A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
A quote that is commonly used to mean it doesn’t really matter what name is used, what matters is what something is. The original quote is from William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is more telling:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
I have many names..well, different versions of two different names….
I was named by my maternal grandmother.
Being born into a bi-religious family (my dad a Roman Catholic and my mom a Hindu) and having only my maternal grandmother around, the rest of my grandparents having passed on way before my parent’s got married, the usual Hindu rites were done before I was named. Usual basically means date and time of birth were presented to the priest at a temple, who would then do some calculations and stuff before presenting the new parents with the recommended “sound of the first syllable” which the newborn will carry for the rest of it’s life. Well…that’s what I presume happened 😉
So having the sound of that first syllable to play around with my grandmother came up with the name that got stamped on my birth certificate and from then on all official documentation; and one that I should have been toting around for the rest of my life. The name was:
Then, for some unknown reason (I never have actually asked my mother why this happened) my grandmother started calling me by a completely different name. And you know, grandmothers rule! Well, in my family she did, so everyone followed suite. I can’t even say that it was a shortened version of my “official name” and neither was it a middle name. It’s like she plucked it out of thin air as she was sitting out on the verandah having her daily cheroot one morning. That name was:
Then I had to go to school, and there Jeyashree became shortened to:
Then my dad took me, my birth date, time and chart to see a friend of his who was an awesome numerologist/ palmist and he suggested that to ensure his first born brought good fortune to herself career-wise she had to be called:
Some where in between the Jeya and the Shree, my sister grew up and had her own friends who called her Jeya. To differentiate the Jeya who was their friend and the Jeya who was her sister, they started using the name my sister used for me:
Once I finished with my studies and was forced into “adulthood”, I had a prefix attached to the “good fortune” name. So I became:
Then I got married….and for some strange, unknown reason it never occurred that I needed to change my name like a “good” wife should. In fact, like a blessing from the heavens no one actually insisted that I have a name change. It was also easier when we got a divorce.
So there it is. To some I am Jeyashree, to others as Jeya, then others as Anita, another group as Ani, at work as Dr. Shree and over here as Shree. What I find quite cool is that when someone who has always called me by one name starts calling me by another I get confused. Otherwise I could be in a room with someone calling out “Ani!” and another calling out “Jeya!”; and no confusion ensues…on my part at least. As long as each calls me by the name they have always used.
Am I the same person or am I different depending on what name I’m “playing”? I feel I’m the same. It’s not so much the name as the role I play that makes me just a little “different” – if I’m the friend, the sister, the daughter , the blogger or the doctor. Does this mean that I’m not truly myself all of the time?I can honestly say that I actually think I’m not!
I’m not all of myself all of the time BUT like a cut jewel refracting light I am the sum of all those parts that I show and then some. And aren’t we all that way too? No matter what name, label or role we are, it is the sum of all the parts that make the whole.
Sometimes though I wonder. Does having too many different names or variations of a name have another side to it? Could it be a sign of a sort of fragmentation within myself , an escape to not totally own who I am? A sense of fear that makes me think that if the me who is named Anita isn’t “good enough” then Shree could be, so I had better keep both…or all ? Could it be that the reason why I introduce myself as either Anita, Jeya or Shree; and not stick to one, is because I fear that a part of me would be “lost” if I have to choose? Or…could it just be that my mind has wandered off a little too far wondering about my many names?
How many names are you known by? Do you introduce yourself with different the different versions depending on whom it is you meet, or in what situation you first meet? I’m really curious to know!
This post is in conjunction with the International Label Day. Rara from rarasaur is “hosting” this on her blog.
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