Thursday, September 12, 2013

What's in a name?

This post was in the making ever since Brags posted about his name. Many of us have our own name stories, usually the miseries that come with it because some people just cannot the name right. So here is my story.

I was named Clement Karthick and I had an initial for most of my school days. Now I have not got any conclusive answers from my parents on the origins of my name, the Clement was straight forward, my dad chose the name and maybe he thought that the virtue of clemency will be my calling right through so that was a good enough reason. The second part lent itself to the usual “Oh! Are you a Christian? After pondering over the name and the almost oxymoronic effect it offers. 

Karthik is undeniably a Hindu name and its etymology leads to confusion. The polite ones do not ask me any questions; the curious ones cannot restrain themselves and ask me why I am named thus. My usual answer is that the name was a favourite of my uncle and so I got it; though sometimes I wonder if I should have a more interesting answer.

You may wonder what can go wrong with a nice normal name like Clement; nothing much until people start messing up the name. Clement has just 7 letters and has only one spelling all other combinations are aberrations. I have endured element, lement, cement, cloment … Sigh. While the written name may be passed off as a typo when you hear the name mutilated over the telephone especially by a telecaller you search for something to throw at the person and then realizing that you are on the phone grit your teeth and correct them.

The written word also threw me a challenge, when you notice the intrusion of a ‘c’ in my second name. This was a mystery to me and I did not notice it till one day the officer in the passport office threw out my application stating name mismatch. I was stunned to find that my school joining certificates had one spelling and my school leaving certificate had an additional ‘c’ and nobody knew who made the typo. So I had to endure with it right through.

The last bit of my name, the initial was being expanded in so many application forms including my jobs that it remained expanded so much so that my middle name got lost somewhere in between. So now it is now Clement Williams and it does become a challenge when you do not notice someone addressing you as Mr Williams, it took a lot of getting used to and usually I keep my self-introduction to Clement, just Clement.

I empathize with people who have name issues especially those with names that are not common and I understand the distress that they can go through. My daughter will have a challenge especially with the “ZH” equivalent of the Tamizh letter that has many people up in knots. The fact that many Tamizh speakers say it as Tamil makes me break into a sweat.

A rose by any other name will smell as sweet but you can’t go by smell with people can you?

1 comment:

Susan Deborah said...

True that we can't be distinguished by our smell. I wish.

Great post, Element!

Joy always,