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.