Naming Rights

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It was evaluation day at preschool. I shifted uncomfortably in the little toddler seat feeling like Goliath at Lilliput's table. My 3.5-year old's sincere teacher spread out a sheaf of papers of work and grades. "This is your son writing his name," she announced. She showed me incoherent scribbling. Interesting shapes, but no semblance of an alphabet. I grimaced at the 9-lettered challenge facing my son.

S I D D H A R T H.

It is a beautiful name that we as parents felt had pith, substance and meaning. "Siddharth" means one who has attained his goals. It is also the name of Gautam Buddha, the seer who attained Nirvana. The name also had attained acceptance from all sides of the family.

No, it was no Bob or Tom or Raj. It didn't roll off the tongue and was not easy to remember. But nor do Hermione Granger or Daenerys Targaryen. And yet they have high recall value. Then again, we were in the Bay Area where names like Wochiski, Blecharczysk, Srinivasan, Thirunavukkarasu, are common.

A name represents our roots. It is a promise of your unique offering to the world. The first manifestation of the love and aspirations of the parents. A name is destined to go through various avatars in its life, but they only add to its essence.


And really, if we expect our kids to be writing legibly before they are four, thrive at Russian math, top the spelling bee, invent the flying car - surely, a 9 lettered name was not going to create a ruffle.

I took a deep breath. My son would do just fine. As if reading my thoughts, the teacher assuaged me, "Oh don't worry, he will be writing his full name by the end of the year." I smiled at my ambitious, all-embracing Californian teacher. I took a few notes and headed to the door.

Was that Mrs. Guilmeneau next in line?

With a Perspective, I'm Sandhya Acharya

Sandhya Acharya was formerly in corporate finance and is now mother of two boys and a dance enthusiast living in Santa Clara.