From religions to literature, flowers to fruits, places to rivers, films to heroes – we have walked a long way playing with words
Family, name and happiness
Some may say, what's in a name? But Bengalis are very romantic about names. Every time a little one emerges in a mortal shape, the entire family shoots a confetti of names. From websites listing baby names to books of names, family members exhaust all the avenues to find a sweet, well-meaning name for the newborn.
The nickname hassles!
Some days ago, Mr Rahat Islam, manager of a renowned private bank invited some of his colleagues over his place. However, his grandparents, with no ulterior motive at all, ended up calling him Boltu in front of the guests. The unbending boss Rahat Islam felt embarrassed. After-all, a boss can be anything but Boltu!
Some nicknames like Puchu or Babai are mostly meaningless words, but often reflecting affection. However, cases are plenty when someone is taunted, being embarrassed, or mocked, simply because they have a funny nickname!
But for sure, there are but a few people who didn't have to go through these nickname hassles.
Under the shield of goodness
The names addressing religious references have always been heartening for us. To imbue the child's heart with a sense of unmatched kindness and good-will, family often tends to come under the shield of heroic, altruistic characters.
With the hope that sense of goodness carried by the name will define the person's character, names from the holy Quran are warmly received among Muslims. Hindu parents have an affinity with names of mythological characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Dr Sushmita Chakrabarty, professor of Folklore department of the University of Rajshahi feels that "a child does not get to decide its own name, the family does. Some choose to keep a sacred religious name." She also feels that nowadays a lot of parents prefer giving their child a neutral name with deep meaning. "No matter the pattern of the name, every name has a story behind it," she points out.
My hero, my name!
Somewhere around the 90s, people were hijacking names of political leaders and popular stars. Late actor Salman Shah was an inspiration behind many kids named in the 90s. Prior to that, during the 60s, revolution was in the air. Lenin became a sought-after name. Political figures like Tito and Saddam also presided over many households where the children's names echoed the parent's idols.
Travel-dairy of names
Kyoko Bhuiyan was born in Japan. Her name may be misleading; she is not a Japanese. Her parents named her after the wonderful woman they met there who happened to be her godmother. After all these years, Kyoko cherishes her bonding with Japan even today, through her name.
"My short-lived romance with Japan was just for a year. My name still connects us. I watch out for Japanese movies, books and even food!" she says.
Arthur's mother went to France when she was pregnant with him and fell in love with the great French poet Arthur Rimbaud's poems. She decided to name her son after him then and there. Therefore, although Arthur Islam has never been to France, his name carries the glint of distant land and culture.
The travel diary of names would not be any less colourful if written. New names continue to be tagged on human beings and travel through many cities, countries and continents.
Troubles of common names
On the other day, a teacher called for Babu in the class. Some four Babus responded, "Yes, miss?" Needless to say, the teacher herself was completely at a loss which Babu she was looking for.
While some put up with the troubles of having an overly common name, a lot of people learn to live with having their names constantly mispronounced, misspelt. Basabdatta, a university student, who is usually proud of her ancient Sanskrit name, is now accustomed to responding to Basa (home) Datta with a wearied smile.
Name, name where you at?
Plato Chakma is an engineering student, Newton Barua is a topper of Sociology discipline. Plato could not pull it off to become another philosopher, because he did not want to. Newton and his physics remained a far cry. Guess, names are no guaranty for success.
Arthur went for a job interview the other day. The interviewer asked,
"What kind of a name is that? Does such a name exist?"
Arthur answered, "I can't tell about the name sir, but I exist and I am competent."
From religions to literature, flowers to fruits, places to rivers, films to heroes – we have walked a long way playing with words. What's true about names is that aesthetically or linguistically names are not constant, but, as little Aadil so affirmatively puts, "The goodness and strength of heart are."