Monday, March 4, 2013

Blame it on the name

"What's in a name?" Like any delirious poet, Wordsworth had no idea what he was getting into when he said this. What? Not Wordsworth's words? Bah!What's in a name anyway. There are greater identity issues lurking around than to bother about what other name to give a rose. But now that I mention it, do you think a rose would smell just as sweet if I called it horse-shit? No, really, it's worth the imaginary, aromatic plop.

I guess our tryst with a name begins even before we are conceived. It was quite difficult anyway to sort out the XX and XY issue and then no sooner that you land, you're given a couple of tags and a set of surnames to juggle with! And a few are unlucky enough to get the middle one too!

The moment a baby comes out bawling, people are fiddling with its fragile ego by ridiculous comparisons to an animal and/or inanimate objects. I mean, which self-respecting newborn aspires to be a bunny, bug, candy or marshmallow? A name, I tell you, is the first catastrophe in an individual's life.

As I grew up dealing with a gender insensitive treatment towards my name (in Punjab, there are common names for men and women, for example, Balmeet may well be a portly male or a female equivalent) as I would often receive letters/phone calls addressed to/for a certain Mr. Jaspreet. After conditioning myself not to get offended by the use(or misuse), I began to regale myself in the glory of my pet(nick) name (Punnu/Poonam) in my social interactions. It was not long before I discovered that my parents had chosen my nick-name after a passionate lover from Punjabi folklore. Quite bearable this, had Punnu not been the guy in the love-story! Soon, the benefit of multiple identities dawned on me and I stuck with Poonam, only to realise that some of my blindly affectionate friends chose to call me 'Poo' instead of the beautiful Poonam (which means full-moon night. I have additional thoughts on this too but that's for laters). Now, I just hope, they at least add an 'h' in the end and turn me into a respectable, huggable, fat bear(male again). Next time your honey (read spouse) goes missing, don't come glaring at me.

As there's no pepper in peppermint and no butter in buttercup; just so, there's no aim in a name. It's just a random use of syllables to make your ID card look meaningful. If names were of any use to anyone, people would have started patenting them eons ago. Indian names would find special mention in the Guinness Book for being the most spaced-out (like Murugan Swaminathan Krishnan Venakateshwaran Iyer), quite literally, as also the Chinese for the most ingenuously guttural tongue-twisters. French names would find 'un aspect gallant' under the title 'The Lost Consonant' and the English would be credited with the clever marriage of numbers to legendary names like Henry, James and Elizabeth. This might upset the Mexicans though, as over-rolling the 'r's and hurling gusts of sensuous wind for every meaty consonant, would only qualify for a place in honorable trivia. There you go Jojoba, Alexandra! 

I'm not the only one rolling in the mud here. Many of my friends have probably locked their cupboards with the skeletons in them and are on their way out to toss the key in the well. I was brave enough to come clean. Hey you, Titi (Tit-y?), Humpa ( hump her?) , Shabnam(Shabby?), Shagufta (Shaggy?) and the ones who've already scaled the compound wall....what's there to hide? It's just a name, m'dears...and what's in a name, afterall? Just a clever play of syllables on the tongue. Would Santa, the erstwhile Punjabi Mr. Bean, really mind if he was called Satan by a slip of the slob? He'd be able to get away with so much and then easy-breezy, just blame it on the name!

Peace, sunshine....and mosquitos!
Catch you in the morning, if these blood-er-suckers leave me alive.

Vishraam (At ease)

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