What is in A Name? by Seshu Chamarty SignUp

What is in A Name?
Seshu Chamarty Bookmark and Share

Pity, one has to remember his or her username for the various homepages on the websites in addition to one’s name. That includes one’s given name, sir name, maiden name, and nickname /pseudo name.  Talking of names, who doesn’t love one’s name in print, be it on paper or screen. The wish to leave one’s name behind is very strong from the time immemorial. Even the graffiti in public places evidences it. Although one may not like the name appearing in the notices for payment dues.

People love to lend their names to books, statues, plaques, bridges, airports, et al.  even though ephemeral. Mispronounce a kid’s name just for fun sake, and expect some pure wrath. Kids can’t be appeased by the poetic line, ‘a rose called by any other name ...’ A name owned is an alter ego, identity and self-respect. Only the ardent lovers forgive each other when called by any other name. Even the gods love their names with thousands of their synonyms, but only in their praise and that has to be kept in mind.

For tradition-driven/ given long names, one may not find enough boxes in the online/offline forms. In that case it means the name carrier’s self-respect is also truncated and so the same should not be encouraged. Children in past used to be named after many a thing under the sky: persons living or dead, deities, famous personalities—sometimes foreigners like Lenin, Bernard Shaw, et al. Names of gods used to be so commonplace. Many used to be after the local deities, or the geographical landmarks (Himalayas not excluded). They included characters from mythology that has huge data bank for names.

I read two jokes in the line of names: --A guy starts up a conversation innocently with a stranger while traveling in a train. First he tells his name. Incidentally it meant a god’s body part. The other traveler returned the favor giving his own name. But that was yet another body part of another god, unprintable in that. The first man one got wild.  –Another was about a loving father from a strange country. His little child asks him why all her siblings got strange names. He gives in. He said he named them after whatever thing that he saw first thing in the morning after each of their respective births. Soon he dismissed the curious child asking him the difficult questions, ‘Hey, ‘Two Dogs in a Dirty Business’! Why don’t you go out and play?’

By the way, my mother had ‘Swarajya’ in her name. Obviously, she was born around Independence.   In those times of booming babies, parents used to prevent further procreation on voluntary basis. Wishfully the last child would be called Sampurnam— ‘the end’. In that high infant mortality age, there was also a practice to christen infants susceptible to communicable diseases with some foul-sounding names. That was with a superstitious belief their wards would survive. Once the children grew up into adults, parents would not care to rename them, and alas such temporary names stick for life for the latter’s chagrin.

My father used to listen to ‘Binaca Geet Mala’ broadcasted from Ceylon in those days. He used to hear carefully for some fancy names from the list of song lovers before a chosen number was played live. Even after hearing scores of such fancy names, he ended up with mine that has got a mixture of names of my great grandmother, grandfather, one Lord and his Lordess ruling the shrine at my birthplace. My name has also a legendary snake that served as a bed for a deity.

Finally those names with two or three syllables always sounded neutral and poetic. Rather it is also easier to recall them for cursing conveniently, more so when they have neither ancestors nor gods’ names. In some countries I heard people get only one syllable for a name; incidentally giving nightmares to the foreign callers who think it is an exclamation and not name. Sadly some names are ticked off as namesakes, oxymoron and antitheses as external features of the name bearers speak otherwise.

In the end I loved all pennames and usernames on the social websites. Reason: they are christened by the persons themselves, the real users— not by parents or guardians.

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Comment Nice muse.

10/21/2012 13:33 PM

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