What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet is a popular reference to William Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet . Shakespeare would have loved visiting my small village that has the most colorful names, its like as if the naming squad decided to pay homage to the Britishers who ruled us and just left all of us with complexes to have the white, fair skin and the best ode naming them after the gora log. So, one ambitious lady who wanted to out do the rest of the women, named her son Bladder. Bladder is the best cow-help we have, he can coax milk out of the most stubbornness’ of them.
His name as you can see is contradictory or on some levels an indicator to milking.
What must his mother be thinking when she named him this? Does she know what it means? I don’t think so. There is another tall, old, with a flowing beard Gursikh gentleman who works on the farm is in charge of the planting is quite senior in the hierarchy whose name is, Phanni. Yes, you heard it; it’s a funny name.
This person is extremely religious, makes annual trips to the gurudwaras and is a devout Sikh. He’s been a Phanni all his life and now has grandchildren who go to English schools.
The measure of success in Punjab is how well you speak English, to ape all mannerisms, to be a pseudo- intellectual with complete disdain for its rural identity. The culture, the identity and the ethos of what we stand for, has changed as we try to embrace a culture that is not ours.
At first we gave up wearing our clothes, and simultaneously the language we speak. In fact, it is a matter of grave concern if you can’t speak English and have an accent that is pronounced Punjabi and is pendu. Also, heaven forbid, if you wear Punjabi clothes and don’t wear the western attire. I have had ladies express horror and sadness that I lived in a village
And they wondered how I commuted to the city. It also doesn’t help that I wear suits and have hair that goes in a bun. And isn’t colored to suit the rainbow. I don’t have the requisite streaking you see.
They also wondered what I did in the evenings. There are William , Nathaniel all who live in the next village , who have the best waiters in town. I wonder, how many Alices ,Preety , who is pretty , by the way have a life that the Alice’s of the west have.
We name our children with a hope that the names influence their destiny but sometimes all the names chosen go astray. Issac of the next village is Issak now. It doesn’t end there, Lot became lutta , and Same became Semaa , the best green fingers doctor. It is how ever another story that he is a reformed drug addict who had a mild problem, is forever in need of money but can coax life out of a dead plant also. He has magical green fingers.
The old fashioned names which were synonymous of Punjab, have given to names that are modern, short. We all try to blend in, to blend into a nameless, faceless society that has lost its will , identity and has forgotten to be proud. We are in fact a, society that is looking for answers from outside, and love blaming the ill wills to a fast paced virtual life that is so far away from the problems that plague us. Embracing oneself, bing proud of one’s heritage and sticking to the old fashion values that we had would lead us out of the problems of corruption that has seeped into the fabric. Naming a child with a fancy schmancy name isn’t deliverance, deliverance starts by the values, morals and the valor of yesteryear and don’t let it be relegated to monuments only . Till then , we have trivial twitter debates on Taimur’s name and the recent ugly spat of Hrithik and Kangana!