherence to bad habits has been the downfall of many. We should not just follow suit.



Meet Lilanka
“what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
An eclectic personality with a penchant for creativity, Lilanka is an old soul who loves life, laughter and stepping off the beaten track. She finds joy in nature, travelling and venting her existential frustrations via her writing while calming her body with food and her soul with music. Her motto is – “what is meant to be comes about of what one does”.
A collection of eclectic expressions from life according to Lilanka Botejue. From her creative outbursts and passionate views to her love for nature, food, music and archaeology, Owl Muses is an attempt to capture these moments in time.
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