What's in a Name?

on Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Alot. Got a name like Wasim Singh, you immediately understand he comes from a mixed background. Got a name like A. Yadav, you either strike a bond with him or secretly want to kill him because he and his generations to come will benefit from reservations. Whatever maybe your name, without having you say anything, the other person has already formed a certain opinion about you. People ask little kids and old, what does your name mean? The meaning becomes a part of your personality right away for them. Your name will immediately tell me what religion do you follow, whether you actually follow it or not.

My own name scares me now. I am sick of living in a world full of judgmental assholes who would confirm 'Do you guys actually spit in food and then serve it to your guests?' It astonishes you, surprises you, get to hear alot of new things too. As a kid, I thought I didn't know enough about my religion, but today I do not want to know about any religion. I am anyway not ultra religious, I have my own logistical thinking on every thing that is condemned in my religion or yours. Yet, this religious identity sticks with me.

I did not choose my name, I love it. I did not choose my religion, I have been brought up in a moderate environment and so I do not hate it, yet I very strongly believe in getting rid of this identity. Would changing my name and keeping it only Nabila, help? It would still remain a Persian name with only an added long thread of questions and much more severe judging.

I called a friend three weeks back, stressed, "I am going to make a big decision. This is a life changing decision, but I want to make it..... I want to change my name." I was stopped by not a logical but emotional thought - it was too silly to risk 20 years of strongly rooted relationships. True. I was still living life on my own terms, anyway. I have never been discriminated on the basis of my name. I have not been hurt or privileged either, but I am still being judged by you. Maybe when I started the post, you may have even thought I will share an anecdote of distress and discrimination. I do not have one. I am like most of you, an irregular blogger, a loving daughter, a loyal friend, a caring sister, a trustworthy partner, an avid reader, a music lover, a dreamer, YET I am being judged by you and you by me. My name says I am a Muslim and yours' says something else. For many, I am a Muslim, you a Hindu, Christian, Parsi, Pinjabi, and this probably being your foremost identity, even before your actual name, your profession, your thoughts.

I speak not for myself nor for a community I belong to (which I did not choose but was gifted at birth), but for you and me. Why should even a question as small and as 'normal' as 'So... You are a Kayastha or a Baniya?' or Shia, Sunni, Catholic, Protestant, whatever, come up?

We spend a life 'making an identity of our own' ranting about 'individualism', without realizing, we already have an identity attached by birth which is not just used to address us, fill our forms and hold ration cards, but to add tags to our 'individual' selves.

Whether you care two hoots about where the person comes from or not, you would still know where he comes from when he gives out his name to you. You can even guess the zones and states they come from -THAT is what is in a name. If only we had a nameless world - there would be no Romeo and Juliet, but there would still remain, you and me, as ourselves, as individuals in a chaotic world of no personal identities (like we are any better now..huh..).

For myself, I am ME and YOU are YOU.

Who am I for you?

40 comments:

Standbymind said...

Hey Nabila

This is a real wonderful piece. The way you have put up all this is simply beautiful!

:)

cheers

Kenneth said...

"Individualism" has become a verbal equivalent of a fashion accessory, but "Individuality" if taken seriously, could throw the whole "name judgements" out of the window. (I've now used my entire limit of my brain, assigned to me, for the whole day)

Well Written I**M.

daman kohli said...

my name is also a bit unusual ... and i have written about it earlier in my blog... but it makes me feel different from everyone .... and i love it ... as far as changing the name goes .... i too decided to do it when i was in class v , but some force stopped me .... it's difficult

Amjad Khan said...

I'm Amjad Khan. Aka Gabbar Singh. Sadly, I weigh around 55kgs :S

I remember, this one time, I was at a friend's place, a shia, and when he got the drinks, pepsi as in, he was like (sarcastically) "Don't worry, I didn't spit in em", I was like "Wtf? I know. Ofcourse you didn't :/"
That was one awkward/embarrassing moment.
He is my good friend ^_^

Nabila Zehra Zaidi said...

@ Aman.... Thanks man! Cheers!

@ Kenneth... C******a, you really haven't used all your brains yet made sense... ;)

@ Daman... Change your name in class fifth... ooohhh kay... but it isn't about the peculiarity of a name but the unwanted identities attached to it that makes all the difference...

