It is possible there is a Latin word for it – you know, one of those things that end in ‘phobia’, and reveal your true character. No, not hydrophobia, which is the fear of adding water to your beverage; or claustrophobia, which, as we all know is the fear of claustros. Or even that thing which means fear of walking into a movie theatre where everyone else’s phones start ringing at the same time. Maybe there is no Latin word for it, and we will have to make do with an English one.

Everybody has some phobia or the other, a wise man once said. Mine is the fear of filling in forms. Perhaps that is fillophobia. Or formophobia. Or filloformophobia. Give me a form to fill – passport, visa, income tax, bank account opening, magazine subscription, guarantee card at a consumer store – and I will mess it up. This is partly because my mind wanders easily and partly because I can’t believe that anybody in his right mind would ask questions like “What is the name of your first pet?”

This question threw me recently when I was trying to retrieve a password online. When Robert Browning was asked to explain the meaning of one of his poems, he said, “At the time of writing, only God and I knew; now only God knows.” It is the same with me and  passwords as well as password recovery questions.

I mean, what do I consider my first pet? Did I have any pets at all or was I making up stories to impress the website? And if I made up a name did I write it in all caps? Or caps every alternate letter (which must have sounded cute to me when I did it?).

I normally keep copies of the forms to be filled, certain that I will somehow manage to ruin one or two up before I get it right. Sometimes where I should be writing MMYYYY in a date column, I write DDMMYY, and you know how terrible that can be. Most forms warn against leaving anything blank. I don’t have a middle name (in the accepted sense), so I fill in ‘Pheno’ and try to imagine the look on the form-reader’s face when he sees someone is named ‘Phenomenon’.

Now I have a plan for online questions. I shall simply write the name of our planet whatever the question is for future identification purposes. Mother’s  maiden name? Earth. Best friend in school? Earth. First foreign country visited? Earth. Fifteenth pet? Earth. The license number of your first vehicle? Earth. You get the idea.

The website has to remember all those questions. I only have to remember one answer.

More from Suresh Menon:

Your call is important — press on regardless

When you know a shortcut, keep quiet

When old friends return to haunt you