For 30 odd years of my life I have suffered with my identity, my name. And now, it almost seems like an old adversary, which I have grudgingly accepted as my own but still once in a while have a skirmish with.
I blame my paternal grandmother completely for the fiasco surrounding my name because she was the one to bestow my name without even seeing me. Yes, my grandmother died 4 years before I was born, but it was her death wish that her son’s next born should be named as Prasanna. Don’t ask me how my grandmother was privy to the information that her son would have another child after the first two. But I’m guessing that she was being extra-smart, if she was thinking of a name that was unisex or gender-neutral name.
Ever since I can remember the reaction that people have when they hear my name for the first time is –“Hey, but isn’t Prasanna a guy’s name?” And ever since I can remember I have always wanted to strangle the person and tell him/her that “Yes, but as you can see for yourself I’m a girl and that’s my name”.
What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t change my name as it was my grandmother’s last wish and even though I would have liked to have a word with her (in-fact lots of words) for butchering my identity, I still have to keep her last wish in regard.
It’s not that I don’t like my name, I guess it’s ok considering that my name has a Sanskrit origin and it means joyful. But all the joy is sucked out of my soul whenever I receive a call on my phone and the voice on the other end says –“Can I speak to Mr. Prasanna?”
And people don’t even have the courtesy to apologize after they hear my voice. After a pause of few microseconds they continue as if it doesn’t really matter. And the funny thing is I have kind of got used to it too. It doesn’t grate on my nerves as much as it used to before.
There have been incidents when my name has created more alarming confusions. Like the time when I received the 10th grade passing certificate and the delight of seeing 90% on the marks sheet was slightly marred on seeing the Mr. in front of my name. I had to run around for quite some days to correct this gender confusion and amend my name to Miss. Prasanna.
And then there was another time during my first working year, when the tax deducted at the end of the financial year was more than the calculated amount. Why? Because they thought I was a male and deducted the amount mentioned in the tax rebate for men! Phew!
So when I hear someone say “What’s in a name?”, I say everything. You have to place yourself in my shoes and then you would understand the importance of one’s name J