The Difficulty of Being Taimur Ali Khan


The Difficulty of Being Taimur Ali Khan

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar/Arré

Imagine trending the minute you’re born.

You haven’t made a single joke, you haven’t strung together a sentence, hell you probably haven’t made your first turd. All you’ve done is been born and a hashtag that is uniquely yours has been attached to your name and you’re already a suggested search on Google. That’s the kind of stuff 21st century dreams are made of. Happy one year, #TaimurAliKhan. And boy, what an entry you’ve made.

A year ago, I didn’t have details on how his birth took place offline, if not for the press release of his online delivery by his loving family. “Taimur Ali Khan was born on 20th December. Mama and baby are doing fine, but the internet seems to be in a critical condition. The internet will be under observation for the next 48 hours. We are hoping things will get better. Please keep us in your prayers and hashtags.”

Last December, the name Taimur’s antecedents as the Turco-Mongol conqueror who ruled most of Asia and parts of Russia during the 14th century, offended and upset our internet janata massively. Mainly because they had to spend hours brushing up on medieval history, so that at the end of it, they could do the brave thing of picking a fight with a toddler and label him as, well, anti-national. For the love of God (either Hindu or Muslim), they should have picked on someone their own size. Or age. Or someone who at least had a freaking Twitter account. Or on the basis of something that did not take place a zillion years ago in an era where every king came into power or stayed in power using violence as a necessary tool.

Wikipedia failed to explain to these purveyors of Timurid and Mughal history that back then, no king ascended to power riding on their charm, great sense of humour, or the promise of vikas. They waged wars back then. That’s what they did. There was no UN to settle disputes. Or the US to impose sanctions. The world was just one big bar brawl. The only way to spread your school of thought over somebody else’s, was through war and religion. It was similar to hacking a Twitter account. You forcefully take over someone’s profile and followers and then change their password so they can’t log back on. Same thing happened, except it happened IRL.

Judging a person by the deeds and actions of his namesake who existed 500 years earlier is like zipping into the future to find out that the internet is calling someone an Islamophobe for bearing the last name Togadia.

I, for one, wanted to congratulate Kareena and Saif for not naming their kids Saifeena. Or, Saifeen. Or worse, Karif. If your child’s name is a combination of letters from your name and that of your spouse, then it is a clear indicator that you are not ready to be parents. It just shows zero imagination and effort on your part. AB + CD = AC or BD is acceptable when, say, things are unplanned and unexpected. Aditya + Rani = Adira. Mira + Shahid = Misha.

What were you thinking, guys? When your kid grows up and somebody asks them the meaning of their names, they will have to dole out gyaan like this: “Ah, my name pretty much means reproduction. The story is that half the letters from my mom fertilised half the letters from my dad. I am their earnest attempt at explaining to the world how procreation takes place.”

So yeah, one year later, I still stand by Taimur. It is a fine name. I’m not saying it is perfect. It kind of sounds like a vestigial growth above the femur. But worse names have been foisted upon us. (Yes, Bubbly Nipplewala, I’m talking to you.) But if you really want to take the “Taimur” thing seriously, go show the middle finger to every guy named “Prithviraj”, “Ranjit”, or “Akbar”. And really, if the name Taimur upsets because of his “racial preferences” then the name Narendra should send shivers down your spine.

Our real problem with Taimur was that it celebrates a victorious Muslim leader in a world where victorious Muslim leaders are not to be celebrated. Sanjay Leela Bhansali learnt it the hard way. It is a world which believes people with names like Taimur will grow up to reclaim India by driving all of us out, citing reasons that his namesake was here first. It is a world that does not see the guy half across the world who is at the cusp of doing something similar and whose name is not Taimur.

Donald sounds so nice. Donald ideally should have dutifully taken care of his family while being loyal to just one woman – Daisy. He had only one vice, though. He never wore pants. But guess what, looking at the Donald deal we have got, we’d take “no pants” over “no Muslims” any day. Judging a person by the deeds and actions of his namesake who existed 500 years earlier, is like zipping into the future to find out that the internet going into a tizzy and calling someone an Islamophobe for bearing the last name Togadia.

Taimur Ali Khan has his whole life ahead of him and it does not include wars and genocide. It does, however, definitely include a Karan Johar launch and a Head & Shoulders contract. In an ideal world, we ought to wish him love, luck, and a little bit of dandruff. Instead we spewed hate.

It just proves one thing. Internet trolls are like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Just not ready to have children, yet.