What‘s In A Name?

My name is ARIJIT SEN and I am a bit insane. By far I am not related either to Amartya Sen or Sushmita Sen.
Like most kids of this generation, I was not born with this name .This was bestowed upon me much later. In fact the name mentioned in my birth certificate happens to be “Baby” quite normal in those days. Parents bought time till they could zero down upon a name of their choice.
People in those days had a habit of asking the meaning of the name because every name had a unique meaning then unlike today. The meaning of my name is one who wins over the enemy, ‘ARI’ means enemy and ‘JIT’ means win.
My wife and sister both thinks alike. According to them I completely justify my name. I first make everyone around me an enemy and then try to win over them.
My mother once told me how she pinned down this name for me. One of my cousin brothers used to study in Nava Nalanda school. She asked him to tell her the names of his classmates for more options. This name belonged to one of his classmates and she liked it a lot. and thus gave it to me. My name was very uncommon till I grew older and now I know a dozen people with the same name.
I always disliked writing my name in cursive or in small letters due to three consecutive tittles over “i” and “j”. Till now I write my name in all caps. I have no clue what a graphologist would have to say about it. Since my name is in Bengali we pronounce it as ORIJIT unlike others. Even today I have to explain why I pronounce it as ORIJIT but write ARIJIT.
When I moved to Delhi, people started pronouncing it as ARJIT as if that “i” had no value or was silent. But I have encountered people who won’t even respond if you pronounce their name wrongly. They will behave as they don’t know that person at all. They would write Parveen but expect others to pronounce it as Praveen. Once I went to Gujarat and asked for a person called Shahgir and I pronounced it as Shagir, they couldn’t place him till the time I gave his other credentials. Same as Jhadav and Yadav. I was definitely wrong with the pronunciation but what about that missing “i” which changes my name altogether? Without that “i” my name is meaningless. Anyways I got no answers. Later on I joined the bandwagon and started pronouncing my own name wrongly to make things easier.
As a photojournalist, ‘byline’ is a very important part of our job. The deskies will invariably write ARJIT until rectified. Once I was fortunate to get my photograph published in “The Guardian” and as usual they also spelled my name wrongly, ARJIT SEN. There were instances too, when reporters lost their job for writing wrong names of boss’s friend in a report.
In my life I have dialed #100 (emergency number) mostly if not only in Delhi. Either for the tantrums of the autowalas or for the sound pollution thanks to wedding parties held just behind my house. When ever you call them they would first ask your name. When I said “my name is ARIJIT SEN “ they would revert back by repeating my name “Harjit Singh?”. Delhi is a bordering state of Haryana and close to Punjab. There, for them if any name ends with “JIT” that has to has “SINGH” as surname and nothing else could matter. After a couple of such encounters once I dialed #100 and introduced myself as HARJIT SINGH. No point of spending time on rectifying my name rather I spent my time wisely lodging the complaint.
When I shifted to Mumbai, by then this guy called ARIJIT SINGH had gotten very popular for his beautiful playback singing in Bollywood movies. Henceforth people with a name of ARIJIT couldn’t have any other surname but SINGH. Through out my tenure in Mumbai, I kept on rectifying them.
Things changed when I moved to Bengaluru. For them no name can end with the letter “t”. So they changed my name to ARIJITH SEN. By then I was used to these name ‘shakes’.
In 2018 I came back to my hometown and got back my actual name ORIJIT SEN (pronunciation). Later I had applied for my Provident Fund withdrawal. It was taking a long time for them to release the amount whereas I was on the verge of bankruptcy. So I took the help of Twitter and tagging a hell lot of people there. Don’t know if that worked but after a long gap I finally got a call from Provident Fund department. The guy listened to my problems and assured me to resolve it at the earliest. “Everything will be done sir, but please sing a line for me some day” he said before putting the phone down. May be he took me as the singer ARIJIT SINGH who is near about dying to withdraw a few lakhs of rupees and that too from the Employees Provident Fund. Anyways, my problem was solved soon and thankfully he never called me back for any request pertaining to sing for him. I was quite sure he would have reverted back my money instantaneously if he had listened to my song once.
There are many people who have a hard time correcting their names or have faced name ‘shakes’ like me. The historical characters were not spared too. “King Ashoka”, pronounced as “King Ashok”, “Lord Rama” pronounced as “Lord Ram” and so on. The Britishers ruled our country for a couple of centuries and anglicised the names of people and places as they wished. The KANPUR city was changed to CAWNPORE, BARDHAMAN as BURDWAN. Even the Nobel laureate RABINDRANATH THAKUR was also anglicised as RABINDRANATH TAGORE.
My sister’s name was supposed to be “SILPI” meaning an artist. But while her birth certificate was being made some one goofed it up and made it “SHILPI” which is a wrong spelling and remained so. My wife’s name is RAJASHREE, but people would call her RAJSHREE, RAJASRI , RAJYASRI and RAJARSHI. The funny part of her name is, it is on the borderline of two genders. If you write RAJASHREE its female and if its RAJARSHI its male. Pronunciation varies from language to language and its more so in India and it will continue to be so.
Once I myself messed up my name . Me and my cousin brother went to meet a person. My brother extended his hand first and said “Hello, I am Sourav Sen” then it was my turn and I extended my hand too but said “Hello, I am Sourav Sen” and quickly rectified myself “ I am ARIJIT SEN”.
William Shakespeare once said “What’s in a name?” may be because he never knew how we Indianised his name. I would have said, there are a bunch of stories in a name.

Text & Photos : ARIJIT SEN


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