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Odia Story: The Naming

By Ranjan Sahoo, Translated by Dr Binodini Patra | PUBLISHED: 21, Apr 2021, 18:38 pm IST | UPDATED: 21, Apr 2021, 19:55 pm IST

Odia Story: The Naming

Sanatana went back home after the completion of his studies from the town. He was no more an adolescent then. In his village, when he came upon names of the boys, he disliked them blaming the names as unrefined and hoarse. Thus hateful. What is this? Someone is named as Shukuta and others as Dhadia, Paria and Gajia etc. some one’s mother calls her son as ‘musha’ in endearment. Others are called ‘Danga’(a stick), ‘Kani’(Thin bamboo twig) by their mothers out of affection. An assembly of absurd, nasty names ! How come these names strike the heads of the village rustics – he thought in amazement.

How sweet are the names like Naintina, Argentina, Franklin, Lewis, Nice and Peace etc.! Also names like Samira, Tatini, Digbalaya & Bela etc. are so nice and emotional ones and literary too. Or, there are names like Jahna, Sakala, Khara and Barsha etc. Names so ultra modern and enchanting ! Ignoring these names, why do the rustics stick to the nasty old fashioned names which are used almost in every family. Fie upon them ! He would never give any of these names to his own children. If in future, he begets a son, he would choose a very sweet and romantic name for him. Oft times when he ruminates over his own name; a sinister disregardful feeling fills his heart. What an old and traditional is his own name ! Many a time, he has expressed a desire to change his name by an affidavit. But alas ! His mother each time had warned him – "Sana, Don’t ever think of changing this name chosen by the Brahmin Pundit's divination. Gods will be displeased. The Pundit chose this name as per your horoscope prediction on the day of your christening ceremony."

Sanatan resentfully yields to what his mother cautions him with a God-fearing mood. But amidst the most modern & aristocratic names of his colleagues, he remains dispassionate for his own name – an old stale one that springs from a superstitious rustic sentiment.
After five years of his marriage, he was blessed with a son. When the SatyaNarayan Puja was performed on the occasion of the christening ceremony of the newborn; the Brahmin Pundit after murmuring the names of countless Gods and Goddesses announced that the baby should be named as ‘Bidyadhar’. Jolted by a shock, Sanatan shouted, “No, no, it can’t be so. I will select a sweet name for my son.”

The Brahmin, a knowledgeable Godman said to him in a half-shut brooding look, “See Sanatan, the child’s horoscope indicates that he would reach a great height in education, wit and wealth of knowledge. Therefore, he should be named as ‘Bidyadhar’ which means one who always holds learning under his command." Hearing this, Sanatan’s mother’s eyes sparkled in superb satisfaction. But Sanatan said in a defying tone – ‘My son would be given an extra ordinarily ultra modern name – not this sort of old, often-used, unpleasant name which is neither sweet to hear nor has a taste in it. The baby should be christened as “Weekly” – a totally new name, ever heard by any.'

Everybody present there kept quiet. But the lips of the pundit used to recite ‘slokas’, could pronounce the name with difficulty. But he muttered it along with the ‘mantras’ with so much force as though he could speak English as easily and fluently as he chanted the ‘mantras’.
Five days after this satisfactory naming ceremony, Sanatan set off for his work place in the town leaving his child and family in the village to come back shortly taking a fortnight’s leave. After fifteen days, he was back again. No sooner did he reach the veranda of his home, his mother Bhanumati who was seated there shouted, “Oh, Wee’s-Maa (mother of the termite) where are you ? Sana has arrived. Fetch him a pot full of water to wash his feet.”

Sanatan thought, might be a new maid had been recruited to help his wife during her convalescence. Otherwise, there was nobody at home in this peculiar name– ‘Wee’smom’. Sanatan was resolved that the new generation of his family henceforward, would glorify and adorn this house with new ultra modern names.

But he was heart-broken seeing the lady who was approaching with a water pot in response to his mother’s call. She was nobody but his own sweet smiling, shy, simple, virtuous and loving wife Malati. Within no time, he could understand that the sweet romantic modern name of his son has been turned to “Wee” (termite) in short – as a lizard’s tail falls off its main body, 'Weekly' has been cut off and the word was converted to ‘Wee’. Thus his heart was embittered.