@ Amjad... 55... I am friggin jealous!! :x

Awkward/Embarrassing... YES!!

᠌L̶f̶A̶n̶A̶g̶a̶᠌ said...

yaah I m also Thinking same

Vinayak said...

very nice blog
gr8 post...
keep it up

Hashan Hazarika said...

My name also a confused one !! heh heh...
very sensible and interesting post!

i write here
http://bakwasdairy.blogspot.com/

Keshi said...

I think a NAME dun mean anything...it's one's ACTIONS that really mean something and defines individuality.


Keshi.

dharmabum said...

being judged is a larger issue, a name, well, it sure does add to the troubles.

manorath said...

judging peopl by names, even i do dat at times.. i feel, a name would def be one of the things one would be identified with.. but then, it gets worse when the generalisation borders on external factors rather than the person who is being judged.. i feel names which give no hint of any religion is an advantage at times..

R3d3MpTioN said...

hey,
Nice blog u've got here.. In this post you actually have got a point. society does judge a person by the name he/she has. We need names, I cannot ever imagine a world without names irrespective of what shakespeare has to say (I worship him otherwise) but the associations have to go ..

kudos for writing about such an important topic so beautifully..

Nabila Zehra Zaidi said...

@ r3d3mption... I wonder what would be a world without names, though... Probably we would spend half our lives in just describing every person... :|

@ manorath... Truly... We all do that... Judging people by names, comes to each one of us so naturally, as if by default. But sadly, every name has been associated with a religion, making it difficult to find a name without religious identities atleast...

@ dharmabum... Exactly!

@ Keshi... I agree! And I only wish there were more people like you... :)

@ hashan hazarika... Thanks! Will visit your page soon! :)

@ vinayak... Thank you for visiting! Hope to see you more often here... :)

@ fanaga... Hhhhhhmmmmmmmm..... ;)

Nishank Mehta said...

I totally agree with whatever has been said in your post...the last names in particular are a strong indication of a person's birth status.

Now, onto something childish but not completely unconnected...I used to play a game with my brother when I was small...we used to LOOK at people passing in the streets and name them according to our whims and their looks...of course the names were never what we guessed...but it was real fun!!

smile-a-mile said...

go ahead girl.....change your name.. am with you.... keep that nabila part, its cute...

am changing faizal ahmed kutty to Johnny Blaze.. that's it.. i have decided

Crazy Diamond said...

Thanks for not changing your name! It is lovely, I love the sound of your name!

For me, you are someone who will always forgive me for changing the url. he he he he he he he

Kisses!

nikita g said...

absolutely!i completely agree wid u.. a name adds a permanent tag on ur identity n ppl unconsciously judge u by ur religious identity or birthplace.. but it is something so ingrained in us dat it might take ages for us2ignore d tag n realise d imporatance of d 'individual'being.

ur post reminds me of that idea ad where people were renamed by their cellphone nos. ..how i wish it ws true!:)
nice blog. kp posting!cheers!

cipher said...

Somehow I love Persian names. What does Nabila mean btw. And I see many beautiful/not so common names amongst people commenting here too.
My point is, why care about what others think. The ones who judge people by name etc. are not our close friends etc. And someone who knows us even slightly would remember us because of what we are and not what our name is.

Impressionist said...

u said it all lady!
that was a wonderful post, u've put up very well!
btw the link for the templates is here

-I

J P Joshi said...

Nabila: You have a lovely name. Don't change it.

Your blog set me thinking.....and here are the facts. Actually when you a meet a person for the first time and are introduced....and you hear the name, the computer in your brain goes into high gear and retrieves just about any relevant information about that name, and this happens so fast, and unthinkingly, that by the time you get to shake hands, one already knows enough, and more, about the person being introduced. Something like Google search. Good or bad, right or wrong...I am not sure yet... will have to think a little more and till then....you write well. Don't ever stop!!!!

J P Joshi said...

I little thought and this is what I have to say.... Yes, when you meet someone for the first time, you do get all this background information about the person from the name, but once you have interacted and got to know the person the name does not matter...you meet the person because you want to meet...and nothing of the name bit matters.

Something like you buy things for the first time because of the slick advertisement, brand name and packaging but buy again only if the product is good thereafter.

