Monday, June 15, 2009

What is in a name?

Notwithstanding the wisdom in the famous lines of William Shakespeare – “What is in a name? That we call rose by any other name would smell sweet” I still think name matters a lot. After all one hears his name thousands of times from the cradle to the grave. It is inextricably linked with everything of his life – his successes and failures, his nature and temperament, his social contributions as well as misdeeds. Consequently, a name gets firmly attached to the person like his shadow. Be that as it may, one must, to begin with, love his own name lest others make a dog’s breakfast of it.
On attaining adulthood, to my dismay, I realized that my name was solely responsible for encountering so many refusals against my initial romantic escapades. My grandfather had chosen ‘Satish’ at the time of my joining school and from then till date I am carrying it as a haversack. Satish - the hero of several novels of the great Bengali author Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya must have been the favourite character symbolizing sincerity and sacrifice for many including my grandfather. Today TV serials give sufficient clues as to why I was not a hot pick among girls. The story would have been quite different had I got ‘Sayan’ or ‘Subhro’ or any such trendy names.
No wonder, people are so choosy in giving names for the newly- born. Those who have religious or astrological beliefs go to any extent to fulfill their compulsions. A few years back, I was asked to suggest a name beginning with the alphabet ‘V’ for my grand-daughter. There are a few alphabets out of twenty-six in English language which provide only a few words beginning with them. That is why words beginning or ending with those alphabets are always dreaded in word games. After scratching my bald head for two days, I came upon the name ‘Vaijayanti’ which was hailed by all as a sweet name befitting the cute baby. I have not revealed as yet to anyone the secret behind my creativity foray; my favourite celluloid heroine ‘Vaijayantimala’ who came in dreams so often during my college days was the source of inspiration.
Some names are really funny but only their users know how badly they feel using them. If I have to address a short man as Mr High, or a slow working official as Mr Quick, it would put me off. When election was announced, Mr Moody or Mr Power could cause confusion with the prime-ministerial aspirants Mr Modi and Mr Pawar.
In Southern parts of India, a person’s name traditionally includes the name of the ancestral place he belongs to, the name of his father and finally his own name. Therefore some names can make one breathless if all the initials are to be expanded. The famous author Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Narayanaswami is better remembered as R.K.Narayan. Long names may also sound anachronistic especially in an age of miniaturization and the need of the hour is to use as short names as possible. In Bollywood, for a year or two, films with long names were released expecting audience queues would be correspondingly longer. But the clever public came out promptly with acronyms like QSQT (Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak) or DDLJ ( Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayange).
Taking cue from the above, my obituary should justifiably read: “SCD – Born 1940, Died 20..; Nobody knows what he did in between”.

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