‘Name’. Something we are given (with no choice in the matter), a tag we carry all our lives and to our graves. I find it strange how parents name their kids without worrying about the repercussions, explains Heart Ranajan... Oops, Hriday Ranjan
BENGALURU: Indira Gandhi is Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter’s ___________?. We have all heard this riddle, and scratched our heads in confusion the first time we heard it. The answer is ‘Indira Gandhi is Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter’s ‘name’.
‘Name’. Something we are given (with no choice in the matter), a tag we carry all our lives and to our graves. I find it strange how parents name their kids without worrying about the repercussions.
I have a friend named Dimple. And as luck would have it, she does have a dimple! Not two (for that would make her Dimples!), but one dimple. But that was just luck, We carry our names with us wherever we go.
When it comes to names, I have a writing name (Hriday Ranjan), a blog name (Heartranjan), and if I ever get published - an author name - S.H. Ranjan. I also have an ‘alias’ at work, a funny name to give to someone who works for you.
My real name though, is Sai Hrudaya Ranjan. My father is Odiya, and my mother Telugu - the name they gave me cuts the umbilical cord of traditional nomenclature. I do not carry my mother’s region in the name - as is common among Telugus. Nor does my name carry my father’s caste and traditional occupation. It just exists as a modern amalgam of two cultures.
But my Odiya roots have resulted in a particular phenomenon. Odiya parents like to give their kids embarrassing pet names. All my friends from childhood are called Chimpa, Kalia, Babuna, Rosy, and Babyna. You could be Shashi Tharoor or Milind Soman - if you’re born in an Odiya family, you will be called ‘Chimpa’ all your life.
And Yours Truly has the worst pet name in the history of pet names - Puppu! It means nothing, and achieves little except raising strangers’ eyebrows. Growing up, I was embarrassed about my pet name - it is difficult to be ‘cool’ when you’re called ‘Puppu’.
I would be chilling with friends, when suddenly a voice from the kitchen would call out - ‘Aye Puppu!’. The name Puppu throws up no Google results - which means I might be the only recipient of this sorry name. In fact, I do not need UID or Aadhar - the name Puppu is unique enough!
As I grew up, I dropped the ‘Sai’ from my name after turning into an atheist. A few years later, I dropped the ‘a’ in my middle name and adopted the more homogeneous, acceptable name - Hriday Ranjan. Hriday works as a pet name too, and solves the problem I’d been facing all my life. I have literally made a name for myself in the world. When people tell me, ‘Hey nice name!’, I respond with a ‘Thanks, I’ve earned it!’.
I used to work as a teacher a few years back, and I found that kids of today are given short, modern names like Aarav and Kyra. These are names that double up as pet names too, and the kids do not have to go through the intense Shaktimaan-Gangadhar double-identity that kids in Odisha had to.
My journey from Puppu to Sai Hrudaya Ranjan to Hriday Ranjan has been a long and arduous journey, and I often get miffed when I hear the phrase - ‘What’s in a name?’
Well, it’s easy for you to say that, dear sire! You were named William Shakespeare. You will never know the trauma of carrying an embarrassing pet name, hoping your friends don’t get a whiff of it.
If your name was Sai William Shakespeare, dear sire, I doubt you would make that statement. Or if your name was William Puppu, dear sire, I doubt very much you would even be the same person!