I often end up asking Aai why she decided to call me Sai. Yes, that was what I was called before I very stupidly replaced the “i” with “ee”. I think my name has no personality and I so often wish that my mom had chosen some other inspiration for my name.
I was born when Indira Gandhi was ruling India. She could have followed the news and called me Indira.
My grandmother is called Anuradha. It is such a pretty name. It reminds me of a hundred waterfalls. It paints a tall and calm woman, with long curly hair who walks about in the house without a sound and leaves her presence in everything that she does!
Although my aaji is not exactly that kind of woman, she is calm and she does leave her signature on everything she does.
My mom is called Vasudha.
It might not be a soft feminine name but it does have a strong aura. It sketches a woman of strength. Vasudha means “the earth” in Sanskrit. It is really a “down-to-earth” name. Apt for a practical woman who wears brown shades of lipstick and never cries in public.
Priyadarshini is such a musical name. It can also be cut down to an affectionate Priya!
When your name is really long, somehow people utter it for a longer time. I envy people with long names. Sometimes just because it is a rare and long word, people tend to remember you more.
We have really entertaining names on my mother’s side. Her aunts are called Nandini, Ranjani and Sarojini. One of my mom’s cousins is called Alankar. It could be a rough English equivalent of “jewel” but that is not why he is called Alankar. In Sanskrit “Alam” means “Enough” and he being the youngest Alankar was a way of saying “ We have had enough kids”. I have always been fascinated by the sense of humor that runs in my family. =)
Some of the Bengali names I have heard are like paintings. If a guy is called Chitranshu, he doesn’t have to do anything else to look good. Siddharth is such a serene name. It sounds like half Buddha. Mihir reminds me of a tall handsome guy with tiny eyes. When I hear about anyone called “Rahul” I always imagine him to be wearing cool Raybans and a leather jacket. Maybe that is what too much of Shah Rukh Khan does to you.
One of my cousins is called Leelavati. She was named after a compilation in mathematics. And she is called Leelu for short. It is such a melodious name. When people across the hall call out “Leelu” even I would feel like running towards them.
On this picturesque background, my name sounds like someone is slipping off an abandoned banana peel on the street. Saee is such a slippery name. To make it worse, I have added two Es in the end to turn it into a slipping-on-soap name. It slips faster now. No one can shorten it affectionately because it is already too short and half the world doesn’t pronounce it right. Some mispronunciations are cute. Like when the Bengalis pronounce the “S” in other Indian names as “Sh”. But even the Bengalis don’t do that to me. Saee means “ a friend” which is like as lame as it could get. It is a name that reminds me of a girl who never grows up so when I am forty I would not be really suitable for my own name! Some names exude power or mystery. My name doesn’t do that. It is not a name that gets people wondering what kind of a person I could be. Like if a group of people talks about a girl called “Konkana” at least one of them remarks, “ Oh! Wow what a nice name!” It will never happen in my case. If my name comes up in a group discussion at least one of them will twist his or her face in a mixture of expressions that suggest a headache and a difficult math problem and ask, “ What? What was that name again?”
It lacks flavor too. Like Rashmi is a sweet name. Jyotsna is piquant and crisp. Laila is spicy. My name is like decaf coffee.
Some names have an inherent rhythm. Like Aniruddha. It begins and ends so gracefully. Saee has no beginning and no end. It is like something obscure mixing into something even more abstract.
When I ask my parents why they didn’t do any significant research in naming their only child they roll their eyes and tell me that they had better things to do. Aai once told me that I was free to make some kind of application and get it changed, but like it so much goes with my name I did not take any active effort in making that happen.
Maybe I should try and build some personality into my name. Like how even though Mamata is such an affectionate name, Mamata Banerjee makes it sound like long nails screeching against a wall. Like how people look at everybody called Dawood with a hint of suspicion. Like how Brad, which could have passed off as a typo for Bread gets so many women’s hearts beating faster.
I should be grateful however that I am not Bhagyalakshmi Keskar or Gogol Ganguly!
Or maybe I should just cling to the cliché and praise myself by saying “A rose by any other name!” =P