His name was Esakkimuthu. His father’s name was Pichaimuthu. In accordance with his community’s usual traditions, he wrote his name as Pi. Esakkimuthu. And some smart Alec in his second standard class coined the unfortunate, but obvious nickname – ‘PiE.’ From then on, he was called PIE, almost exclusively.
His friends called him PIE, as did his teachers. His first crush called him PIE, as did his first girlfriend who dumped him soon after learning his real name. That incident led him to embrace his nickname, which he had borne with resentment until then. He started introducing himself as PIE. ‘Call me PIE’, he said with a flourish.
Esakkimuthu, who hated his real name for being too old fashioned, became a confident and successful person after becoming ‘PIE’. During his college years, PIE dated the girl who won the University beauty pageant. Immediately after college, PIE got a plum job with a multinational bank, where he charmed the pants off his boss – figuratively and literally. They got married within the year.
PIE Climbed steadily in his career and enjoyed tremendous success all through it. He was meticulous and they said that he had all the answers. He was Mr. PIE. He was Monseur PIE when he went to the investor meeting in Paris. His Japanese counterparts called him PIE ‘San’. He was a made man.
His wife quit her job soon after they had their first kid. She re-launched her career as a freelance financial consultant and made enough money to retire on the day she turned 40. PIE’s sons completed their education at prestigious global institutions. They were now married and led successful lives abroad.
PIE retired last Monday. His organization made a huge fuss over him and his colleagues bent over backward to ensure that the farewell party proceeded without a hitch. They had ordered a giant cake, obviously shaped like a pie, for their one and only ‘PIE’ sir. They were all grateful for this poised, gentle giant who had all the answers. PIE’s sons had flown in with their families to join him on his day of celebration.
The next day, PIE was watering the plants in his garden when his four-year-old grandson came up to him. He was named ‘Esakki Pichai’, a shortened version of PIE’s own name.
“Gramps, why does everyone call you PIE?”, he had a very quizzical look on his face. “Don’t we eat pies?”
“Because PIE is a very cool name, by which your gramps likes to be called. That’s why”, PIE took the garden scissors and set about pruning the rose bushes.
“But your real name is cool. It’s the same as mine. PIE is just a stupid, stupid name for a guy.”
PIE, a person who they said had all the answers, felt stumped.