It is Sunday night. Picking up after the kids this evening, I noticed Ammu’s school bag open. A folder lay half outside. I picked it up and smiled as I saw the project that they had worked on before start of school inside it. It had to do with a licence plate of sorts with letters and numbers that stood for something unique to them. As we worked on it, Ammu, Pattu and I, we found a way to sneak in that they were twins, their birthday and a part of their middle name. I put it back and zipped the bag up before stowing it away. Late at night, responding to comments, I realized I had promised to make a post out of a comment.
I have a fascination with names. Each time I hear about the birth of a baby, a new venture or a pet, my first question usually is “What is the name?” This stems from years of trying to understand mine. Questions about who I am and where I come from. I think of myself as creating wealth not necessarily the material kind. I think of prosperity. I think of all things good and happy. In a way, I think that my name is part of who I am and my personality.
Naturally, when it came time to name my children, I did not treat it lightly. I had one name in mind from early on in my marriage but since we were having twins and because they were of a different race, I had to rethink my whole idea. I wanted their names to reflect their birth heritage as well as the one in which they will be raised. I struggled with the ordering of the names. I wanted to retain what they had since birth yet I knew it would help my family to call them by names that were familiar to them. I wanted to stay away from religious underpinnings. I also did not want to saddle them with names that implied they had to live up to some character trait. I wanted the names to be short. I wanted the names to reflect the part of India I came from. As if this list was not enough, I wanted their names to be ones they could Anglicize or shorten and ones that could not be used to bully.
Tall order right? It took a surprisingly short while to come up with them. I went with Indian first names, retained their birth names as their middle names and used our surname. Ammu is a tribute of sorts, Pattu is the name of a river. I hope as they grow up, they straddle both their identities with the same ease as which they do their lives.
When Laddu came along, I went back to the very first name I heard and loved. I was not sure of its meaning but some digging around proved that it was perfect for her and for us. She is named for a raga. It is one that does not obey the rules. Unfettered is what I felt when I heard it and that is what I hope she will be. Her middle name is a tribute to my mother in law. By naming my child after her, I hope she will live on in our midst.
So, do you have a naming story to share? I’d love to hear.