I admit, I have a unique name. Combined that with my last name, its one of a kind in the whole world. Now combine that with my father’s name (middle name), I can bet that there is no one and absolutely no one in the whole wide world like me. I mean only in the name factor.
31 years ago, when my parents decide to name me, they consulted my uncle. The elder brother of my father wanted me to carry the legacy of my grandfather. My grandfather was an ordinary man. He died young leaving behind two sons and a daughter. My Grandmother bought up three children on her own. She had a bigger legacy than my grandfather but then my uncle was adamant and then he named me after my grandfather. I am my grandfather’s namesake.
Mujhe mere baap ke baap ka naam diya hai!
Not to be left with a traditional name, my Mausi (my mother’s sister) decide to give me a more modern and simple name, Sameer. However when registering in the birth certificate, they registered the name that Uncle gave me. So I am called by my present name, officially. Although at home and my close relatives still call me Sameer.
I hated my official name during my childhood. It was such a task just to explain the pronunciation of my name. In addition I did not know the meaning of my name. There were a hundred Amits, Nileshs, prashants, Ashishs and a lot many common names but there was only one with my name.
Even the teachers were confused. Till Standard 3, I came quite late in the roll call because the teacher thought that my last name started with a “P”. After 3rd standard, some one realized that my last name started with a “D” and P is my first name. I jumped in the roll call to get a roll number in the first 20 digit numbers. I have always been one of the top 20 students and it has nothing to do with academics.
All my school life I was known for my name rather than any of my accomplishment. Actually I did not achieve anything worthwhile in school other than passing out without failing in any class. Most of my friends in my building knew me as Sameer. I never told them and they never asked my registered official name. The name remained a secret for many years even though I did not intend it to be a secret.
Everything changed during my 10th standard. One of my school classmates who also attended tuitions with me would visit my home. Then he would stand below our balcony and shout my name. The whole building would wonder who the hell he was shouting for until I would rush to the balcony to make him stop. After that, many switched to my official name.
The only problem was I had a big name and hence the shortening started. Shorter variations of my name were invented and new variations were added everyday and finally everybody settled for 3 variation of my name. Till date everybody around me calls me by any of the three short version of my name.
It was always difficult to make people pronounce my name correctly. It’s a typical Marathi name and difficult to pronounce for non-maharahstrians. Its easier for others to use my shortened name. I was even surprised to find my Dutch manager addressing me in mails using my shortened easy-to-use name.
After years, I have come to like my name. It gives me a unique and distinct identity. Nobody forgets me. They always remember me as the person with the weird name and yet they shorten it to suit their need.
But then not every name remains the same. You have a name and you have a pet name. A pet name is the name your parents gave you when you were their bundle of joy. The name stayed even though the bundle of joy didn’t remain that. Sometimes the pet name is derived from the name itself. I have found people running away from thier pet names after a certain age. I don’t think a “Pappu” or a “Bandya” or a “Pinky” or even a “chinky” should be embarrassing. It was your identity back then.
The biggest advantage I got from a rare, unique name was after the spread and popularity of Internet. With so many email ids and sites which require you to register, I did not have problem registering. My name was always available. I never had a email if which read email@example.com. I can pity those people who have a very common name so much that even the official id needs to have a number like firstname.lastname@example.org
Some days back when I was talking to some friends, we were discussing how the shortening of name can be really really harmful. A Srikrishnan becomes a ‘Sri’, a Deepanita becomes ‘Dips’. Sometimes this names can turn out to be quite funny and embarrassing to the person. In Marathi, the last name achieves the same significance and the name is beaten, twisted and used according to the convenience of the person. Its not surprising that one can hear many variation of the last name only like ‘Sawatya’, ‘Patla’ or ‘deshpandya’. The very purpose of giving a name is harmed. In the fast world we need to shorten the name to make it faster.
A name is a person’s identity. It is attached to the person personality, his character. There is no rule to select a baby’s name and try as you might; it would be shortened, twisted and god-forbid even damaged.
When Shakespeare said “What’s in a name?”, He certainly did not have any idea what’s in a name. A rose by any other name would still be called a rose but consider this;
“Look at the red rose. Its so beautiful”
Now consider this;
“Look at the Rosa Berber folia. Its so beautiful.”
The second sentence takes the romance out of the Rose. The second sentence is the scientific name of the rose. Shakespeare had no idea that he was so wrong. If the name was not so important then nobody would have credited him for the quote, he would not have been famous for writing all those plays and stories. Good thing he was not born now or he would have been given a pet name, maybe ‘shekhu’.
If he was right I wouldn’t have enjoyed the Sholay’s dialog
“Tumhara naam kya hai basanti?”
So, as I become comfortable to the names given to me by my parents, my colleagues, my friends, I hope that I make my parents proud of my name with my deeds.
Main apne maa baap ka naam roshan karna chahta hoon. Come to think of it, Hrithik had it all easy. Usko toh pehle se he naam roshan karke mila.