Our names are no accidents, numerologists claim. I wouldn’t discount that. In India we believe in naming a baby according to its star or the moon sign, so to that extent our names seem to be predestined. However, the astrological name mostly remains in the horoscope and a person goes by the “real name” chosen by the parents or close relatives.
Most of us have no issues with our names. I guess we just learn to live with it just the way we get used to our height or the colour of our hair. But this post has been prompted by the fact that my daughter, Yashodhara, dislikes her name. The complaints started as soon as she stepped into her teens. Initially I never took her seriously always insisting that the name has a nice ring to it and a beautiful meaning—bearer of fame or glory. More importantly, I had chosen the name after Budhdha’s wife, a resilient, wise woman, thanks to my memories of my maternal grandmother reading Maithili Sharan Gupta’s Hindi poem Yashodhara.
But all this has cut no ice with my daughter who now insists on being called “Isis”, with her friends and some teachers happily obliging. After all, compared to “Isis”, “Yashodhara” is quite a mouthful. Now that she’s in a boarding school in India, the issue has taken a backseat, but I can feel it ripening in the background.
After reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake I’ve been preparing myself for the sad eventuality of my daughter going the Gogol Ganguli way, who changed his name to Nikhil as soon as he turned 18.
“Would you like Tina instead?” I asked her once, in a reluctant effort to meet her half way. Tina, by the way, happens to be her astrological name, which I thought was still better than the alien-sounding “Isis”. “Ti-na? Is that a name?” she replied, rolling her eyes in mock horror.
Sorry Shakespeare…there's a lot in a name.