Thursday, June 14, 2007

For a Name's Sake

The Namesake would have been just another book I scrambled to read in a hurry in order to avoid paying a customary fine to the librarian (who of late has considered making me one of the library's official stakeholders for the fat income it gets out of the fine I pay).... if it weren't for the profound retrospection it gave way to.

Retrospection, on all those times as a kid when I'd wish I had a cooler name or at least an easier one to call myself by so that I wouldn't have to repeat my name some 5-10 times to all the British kids and teachers at school.

Having your name mutilated by the Indian masses is one thing (Mythili, Mydeenee, Maydilee,Megini...yeah, I've heard it all) but having your name shrunk to the size of a month of the year and being called that by everyone including your teachers is another; and this certainly is not my idea of 'cool'.

My name was a serious issue for me when I was in Junior-School more so because of the cute names my friends in class would have. Even the Indians in my school had short and chic names.
I remember Kajal Pai being a hot favorite and I secretly liked the way it sounded as opposed to the 3-syllabled first-name I possessed followed by yet another 3-syllabled sirname......too much for Non-Indian standards.
And too much for a sensitive 7 year old.
There were seriously times when I'd ask my mom if we could change my name...and she'dlook at me incredulously and ask..again?

Unlike the book where in Gogol changed his name from a un-cool one to a cool one, my name when I was a kid was changed from a simple one to a complex one. This bugged me for quite some time. (long saga...might blog on it sometime. Or then again, maybe not)

But yes, my detestation for my name did die down soon.
I moved schools. The Indian School, to be precise.
I was no longer the strange kid with the weird name.
I discovered that Indians (especially South-Indians) have the innate ability to name their children with the longest of names and I was no longer left alone in the dark.

Ah, those were the days (loud sigh)....where the smallest of things would leave me excited!
I'd go running home to my mom (well not really but I'd like to think so) exclaiming, 'Ma! There's a girl called Hamsavardhini in the neighbouring class' and I would count my fingers while I chirped Ham-sa-var-dhi-nee in glee.

(Note to self: keep topic of blog in mind while blogging)

Ah what was trying to say (somewhere) is that, despite the initial apathy I had for my name, I'd begun to love my name . The very sound of it...and very way its written in Sanskrit and in Tamil; Not because of its uniqueness or anything or because there are perhaps only a hand-few of 'me's in this world.... but because its my identity and its perhaps one of the few (or only) decisions my parents have both harmoniously agreed upon.

On reading The Namesake, I felt grave pity for Gogol. (the protagonist of the book who apart from leading an unfortunately-loser life, changes his name to suit the American way of life) ...pity, because he'd turned down his father's most precious gift to identity, with a solid meaning to cherish.

I sometimes fear that there's a Gogol in all of us. Inside me.
I could categorically dismiss this thought as seeming absurd...but I don't know.
I really don't know.

8 Confounded-souls had something to say:

D:- said...

hmmm... yeah, reminds me of the time when diptish was shortened to dip. and then since dipyaman and i were both dip, mine was further shortened to D (apparently coz i was shorter than him!) ;)
but yeah, there really were some long names back in school, at isb, werent there?? man, those were fundays!
**feelings of nostalgia sweeping over**

D:- said...

and hey.. if it aint too personal, wut does maythini mean btw? just curious! u dont haveta answer if u dont wanna! its aite! :)

~*kavita*~ said...

i still remember when someone said ur name for the first time, i askd her to repeat it once more.. and still more, i askd her to spell ur name!!

and then u became Mayth for me.. :)

bharani said...

he he....maythini...sweet and cute as it is...not to mention how unique it is too....but maami is still the best...

"...maami"..."DON'T call me that"... "maami.."... "bharani please DON'T call me that"...he he...

u won't know what a harrowing time i go through here when i have to tell my name to someone...i am taking french classes in the 4th really pissed off when the teacher (it's a she...and a good she at that..) couldn't pronounce my name for nuts...she's like "paarini"...i was like "Bha - Ra- Ni".... she's like "parani"... hell...

MaYtH!! said...

@ D: Nostalgia yeah yeah. :)
'n Maythini....means Bhoomi-Devi; Mother Earth. Ppl can never map the spelling with the way its pronounced...but I'm living with it ;)

@Kavi: Mayth makes things a lot more simpler. ;)

@Bee: Well...every dog has its day. (no implications though;))
YOu have your French teachers, and I had my ordinary ones to deal with.
Ensoi it while you can! :P ;)_

Bhaumik said...

Even i had mis-spelled ur name initially.. u know, its akward to ask a person the spelling of his/her name... But i remember, i had to ask the spelling of ur name while storing ur mobile no. in my phone;-) Anyways, for me, calling u Maythini is as comfortable as calling u Bu** ;-)

--xh-- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
--xh-- said...

i fondly remember times when i wanted to change my name - some how, i never liked my name whn i was a kid, and later when i realised that my grandfater wanted to name me Kumar (which sounded cool to me thna my name - aNoop) i tried with all my might to change my name. The good old days.. :-)(btw, u hv been blogrolled)