Reverb 10.23: What’s In A Name?

This is a novel Reverb10 prompt and I’m afraid it needs me to do a little thinking. I’d fallen into the habit of ‘default writing’ with the last few repetitive prompts.

December 23 – New Name

Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

(Author: Becca Wilcott)

I never liked my name as a child. Nobody managed to spell or pronounce it right. People added to my misery by droning ‘Ramaiyya-vasta-vaiiyya’ each time I was around. Ha-bloody-ha, it stops being funny after the first million-odd times. One of the first things I’d do, I decided, when I turned eighteen, would be to change my name.

My father listened to my woes and nodded gravely. “Your name, you do what you like with it after you’re an adult” was his policy. When I whined about having to wait, he pacified me with the story of how the name came to be.

When I was in creation and little less than a shapeless lump on the obstetrician’s screen, my parents sent out for applications for baby names. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone who could claim to offer a suggestion were consulted and asked to send their list of names. Dad, ever meticulous, compiled all those lists. Names were chucked if they were:

  • More than three syllables long
  • Had strong religious connotations
  • Were too common

And based on the remaining names, a top five list was compiled and circulated to the consulted parties. Dad and mum made their additions to the list. Apparently a name that gained great favour in the process was Aishwaryalakshmi (the goddess of wealth, prosperity, bounty). Thankfully for me, dad rejected it outright since it failed on his first two criteria. He also added that in all probability no one would use that name and it would end up being shortened to Ayesha, a name that no one else liked because they thought it sounded too Muslim/North-Indian. Personally, I quite like the name Ayesha. It has a nice ring to it, is not terribly girly, is not too region-specific. But the family was adamant.

After much deliberation and around the time I was ready to make my debut, they finally managed to agree on a name and thus my birth certificate was inscribed Ramya. It is a Sanskrit word and means a number of things including beauty, pleasantness and grace. But my favorite interpretation of the word and the one that dad really homed in on, is harmony. Thus it represents music, balance and aesthetics, all in one.

Somehow by the time I was eighteen, other things took precedence. I guess I also grew to like my name. I am Ramya, after all, it is me. I’m finicky about people pronouncing and spelling my name right (and you won’t believe how many people don’t!). It is a nice name and it defines me.

Of course, my blogging identity has revolved around the name of IdeaSmith. That wasn’t something that had quite as much thought put into it but it fit well enough. People abbreviate it sometimes to Smithy or IS or even just Idea.

I’ve had a number of nicknames over the years, in the manner of all human beings subjected to the horrific experience of school. Rambo (from my waterbottle’s sticker), Ramiyuzz, Rum-yum (my gang was going through a ‘Sanskritum’ phase where every word was appended with an ‘-um’) Ramses and Rum-yeah!. They’re all funny derivatives of my name and I don’t mind them so much anymore. Funnily enough, those names have come to become a part of me as I’ve taken on characteristics ascribed to them. Yes, I tend to be a bit of a macho-girl, I have a thing about mythology and rum is my favorite drink.

I’ve rambled on and still not answered the question. I can’t imagine what I’d call myself if not one of these things. I guess just about any name that doesn’t connect to, or derive from this one would do, just for the novelty of it. Let’s see…

  • Ranjani (because ‘i’ ending girl names always sound nice to me)
  • Shloka or Moksha (semi-religious I know, but I like the sound of both of them)

I can’t think of another name but here are some criteria I’d like to list. Ideas, anyone for names?

  • A gender-neutral name
  • An Indian-sounding name (not necessarily Hindu, just Indian)
  • One with an unusual sound in it like ‘z’
  • One that represents an interesting idea. Musical references would be good too.
  • No goddesses names
  • Nothing that could be mangled with too many/too few vowels
  • 2-3 syllables

2 thoughts on “Reverb 10.23: What’s In A Name?

  1. haha.. I can relate to itt…somehow… esp after reading the namesake. P.S I also have the same dilemma with people calling me Srinivasan instead of Srinivas… and then they also wonder how I’m a Kulkarni and not a maharashtrian…Too much confusion for fact just yesterday I thought of legally changing my name also to srinistuff…but that would be too much hah?

    So I stick with Srini now πŸ˜‰

    1. @Srinistuff: If it works for you. I’ve made my peace with the fact that I’m going to have to keep struggling against the world mangling my name. Srinistuff would be different. πŸ™‚

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