Shakespeare didn’t think it mattered to give a name to his play, but the play still was given a name – As you like it.
Every entity, every place, every person has a name and with it comes an identity. What happens when this name is violated – misused or mispelt? The implications could be small or big, but whatever they might be, people cannot take it easy. The aggression is justified, as your identity cannot be played with. People have difficulties in learning names and very often they forget the fact that learning to pronounce other’s names is as important as we expect the others to know ours.
Very often, I find many people calling or writing my name wrong. When it comes to my surname, I am yet to come across someone new who has got it right in the first instance. It is justified if a foreigner who is not aware of the Indian pronunciations and words happens to pronounce the name wrong. But, I cannot understand why my own folks have such an issue. To my parent’s credit, my first name is quite a simple name, with three English consonants, each separated by a single vowel ‘a’. My surname also runs on more or less similar lines. The north Indians write it as ‘Mansa’ or ‘Manasi’ and many of the south Indians or all have their own way of writing my surname, ‘Pama Raju’ (when it is a single word) or ‘Rama Raju’ or the best and the most common one is ‘Padmaraju’ (I wonder where did that ‘D’ come from).
My sister has her own issues with her name. Being the youngest in the family, she was christened with names contributed by every important member of the family. She finally ended with seven unofficial names and among them, three were adopted as official. She prefers to be known by just one simple name, followed by our surname. Quite justified, but in order to achieve the correction, it is a long and dedicated process that she needs to endure. My husband too makes his presence felt, with his surname – ‘Ayalasomayajula’. It is quite a long one and many just give up trying to read it, even before trying. Trust me, if you have not tried reading it, then just do it once, it is quite simple and just lengthy. He says that his name is a point of discussion in every new meeting that he attends.
I am sure that each one of us would have had some issues with people, calling our names in their own sweet ways, but it’s truly irritating sometimes. I think that this happens primarily because of the lack of attention that one pays to listening or reading a person’s name. With my experiences, I put in the extra effort to learn to pronounce any of the tough names I come across. Most often, I realize that the person is more than happy that I am trying to learn their name right.
So Shakespeare, sir, I think there is a lot in a name and we need to be attentive with them :).
PS: I have a very bad habit of christening my immediate family and friends with pet-names. I know that some of them are not too happy with them, but I do it because I love you all 🙂 and not for any other reason.