The Name Game

My brother removed  ‘Singh’ from his name and I removed ‘Jyot’  from my first name many years ago. We took our decisions independently and at different times. I don’t have any regrets but now after nearly a decade of formally cutting short my name I do feel bad. Feel bad for making changes to a possibly colourful story behind the keeping of my name (of which I am unaware!)

I realized recently that a lot goes into naming a child. From what I understand about my name was that my late paternal grandmother kept it. She was one dominating force in her time. I can visualize everyone keeping mum, including my folks, when she must have held me in my arms for the first time and said my name. And that was it. No ifs. No buts. Simarjyot it was. Did my parents like it? I don’t know. They accepted it …maybe happily, as it was taken for granted then.

About ten years ago I met a woman whose little boy was called Siddhant but she kept addressing him with some another long name which I can’t even remember now. It didn’t even sound like a nick name like Sid, Siddhu, Golu, Molu etc. Soon she told me that Siddhant was the name of her choice and the other was of her mother-in-law’s choice. Since they didn’t want to disappoint her, they stuck to both the names! Talk about the child and identity issues! And more than that it explained the battle of the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law.

A friend of mine who is expecting her first child soon and her husband have decided upon the names for both girl and a boy. The dilemma? They have not shared it with their respective parents yet and don’t know what their reactions will be. The names, when I was told, could make ones ears point up. Lovely names though. There was this whole one long conversation I had with her over the phone a few days ago when she just fretted upon this issue. She only calmed down when she ended up telling the chosen names the next morning to her mother-in-law. It didn’t turn out to be a big deal as much as she vexed a night before. And I know she will be only completely satisfied once the names are registered after the baby’s birth.

Another close friend happily told us the name of his baby boy a few years ago only to tell us later that it had been changed and then changed again. Too many people were involved in suggesting the name of his child. So much so that he gave up in the end. It was perhaps another battle of the in-laws. I never asked him so who was it that suggested this name. Too personal matter.

The politics that goes into naming the babies especially in a society like ours where despite most of us living out of the joint family setup still feel out of decency and our upbringing to involve our elders in matters such as this is grave.

Besides the domestic politics, there is a deep analysis too that some do in naming their babies. A friend’s friend has refused to keep his daughter’s name Sita because he would not like to associate his daughter with Queen Sita of Hindu mythology, Ramayana who underwent miseries all her life despite being a pious queen and an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi. Who would have thought that the name Sita would be also deliberated upon! If such is the case then none would name their babies from folks and mythology be it for their  little girl or a boy as our mythical heroes and heroines underwent enough trepidation in life. Just name any one top of your head. Lord Rama? Being evicted from his own house followed by 14 years of exile and then a hard battle fought with Ravana! Ganesha? Had his head chopped by his daddy just for listening to his mummy? Draupadi, ofcourse is a no-no. She was humiliated way too much. Karna, the tragic hero whose life started tragically and ended in one too despite being a good soul through out.  Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who waited for him most of her life while he travelled the world.

I wonder what the children of Hollywood celebrities think when they are named Apple, North (with a surname West), Dusty Rose, Shiloh etc. Maybe not any different from the rest of us as they have always been called that. Or they are trained to take on the burdens of being a celebrity right from their birth!

So for all those who think that they could have been named something else or like me shorten their names, or choose to be called by another name instead of the rightful one, think again.  Let us not be an anticlimactic factor to our very own story/process that went into keeping our names. 🙂

 

(image courtesy: https://a.dilcdn.com/bl/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2010/06/nametag1.jpg)

 

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Draupadi – the name and the shame

 

My mum while recalling her kindergarten years yesterday,  in particular an episode on how the little tots like her were peculiarly punished, she happened to mention the nursery teacher’s name which was a bit strange. However, what was even stranger was the name of the nursery teacher’s sister – Draupadi.

In the nearly four decades of my life with a good proportion of it being spent in three all girls’ school across the Indian states, I have not heard any girl with the name Draupadi.  For those not familiar with Indian epic and mythology and hence with the name Draupadi, it is of a queen from Mahabharta who went on to marry not one, but five brothers. She didn’t marry them out of choice but out of a situation on which she had no control on. She was pre-destined to marry the five valiant princes who later on went on to fight their 100 evil step brothers and reclaim their lost kingdom. So what is wrong with her name? There was nothing evil about her. She was a good daughter, sister, wife and queen. So what shrugs people, including me, from hearing someone named Draupadi? It is the story attached to her. When you think of her, you think of a woman with five husbands which of course means, sleeping with five men (sowhat if it was lawful) and of course we relate her with another disastrous episode from the epic: ‘cheer haran’ – i.e. being disrobed and that too in the royal court after her up-righteous  husbands (though human and filled with faults and we happily name our boys after them) lose her in gambling to their step brothers!  So for no fault of hers and despite having a ‘good’ character she is looked down upon with shame. How typical and in modern lines of getting raped and then having to feel ashamed about it. This is how it was centuries ago and sadly, continues to remain so even now! And then we talk about advancements. Advancements that have occurred only in science and technology. Ever heard of moral advancements?

Mythologies around the world are filled with characters with a dubious biography. But sadly Draupadi got chastened for no fault of hers! Luckily for Sita, she was a mere suspect and she passed the purity test! So we have millions of Sita around us. Suspects score better than victims.

I will be lying if I say that I will not be getting ideas if I come across someone named Draupadi. Deep-rooted myths and culture. Whatever I understand of it. Sad but true.

 

(pic courtesy: https://rrgwrites.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/women-of-india.jpeg)