Ever thought of it? What if we lived in a world where people had no names?
I am appalled that a lot of Indians are crying hoarse about Bollywood stars Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ail Khan naming their new born son Taimur. To comment on someone’s name is sad and intrusive enough; to hold a discourse on how people should name their children and give the entire story a communal twist is pathetic. It is both insensitive and totally avoidable.
The couple appears to have named their son so because in Arabic Taimur means “iron”. But people on social media are trolling the couple and, worse, some are alluding to the fact that the Khans don’t have a right to call their child Taimur because his name reminds Indians of the barbarbic Mongol conqueror who, when invading India in the 14th century, massacred several thousand Indians, almost all of them, allegedly, Hindus.
To me, this episode smacks of a holier-than-thou attitude. It is a case of poor social etiquette. Why are we, as a people, are always interested in the affairs of others? What right do we have to opine on the right of parents to call their child what they want? If the name is culturally a misfit, then the consequence of their choice rests with the parents and the child. If anyone at all must protest his name, it is Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi. And at barely a day old, he’s incapable just yet of either defending his name or heeding society’s sage counsel. Isn’t it petty then that we rubbish a new born who can’t yet speak for himself? So, please, let us leave him and his parents to enjoy each other. And let’s not offer an opinion just because we have access to a smartphone and a social media handle!
I also don’t believe in this theory that people must live up to what their names stand for. That’s asking for too much from people. Let people just be. And let names just be too.
A name is a name. Having a name one way or the other doesn’t change who you are. On a spiritual plane, a name is just an id. If you didn’t have a name, you won’t have a means of being identified among the 7.5 billion people that inhabit the world. In fact, should the whole world choose to go nameless, much of the problems we as humanity face today will be gone! There won’t be a need for religions and nationalities. We will just be one, united world. To be sure, no other species on the planet has names – or, consequentially, religions and nationalities. If we can borrow from Life around us, we too can be a great people that live and thrive with each other, namelessly, without religions and without passports!
I wish this were true. But alas, we will live in a real world that believes in naming and, as we so often discover, in shaming! I talk from experience. When our son was born in New Delhi in July 1990, my parents traveled from Chennai to be there for his naming ceremony. My mother demanded that we don’t name him Aashirwad and instead insisted that we name him Vishal. I fought my mother vehemently, violently and decided to go with the choice Vaani and I had made – he is a blessing in our Life, so he was, is and will be Aashirwad! But just as no one asked you and me how we prefer to be named, no one asked Aashirwad either. Maybe if he had been able to exercise his rightful choice, he may have preferred a totally different name. Just as you and I would have preferred it too. From that experience, I realized that ultimately, naming a child is a ritual. And for reasons of process ownership, the parents have the right of first decision, always! But eventually, a child will, if required, exercise her or his right to either live with or shun the given name. I, for one, gave up my given name. AVIS started off being my nickname. But because I don’t relate to my given name anymore, I have chosen to live with my nickname as my first name! (PS: Why I don’t relate to my given name is another story, for another day! Plus, I love being called AVIS! J)
Therefore, to me, all this drama around young Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi is totally ludicrous. There’s so much more about our own Life that demands our urgent, immediate, attention than giving our unsolicited opinions on someone else’s child’s name! Think about it deeply. Hopefully, it makes sense!
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