Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We Bengalis have this weird obsession with names. While people from most other regions of the country get through life with one name, Bengalis have atleast two.One “Bhalo Naam” or the official name that adorns certificates, exercise books’ labels, etc. One could say the “Bhalo Naam” is the “written” name. While “Daak Naam”, on the other hand, is the pet name used by the family or its equivalents and childhood friends. It is, quite literally, the “called” name. (“daak” means “to call” and “naam” is “name”)
I have had a love-hate relationship with my pet name. Admittedly it is not as embarrassing as the run-of-the-mill Buri, Mummum, Mou etc, but I never really got too fond of it. What is really interesting is this strange sense of comfort that one begins to associate with one’s pet name.
Somewhere down the line, I guess I have begun to cherish being called by my pet name and perhaps, also the people who call me by it. There’s this odd sense of reassurance when you meet an old friend who introduces you to his friends by your pet name or when, in an alien city, in the middle of a market with people who only call you by your “bhalo naam”, someone suddenly calls out your pet name. Though I’ve often been embarrassed by such loud greetings, I admit that there has always been an accompanying sense of ease in knowing that there’s someone who has seen me in my most basic self-perhaps with my braces on or with my ugly middle-school girl bob. It is with these people I can laugh out loud or maybe walk around in my pajamas.
The sad part, however, is that as we grow older, the number of people who call us by our pet name decreases. Grandparents pass away, grand aunts grow amnesiac and para friends drift apart. That is when, to reclaim that little piece of memory that “growing up” consumed, we smile each time someone-anyone-calls us by the name that appeared on the envelopes our family gifted money in or the name that our playmates shouted out below our balconies to announce the arrival of another evening that was meant to be spent playing-completely unaware of the days when this very name would betray its nomenclature and be rarely called.

P.S: i am sorry for not having blogged for so long.let's hope this is the end of my step motherly treatment for my blog.

19 comments:

namrata basu said...

this is very true. now that i have read your post, i realize that there are just a handful people left who still call me by my nickname. a wonderful take on something we do not pay much attention to...and yes.do blog more often.it's a delight to read your posts.

rh3a said...

u just express so well! :)
there's always such an old-world charm associated to ur blog! the little little nuances of our culture that u bring out are jus wonderful!
good to have u back.. here's a first hello from an old follower!
take care :)

Vagabond said...

Lovely comeback post! Please do write regularly. :)

Neel said...

another lovely post. your flow is so spontaneous and beautiful. You can bring out very poignant feeling very easily. And finally I have begun to notice a distinctive style riya! Congratulations! This post have started to make me think of my pet name and how I have reacted being called by my pet name. I love being called by my pet name. am very fond of it!

sujaan said...

lovely post! :) glad that i'm of those who still use ur daaknaam :)

but the daaknaam sounds nice only from familiar voices, not always from new ones... donno why...

little boxes said...

'new' people hardly use daak naam.that's way it's with me.

~Moo-lah Buz!nezzz~ said...

haha,my daak naam is tutai...and i absolutely love it more than my bhaalo naam.,....i have special designated signature for it as well...

Casuarina said...

"completely unaware of the days when this very name would betray its nomenclature..." - a lovely way of capturing in words what I have often thought of but never been able to express so well.

Baba calls me 'Bodo Maa'(yes, I do have a sibling !) and Ma calls me 'Mamoni'. I thought the two 'daak naam'-s were singularly plain and didn't respect them. Until now, when I'm married, live elsewhere, and can no longer take for granted the easy familiarity of those same names. Now I recall those many times I've absentmindedly/grudgingly answered to those names and wish there had been more demonstrative affection in my replies.

Alas.

Elendil said...

Try being stuck with a daak naam like mine. It's the most common name for big, hairy, pet dogs. All sentiment would vanish. :P

Magically Bored said...

I love my daak name - it's short and sweet, and I respond to it much better than my bhalo naam.
95% of my friends call me Tuna, and thank God for it.
Lovely post.
:-)

reema said...

u wrote with sooo much of affection.. like when we are 8 and we part from our beloved milk teeth one by one.. and bury them with remorse and grief for the dead! :P

very endearing. got me all gooey!

P.S like the whole step mother imagery..! lol

Suchismita said...

Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog....loved this post of yours...keep writing....

Suchi

Lucid Darkness said...

The sentiment seems right out of The Namesake. :) I guess all Bongs have a love=hate relationship with their "pet names". Hehe. Nice post.

the soliloquist said...

I hate my daak naam. It's one of those weird Bengali names which have no meaning whatsoever.
But I love the post.

Astraeus said...

ha ha
how right thou are ;-)
P.S: Blog comments back just to let yu know

Rahul Saha said...

I'm always amused when I am asked for my "good name" in Calcutta.

Revived Angel... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revived Angel... said...

thanks for writing abt sumthing whch is so close to us yet never given any special thought about.its a pleasure for me to gt addresssed by my 'daak naam'..more,since it hs a meaning,unlike most pet names..its payel.I love to use it in evn email IDs..good names r just for letting knw d "new" people who it is..lovely post!And do blog often..

Sumana said...

Liked Your blog....so true that our Daak Naam gets lost in the tangles of time, as we lose our grand parents, parents and para friends drift away, that old name with its old charm is forgotten. Few people now call me with my pet-name which was Ma's favourite. Now that she's no more that adoring call is also missed ! Our fascination with the Daak Naam will continue to mesmerize hopefully!