“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” ―
One day my mom and her college bestie were musing over what they would name their first born babies. My mom had a liking for the word Shaleenta as is means decency/modesty and so she derived the name Shaleen from it, for a boy.
Then I was born and so she modified it to suit a baby girl – Shalini.
I have looked up my name on internet searches plenty of times as I love to read what pops up – “Shalini means Intelligent; Sensible; Talented; Charming; Modesty.”
You see, its my way of consoling myself as I hankered all the time over it not being an exotic name. If I had my way, my name would have begun with a Z – something which I had expressed aloud to my horrifically scandalized parents. I was age ten at that time!
“Ssssh! That’s a Muslim sounding ……,” they had trailed off even as I protested that I was in love with Zara from the Paki series Tanhaiyen and that’s what I want to be called from now on.
Boy oh Boy did I get walloped for this – both physically and mentally. I overheard relatives discussing me in hushed tones with plenty of eye-rolling while my older cousins concocted tales of torture.
“You are adopted”
“You were possessed by a Djinn when you were born.”
“Your feet are going to turn backwards and you will develop fangs.”
Even as I was fighting the urge to hurl something at them, my oldest cousin leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, “only I know the truth.” Then she sauntered out of the room.
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Intrigued, I followed her to the garden where she paced and sighed as she mulled the difficult decision of letting me know. “No one is supposed to tell you, you know.”
Assuring her of keeping the secret, I begged her to tell me.
“You were found in the Masjid by the water tank. Dr. Sajid uncle had gone to do his bit for Eid and the Imam sahib requested his help with you. He brought you over and handed you to Ayah amma and we were all made to pretend that you are part of the family. Haven’t you ever wondered why you call your parents Chacha- Chachi and mine Badey Papa and Badi Mummy.”
I let out a loud wail, fat tears dropping rapidly from my eyes. She cast a look heavenwards and then hopped off calling out loudly, “Chachi, Shalini is making up lies again.”
In August I had joined a writing workshop and this story was part of a HW exercise. I am now publishing on my blog as I really liked how it turned out. Our assignment was to find out how was our name given to us, who named us, was there any opposition to the name, any alternates suggested? One part of the tale was to be true and one part to be fictional.
You could read another one of my fictional tales here