So long as he stayed at home he was fed up hearing repeatedly the name ‘Wee’. The Grandmaa lovingly called the baby ‘Wee’ while caressing him. He also heard the neighboring ladies shouting from outside, “Oh wee’s-mom, what are you doing inside? Have you finished cooking? Heard that wee’s-papa has come home?” And many such things terming his son’s name as ‘wee’(termite). No one ever once addressed his son as Weekly. His ears always hungry to listen to his son’s ultra modern name remained disheartened, disappointed and distressed. The name he had chosen so hopefully on the christening ceremony of the baby, gradually lost its luster & lucidity.

His heart was hopelessly filled with an uncontrollable agitation against his mother, as her immense love for the baby, was the reason of reducing his son’s name from ‘Weekly’ to ‘Wee’. This pricked him as a peg that could not be extracted. But he could not speak out anything against his mother as he marked that when mom called the baby by that peculiar short name and caressed him taking in her lap; the baby rocked with an overwhelmingly joyous smile. The healthy, hearty and overflowing smile that waved in his cheeks listening to the word ‘Wee’, ultimately subdued Sanatan to accept ‘Wee’ as his nickname. The name slowly seemed sweet, soft and endeared to Sanatan and he soon became dispassionate to its peculiarity.

Sanatan joined the Military. So he could not take his family with him. Nor could he admit his baby in an English medium school in the town. Therefore, he instructed his family to admit his five year old son in the village school with a hope that when he would be allowed to keep his family with him, his son might go to a good school in the town. He was at that time overburdened with rigorous duties at his job centre. He could neither be particular about his son’s early education nor his family management. He could not admit his son in the school personally, consulting with the head teacher about the name of his child. With the march of time, his obsession about the name of the child was little relaxed. He would be thinking, ‘oh what is there in names? Names are non-connotative having no useful meaning. What is important for a man in his upbringing? It is enough if the child is brought up with proper care and caution.

After his son passed the fifth standard, Sanatan managed to find time to go home and bring the child to his town and get him admitted there in a school. He could take his care and keep direct watch on his child’s study if the boy stayed with him. He would surely grow up to be a good citizen developing his personality on the right track.

So Sanatan went to his son’s school with a view to getting his transfer certificate. On his way back from school, his dormant vanity for the modernized name of his child got enlivened again. He thought consoling himself that due to the overflowing love of the Grandmaa, his son was nick-named as ‘Wee’ at village. But in the town he would not allow anyone to call him as ‘Wee’. He would be addressed as ‘Weekly’ with state and grandeur.

If from the first day of his stay in town he would be known only as ‘Weekly’ to all, the neighbours also would start calling him by that name. In the town school, the name Weekly would create sensation as the most modern name. Thinking so, he suddenly became curious to see this name in the boy’s School Leaving Certificate. He pulled out the paper from his pocket and started reading it with a single breath.

“This is to certify that Sriman Weedhar Das, son of Sri Sanatan Das of….…”

He could not proceed reading farther as he was extremely enraged finding the name somewhat similar to ‘Bidyadhar’ – even inferior to that. He felt like tearing the paper into pieces and throw it into the gutter. To him the name ‘Weedhar’ in place of ‘Weekly’ was an ironical taunt as he discarded the name ‘Bidyadhar’ on the Christening ceremony. The tail piece ‘dhar’ of Bidhyadhar ironically being attached in his son’s nick name ‘Wee’, was wickedly winking at his craze for modernity.

He disgustingly came to a conclusion that his son’s name was now a traditional one and included in the list of names like Gadadhar, Laxmidhar, Mayadhar etc. He dejectedly diverted his mind from the name written in the certificate.

Controlling his unrequited enthusiasm regarding his son’s name, he got him admitted in the town school the next day.
Odia story by: Ranjan Sahoo   Translated by: Dr. Binodini Patra

# Author Ranjan Sahoo born on 02 Oct, 1964 in Odisha. He is a renowned Odia writer with 13 Books, including Nine odia short  story collections. By Profession he is Asst. Accounts Officer working in A.G. office, Bhubaneswar.
L.P. :-86, Stage-1, Laxmisagar BDA Colony, Bhubaneswar: 751006, Odisha.
Phone: 9861060803

# Translater Dr Binodini Parta is a Writer of 15 books. A Rtd Professor of Eng. Poet, fictionist, translator and writer of Children's literature. Received many awards, some of which include The Prajatantra  (Sulekha) award, The Kadambini award, Lekhika samsad award, Godavari's award, Fakir Mohan Sahitya. Parishad award and many more.