Apr 23, 2010

What's your child's name?

Last week I got introduced to a neighbour through a common friend. She was talking about her experience of a career break due to motherhood and her new job. My son was having a short nap. She peeked into his stroller seat and asked me what was his name. When I responded, she expressed "oh simple-a vechuteenga".And she went on and her hubby too joined with her for the conversation... "We wanted a UNIQUE name for our son and named him so-and-so and you know it is a very uncommon name". But my husband's friend's son has the same name and is probably in his first grade now. He expressed it politely (not to offend them by any means though) and they shurgged and one of them said "But I am sure he will not have it spelt the way my son's name is spelt". And I am sure this would have been their dinner time conversation for the night.

Yesterday I took Chinnu to the play area in our community. There were 2 other kids enjoying their time on the slide. One of them was escorted by her grandfather. He asked me what's my son's name. His response was no different from the young couple and this time I was really taken aback.

Having a toddler causes us to interact with other folks especially those who entered into parenthood recently. And obviously "whats his/her age, name, activities, food habits" etc. are few of the discussion topics that will hang around. Out of such talks I kind of got an idea on how we Indians especially south Indians want to name our babies. The older generation followed these protocols for naming the newborns - 1) Name after some deity or kuladeivam in specific, 2) Name after one of the grandparents or great-grand parents 3) Name after the kshetra swami (the Lord mainly worshipped in the home ground or the current habitat). And they did not bother if there were a whole lot of people with the same name. There are lot of Krishnamurthy's amongst my paternal uncles - each one is referred to as S Kittu, N Kittu, R Kittu etc etc. and there are innumerable Usha's and Shantha's. But we, the today's generation want novel names and unique ones too. I am not against this but I think we should also try not to pass comments directly or indirectly about one's name. I read somewhere that for everybody under the sun it is his/her name that matters the most and no one can bear if someone misspells or mispronounces it. I always agree with this because I hate when people dont call my name properly - probably they breathe out the air when they say my name. Novel names sound good to the ears and may be easy to utter but at the same time we should also, to a greater extent, consider the meaning of the word. Some parents want to name their newborns after applying numerology. All they do is replace certain consonants with others such that it either means nothing or means something unpleasant. And another thing that I have wondered about is inventing new names which mostly are portmanteau of part or full of parents' names. A neighbour had framed her daughter's name from hers and her hubby's and per my father a very slight pronunciation change in the name will mean "A big Zero" in Sanskrit.

It is going to be sun-shine summer soon and I have to get myself ready to receive a lot of comments on my son's name in the neighbourhood, but absolutely no regrets. It was very rewarding when a Muslim lady told me "Oh that's wonderful name - I like it".