My name is Divya. If you are from India, your phone is sure to hold atleast a couple of contacts under this name. Or if you are a Divya yourself, despite bearing a meaningful name, the cons of having hundreds of unique Divyas around might have frustrated you at some point in life.
I receive creative answers from the elders of my family when I seek an explanation for the christening.
“You were named after the first letter (according to Tamil pronunciation) of your maternal grandfather’s name”, says mom.
“Your mom named you after watching the movie, Mounaragam“, opines my dad.
“You were adopted from Kodaikanal Children’s Home. Your real mom named you so”, mumbles my cousin L.
For some reasons I am not sure of ( although L says it is because of the poodle-like looks I bore as a child), I was burdened with a pet name ‘Puppy’, because the elders, I believe, must have been either too busy to find a meaningful name or too concerned to screw me for life. Even now, my extended family members know me by this name and not the official one.
At school, despite L’s endeavours to establish my pet name among the classmates, the official moniker gained attention. There were a hundred Ajin, Anish and Anishas in my class (hello y’all), luckily the ownership of the D word remained with me.
The first day in college took me by surprise. I had to share my first semester with students from various other departments, blimey! the first three rows had females with distinct physical features – four-eyed, wide mouthed, buck toothed, hair smoothened, flat-chested, pimple-skinned, foundation-filled, nerd-brained, neatly-dressed and booger-nosed, all under the name Divya!! We nodded to each other with smiles after exchanging the same name, though inside the brains, the swear words kept creeping in. I mean, can you imagine sharing your name with three-fourth of your classmates in college? It’s like sharing your first rank with ten other competitors in the Board exam.
Somehow, the other Divyas seemed to take the same-name thing in a convival manner. After a day or two, our names got changed for the sake of clarity and convenience. Our handles were taken away in exchange of abbreviations, acronyms and dangling adjectives. I was renamed C.A (using the initials of my official name), to my left sat J, to my right sat a girl (re)named Theni, the front bench had my friends PS, DM, DB and Room Divya, the latter happened to be my roommate. It was me who publicized her name to retain my own identity as Divya in the room. Soon, it dawned to Room Divya that the other Divya in the room (which is me) was still addressed in her official name inside the room while she was there unnecessarily suffering from an adjective abuse on her supposed-to-be-divine appellation. The result – Room Divya was blessed with a better, respectful name, MD (M, being one of her initials) and she happily acknowledged it.
My workplace had a better story for me, for it spotlighted my identity under my own name. Not for long. After a few months of extensive training, I was allocated to my first project team, where, to my surprise, the D tragedy resumed in my life. There was a senior team member with whom I had to share my name, well, again. In a week, we, as a team, glued so well to each other and everyone felt an unexplainable urge to distinguish the senior and fresher Divya (that’s me) with better names. The smarter senior D, with her seniority in the team, continued to enjoy being called by her own name. While the fresher D, who was (and still is) a firm believer of Karma, reaped her own weeds. After having (re)named Room Divya against her wishes in college, it was my turn to accept a ridiculous adjective to the name I-wish-I-never-owned. I was baptized with a new name Kutty Divya!
Four years. And then I got married to my highschool sweetheart. Quit the job. Cooked. Cleaned dishes. Got pregnant (of course not by cleaning dishes), delivered baby D. Life is going on. Did I regain the ownership to my own name? Nay!!
Dr.H calls me “Where’s the TV remote?” or “Where’s my phone charger?” and if in a good mood, sibilates the other name “Shall we order dinner from outside?”
Whereas, Baby D calls me ‘Anghaa‘.
I was almost about to forget what it’s like to be called by my real name, when these two incidents happened.
1. We were on a video call with my SIL. After the usual exchange of statements on health, dinner and weather, SIL and I took an unintended pause in search of the next interesting topic to be discussed when our three and half year old nephew suddenly occupied a half of my mobile screen, smiled generously, then waved at me and disappeared like the summer rains. Driving class! The next topic popped up in my mind and before I could start a relevant line, the nephew reappeared, this time accompanied by their housemaid. This nephew who treats me no less than a favorite playmate on our infrequent family get togethers smiled at me once again and in his unaltered baby voice announced to the maid, “Aunty aunty… do you know her? She’s my aunt, Diveeeya.” “Diveeeya.. Diveeeya..!”, he repeated until the maid ensured her acceptance of information with a polite laughter and a couple of nods. I responded back with a coy smile. Hidden underneath my curved lip was a barrel full of unexpressed gratitude and bliss in their purest form.
2. The call was followed by another video call, which was from another SIL who screamed, “Heiii… I have a surprise for you!!” in her usual energetic tone. Inside the mobile screen surfaced my two year old niece whose where-is-baby-D? looks got disturbed when my SIL interrogated, “What is puppy athai’s name?” Screw the p word. Why do people keep using it? I’m not a poodle anymore. My thoughts ended when my ever-graceful niece in a honeyed tone maundered, “Diveeeeya!”
While seeking my grandma’s blessings, she always says, “God bless. May you earn a good name in this world!”
I’m 101% sure, she must have meant this. My good name is back!