What’s in a name?


Hi, I am Siji and my name doesn’t have a meaning.

Almost always without fail I’ll be asked the question.. what’s the meaning of your name? When I was young, bombarded with this question and not able to answer , left me embarrassed on most occasions. Why couldn’t mom and dad just google a little bit more and keep my name. I always felt mom dad must be playing scrabble one day and the next day i popped out and hence the name. I  felt envious of people whose names were simple enough to explain- adarsh, priya, palak etc. everyone will explain their names’ meaning and sit proudly , while I will say “I don’t know” and be laughed at. I will sulk and retreat to the corner.

This may sound weird to many but I spent most of childhood rebelling with my parents for a name change. I used to yell at my mom -“wait till I grow up..and I’ll keep a much better name than this”.  My mom will always say “whats in a name?”. I’ll say  “easy for you to say.. you have an excellent name “Raichel”- not only did it sound nice, it’s also a biblical name!”

So when I was in 5th I pledged to have a meaning for my name. I came up with a meaning on my own “Gods grace”as it couldn’t be verified *wink*. Ha! Now every time someone asked my names’ meaning, I’ll hold my head high and tell them this and they nodded in approval and gave me a smile as if to tell my mom and dad ‘Well done!’.

But as lies goes. The feel-good factor din’t last long.

Then I came across a book “Namesake”-by Jhumpa Lahiri. It’s about a child whose dad kept a name “Gogol”for him. The boy feels embarrassed during earlier stages of his life and changes his  name. Later, after his dads death, he comes to know that his dad was saved by the book written by that author “Gogol” when he had a near death experience. So the name was reallyyyy close to his heart.

No, nothing like that for my parents.

So why am telling you all this? Because by reading this book I came to know, IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER – -the name you get from your parents. What sense does it make if your parents gave you a name ‘Sundar’(adjective in hindi signifying attractive, beautiful, good, handsome or nice) and you are not !

What happens if your parents gave you name ‘Daya’(word in hindi stands for compassion, sympathy) and you don’t feel kind on most days.

Or ‘Kush’(word in hindi stands for happiness) and you don’t feel happy most of the time…

I thought to myself –better to have a name that doesn’t have a meaning than having something ..you are not. Fast forward few years , am in consensus with my name and I have officially  made peace with it– literally! I spell out my name to people who don’t understand it ” S-I-J-I”. I repeat my name slowly to let them grasp my name.

Taking an excerpt from a book by Lewis Carroll:

Must a name mean something?’ Alice asked doubtfully.

‘Of course it must,’ Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: ‘my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.’

How thoughtful! isn’t it? You can be anything you want to be and not restricted by ‘labels’ parents placed on you when you were born. That’s the beauty of name which has no meaning. 😀

Now, I smile and tell people that my name doesn’t have a meaning.