If you’ve been watching this space for a while (which I doubt, but nevertheless), you might be wondering by now if I have some kind of obsession with names. I mean, look at the introduction to this blog. Look at that post on my dad’s dual name. Name-Obsessed Freak, they all scream. I am one. Some people use pick-up lines to sustain conversation. I ask people what their name means. But it’s not my fault. When you spend half your childhood learning to pronounce your own name, and half your adulthood trying to explain it to people, this kind of thing is bound to happen.
I think names are fascinating. And people with unusual names, even more so. Let me state quite clearly at this point that by fascinating, I don’t mean pleasant or nice or kind or wonderful. Fascinating. Sometimes in the same way that it’s fascinating to watch someone toast an ant with a sunray carefully aimed through a magnifying glass. Of course that doesn’t mean that people with ordinary names are ordinary. Ted Bundy was called Ted, after all. And some of my best friends have mundane names. Um, that’s not really true – most of my friends have wacky names. V, N, S, M – you will all agree. And those who’ve been blessed with normal names have had them mutated and mutilated till they only faintly resemble their original shape. Sugarcane will nod vehemently at this point.
The thing is, I think parents don’t realise what they’re doing when they name their children. The sheer responsibility that lies in their hands is astounding. And most parents just commit casual torture by naming their children any which way they like. Like Sapna or Pooja or Vijay or Kumar. I mean, how can you give your own flesh and blood such a completely generic, free size name? The way I see it, your name does affect your destiny. Can you imagine a Modulus the Great? Or a Robin the Conquerer? Or a Saint Jessica? Precisely. Closer home, why do you think Bollywood stars take on screen names? It all adds up.
But do parents realise this? Um, nope. They’re too busy planning the christening, watching assorted relatives coo over the apple of their eye, to wonder if the name they’ve chosen has any trace of a personality whatsoever. Of course, sometimes they get all carried away. I know mine did. Not once, but twice.
My brother you see, is called Tejas. His name is spelled with an ‘a’ at the end. Tejasa. It’s a completely unnecessary A and the rest of the letters make no bones about the fact. They don’t invite it to their parties, they don’t share their private jokes with it and they make it feel as out of place as possible. In fact, my poor brother had to go through many painful years at school with classmates wondering who this Tejasa chick is, and their disappointed looks when they discovered that it’s secretly the boy with the large ears on the back bench.
But he should consider himself lucky. They were going to name him Rudraghosh. Rudraghosh Khambete. Now that’s what I call cruel and unusual punishment.