In the play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare had famously asked: ‘What is in a name?’ It was intended to point out that the quality of a person does not change with the change of name, and that ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’. However, when we seek someone by their name, we try to associate that with their personality, and their very being. So, in a way, a person’s name becomes their identity.
Which is why when the CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk and his partner Grimes, a musician, recently announced to the world the birth of their son X Æ A-12 Musk, it sent people into a state of tizzy, prompting a barrage of memes and jokes.
•X, the unknown variable ⚔️
•Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)
•A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent 🤍
(A=Archangel, my favorite song)
(⚔️🐁 metal rat)
— ꧁ ༒ Gℜiꪔ⃕es ༒꧂ 🍓🐉🎀 小仙女 (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
X Æ A-12 going to elon musk and grimes bedroom at 3 am to tell them he threw up pic.twitter.com/3pA1eE7fEe
— 𝔩í𝔩i (@peixoxoxo) May 6, 2020
* X Æ A-12 misbehaves *
Grimes: That’s enough for today, you’re gonna get punished
X Æ A-12: NO MOM PLEASE DONT SWITCH OFF THE WI-
*Grimes switches the wifi off*
X Æ A-12: pic.twitter.com/XcmZUnETsO
— pooh (@honeycuplily) May 6, 2020
Grimes’ child: my name’s X Æ A-12
me: how do u pronounce that?
Grimes’ child: pic.twitter.com/cyPDDKh28V
— yung lean fan account 🌱 (@groovytony__) May 5, 2020
Probably the world is not ready for a name as unconventional as this. And you are not wrong to argue that it is but a personal affair. But when a person grows up with a name that is unusual and unorthodox, they also go through some interesting experiences.
Twenty-eight-year-old Lucknow-based Tipu Sultan Siddiqui is one of them. Named after the erstwhile ruler of the kingdom of Mysore, he says his birth name has an interesting story behind it. “My mother was a history teacher. And when she was pregnant with me in 1991, this show called ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan‘ would air on TV. My entire family used to watch that show. I have an elder brother and sister who are much older than me. While watching the show, my brother would say that we would have a ‘Tipu Sultan’ of our own in the family. Finally, when I was born, they actually went ahead and named me ‘Tipu Sultan’. Had I been a girl, they would have obviously named me something else,” he says
A few years after his birth, Tipu’s mother was reading a book on the warrior and found out that the namesakes, in fact, shared the same birth date, too.
“Growing up, while I wasn’t really bullied, people did tease me. My name would incite a lot of curiosity. For instance, I have almost always been asked by people if ‘Tipu Sultan’ is my real name. It is actually a cool thing to have an unusual name — people tend to remember you. While I am not really good with remembering people’s names, they always remember mine. Previously, when I was working as an entertainment reporter, I met with actor Shah Rukh Khan once. When I told him my name, he said: ‘Oh, that is your real name. I am going to remember you the next time we meet’. We used to move around a lot as kids, and when I would join a new school the class would buzz with talks of a ‘Tipu Sultan’ joining them. That happened through college and my first job, too,” he shares.
Tipu Sultan is not alone. There is no dearth of creativity in our country, and Raipur-born twins ‘Covid’ and ‘Corona’ are prime examples. The babies — a girl and a boy — were born on March 27, 2020, amid the lockdown, in a government hospital in the city. Their mother told the Press Trust of India that the parents wanted to make the day memorable because they had to face a lot of problems amid the lockdown, before the delivery.
Then, there are other interesting names like Adolf Lu Hitler Marak, a politician from Meghalaya; cricketers Napoleon Einstein, Washington Sundar and Sachin Baby, to name a few. In 2019, it was revealed that babies born in 2018 around the world, were being named after popular characters from the HBO-original television show Game of Thrones that aired its last and final season last year. According to international news reports, the names ‘Arya’ and ‘Khaleesi’ — after two of the show’s most-powerful female characters — had many takers.
No one can really tell what prompts a parent to come up with an ingenious and an unconventional name — that some may even term ‘weird’ — but, it’s the recipient of the name that gets to grow up and live with it.
Delhi-based Soel Saha (41), who works in the IT sector often hears people mispronounce her name and call her ‘Sohail’, ‘Sohel’, ‘Soul’, ‘Sonal’, and so on. “Many people confuse me for a man, and even after I tell them they are speaking with Soel over the phone, they assume it will be a male voice,” she says. Soel was named after a waterfall in Africa, as her mother thought of it as sweet and apposite. “She is an avid reader, and when she was pregnant with me, she was going through a book and found this name. She knew right then that if she had a girl, she would name her ‘Soel’,” she explains.
Interestingly, Soel has a pretty creative nickname, or as Bengalis call it, ‘daak naam‘, too. “My nickname is ‘Limca’. The story behind it is that when I was born, I was light complexioned. When my mother saw me for the first time, she just uttered the word ‘Limca’, and this became my daak naam. Also, the brand Limca was launched in India in 1977 and had become a craze at the time. I was born in 1979, so perhaps this was the story,” she says, adding that just like Tipu Sultan, she, too, loves her name(s) and the uniqueness.
Call it a lack of imagination or an extreme one, but as long as some people continue to think outside the box, such names will continue to pop up. So, if you’re considering an unusual name for your baby, this is some food for thought!
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