So, that's my take on the name bit. I still don't know good or bad, right or wrong. I only said what happens with me.

Luscious Sealed Lips said...

There is no anonymity in a name.

Kisses.

muddleheaded said...

absolutely right...
i know it cuz i had been using a pseudoname in a few magazines just cuz i dont think my own name fits good with the writing stuff... which is mudassar...
keep up the good work... :)

Mannu said...

well, a blog quite ahead for your age( or maybe just in time !!). but i got to think about these just when i was around 25. now i m 28(guessing what you would infer from that!)nevermind. names are quite a telltale..be they be so..so that's what they are mean't for. the middlename was suppose to tell the quality of the individual. and the last name--of his linage. the first name is his supposedly unique call-sign, but now no more unique in this sea of humanity.
** People have a right to infer things from one's name. Just, they need to grow up to understand the limits of their Judgements**. i argued with myself for quite long whether man can live without being judgemental, and I set forth this law of nature that it's just NOT POSSIBLE. All that we can do is to learn the art and science of making a right decision.
Time does require us to overthrow the regime of revealing names by adopting more common name.
But not as common as "Kumar"..else u are marked either a Bihari or a UP-bhaiya!!
in my heart too, u are You and I am me.
cheers.

muddleheaded said...

hey i have updated my blog...
plz chek in :)

http://muddleheaded.wordpress.com

have added u in my blogroll.. can u do the same?

NoSiNneD said...

nice post.....u do have a lovely persian name....its sounds unique since i havnt heard of it before........im Dennison and use it as my blogger name, only thing its backwards....NoSinned.....

Dream Runner said...

haha.. i have to say this.. my name extends to both genders and very often im tht of being someone complteley diff.. and yet iam questioned why i have that name.. is it really that imp...it dsnt change my life in anyway and neither those who are intrigued by it..but yet we give them their undeserved importance..

Mirchii said...

...how little do I know of my own, dearest nibbi

Niraj said...

hi Nabila..good to see you in full flow again..as usual, a very impressive post!

I am the light within said...

they copied all they could copy but they bcould not copy your mind..n u left them fuming a yr end half behind...
wat a beautiful piece of work.

MeMyself_n_I said...

You are so very right. Even though i claim to be liberated, so to speak, i unconsciuosly categorise people on the basis of their names. I'm not proud of it, but i do it.

That's why i'm nameless in the blogging world. This way people can't form opinions about me before reading about me. :-)

monstermayank said...

A good thought, a lot like which simmers in me but don't you think changing a name is the fall of people like you or us?Many a times ppl ask me wats my gotra or castee sometimes i tell them sometimes I ask them why they are asking it but all of the time my mind screams,"how does it matter to you?if you want to know if i m a muslim,I am a muslim.If u want to know if I am a shudra,i am a shudra.I am whatever u hate the most." but most of the time we dont want to be rude to others and elder[who specifically ask that].But yeah i'll never lie to them.

workhard said...

Hi Nabila.. really nice post.. i guess people become judgemental when they hear your name..


Haiku Poems

Iti said...

I remember when I was a kid my fellow mates asked me "What are you,Iti?"
"A Hindu" I would say. "Hindu, alright...but what caste?" they would then ask. And I would be astonished. I knew that I am a Hindu because we prayed to Hindu Gods. I didn't know anything beyond that. I didn't know what a baniya or a brahmin is.I still don't know much, but now I know that it shouldn't matter.

Great post. Very, very full of things to ponder upon

Anurag Kumar Lucknow said...

you have a beautiful name keep it that way!

Golden Vulture said...

heyy you write so well my friend .. :) that was a pretty good topic to write about :) :)

Have a blessed day :) keep smiling :)

shashank said...

If people like you continuously stand up for things like this the day will soon come when we would be identified as human only. I am privileged to read ur post.

Carry on this work with more zeal as there are lots of people behind u with the same temperament and they would stand by u for any such endeavour.

Nice ............. I think I am not getting words to appreciate what have you written.

Dreamzzzzzzzzz Unlimited said...

Lady im smitten by your posts..........amazing stuff,never thought in such a realistic manner and simple thing on identifying an individual.....im falling in love with you!!!!!!

Shahid Ansari said...

nice and sensitive piece ...

monica said...

hey nabila.. nice and real stuff... Love the way u write :)....