To my imaginary reader buddies, let’s close our eyes and imagine our lives; it has its downs and ups, falls and rises, sadness and happiness, anger and love etcetera etcetera. It’s normal, ordinary and has a history. We were born and like the saying goes we don’t get to choose our name or family, hence we stick to them for life. Keep your eyes closed though.
When my elder sister bought her egotistical six months old Persian Cat, the poor proud brat had no name. He had assumed “oye” and “Oi” to be his epithet. Finally when I named him Goldie, the happiness he had was shining on the tips of his whiskers. After that he has been supplied with multiple nicknames which somehow are always similar to mine, but he loves all his names.
If tomorrow I were to stop calling him Goldie and call him Sunflower, he would be perplexed for few days, maybe weeks. My housemate and I, we have adopted a stray cat and named her Petush. For first few days she was far from responding to her name, now she is all over the house at first cry for Petush. Sometimes people break the names into parts; sometimes it’s stretched to annoy the beholder of the name at other moments cut short to save time. My name has been broken, cut, resized, gendered and un-gendered for long now, if we were to break my name in to two and translate it, the meaning is but “Enemy Go.”
A name is an act of love; it’s an expression in its self. No matter how much Romeo chants “What’s in a name?” I have to disagree with lover boy. A name is everything. Sometimes our desire to be another personality is expressed through the very act of altering our names or placing numerical in them, so that we stand out on the blue and white Wall. Writers have used different pennames just to experiment with styles of narrative! A name is meant to stand out, our parents’ first act of trying to prove to the world that my offspring is unique.
Now open your eyes and just think. If our name was erased and replaced with something new, would this memory replay of our lives have a value? It would have a great value, but its roots would be uprooted forever and the value will be in realm of doubt.
So what about the overgrown geopolitical babies that politicians and government try to look after, I was in fourth standard when Calcutta became Kolkata, Bombay became Mumbai, Madras became Chennai, my television was flooded, oh the joy people felt, was bogus in my eyes! As I had to cut the pervious names on my text book and write the new names, I found it meaningless, the Metropolis were same, their map was same and the paths drawn on them still red. When IPL creators and BCCI decided to dissolve Hyderabad Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad was born, I was furious. A name is history; Deccan Chargers were champions once, now they are a Wikipedia page. How would a Manchester United fan feel if ManU was renamed into Emirates United?
Whenever people ask me, where do you live? I say Tollygunge, but where do I step down? At Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro! Phew… It’s long! Few days back I was watching Being Indian videos, where in one of the videos a Mumbaikar tells, Mumbai is a place, but Bombay is an emotion, a day or two later I saw the same expression on a meme in Facebook. This tradition of rewriting, reimagining and forcing down of new names on a lane, a city or a state is irritating. India has unofficially two other names, Bharat and Hindustan. I am glad we haven’t decided to rename ourselves in fight against Western Culture and cut India out.
Day before yesterday I found the news report, that stated West Bengal would be renamed into Bengal, as the assembly has passed the resolution. Rather the West is being dumped by Bengal. The name would be Bangla in Bengali and Bangal in Hindi though. It is being done so because people with unbound emotions want to be part of the rich antiquity called ‘Bangla’. Nobody ever asks how a particular place feels when the hopes and aspirations of the apparent mass consciousness are forced on its old landmark as new labels!
Does she cry? No. Does she complain? No. Like a good child, it bears the futile actions of its care takers. India has this tendency to rename its existing places into something more patriotic as well as at times xenophobic. Will the next generation recall what was Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus called before it became heritage emblem? Will the cake chumming kids of Kolkata in next fifty years know what Mio Amore was previously called as? When we change the name of a place, we robe it of a chronicle, a chronicle that contributes to the general history. How many times I have wanted to change this blogs name! Alas I can’t because at that moment when I began this name mattered, it has a story which will be lost if I rename it.
Yes changes are necessary, moderations and progress are must in this world. But shouldn’t we respect the process of history? Like our future is in constant creation, history too is in a constant turmoil, sometimes it’s the clock of protection as well as journal of destruction. The black ribbon of horse drawn carriages that covered Champs-Elysees in Maupassant’s times are gone, but Champs-Elysees is still here.
If West is cut from West Bengal, the story of East Bengal dies with it. With it dies the hiraeth. With it dies a generation who wanted the partition to never happen. With it dies the humour that was born of the Ghoti-Bangal conflict, because when the West is gone, the East gets lost forever.
P.S- what's in a name huh Romeo?
Thanking you to bear with me