Behind the Name

I named him Karan.

While I was newly married, I was introduced to several ‘characters’ of the family that in my opinion, were largely misunderstood. They were the outsiders of the family, or the ones that the members married into. They were talked about day in and out, how horrifying their personality was, and how badly the members suffered marrying them. What astonished me was the fact that the members: my own sisters-in-law had married them out of love, and these were not the traditional Indian arrangements otherwise made. So how….given the fact that they dated the brothers-in-law for several years did they miss out their outstanding personalities?

They complained to my mother-in-law who clearly had issues coping, and the resultant was the equivalent mistrust in me. I too, was an ‘outsider’, and moreover I was clearly rejected much before marriage. I was told I’d never fit in. I wish I listened.

I’m not too sure if all mothers would do this, but both brothers-in-law deserved a chance to explain their version of the story rather than blindly trusting your own. Why did they turn rogue so suddenly? Is there something we need to know? or change? But when I tried to suggest this to her or any of her daughters, they would have none of it, and I was at the risk of playing with fire. My turn would soon arrive, I thought. And in my case too, I would not be the one to deserve a hearing.

I named him Karan Antonio Rodriguez, actually. The last name being my own maiden name, or should I say that belongs to my side of the family. My husband’s family somewhere down the lane lost their surname, and it never bothered them to find or research it. They had been comfortable using their father’s first name affixed to theirs as a surname. While I am aware that these traditions do exist in some communities in India, I made it clear (to my husband) that my children were to have proper family names or surnames. This, I meant to discuss with the family, in the near future as my pregnancy neared maturity, but as fate would have it, an unforseen preterm delivery spurted the need for a name before the attending nurse could put it down on the birth certificate and make it permanent. Thus with the approval of my husband, Rodriguez was chosen.

So why Karan? Unfortunately, besides my husband, no one thought it imperative to ask. Karan, orginates from the Hindu epic war of the Mahabharat – a misunderstood warrior who fights on grounds of integrity and loyalty for the wrong side. After I had read the timeless text a few years ago, my heart went out for this warrior, whose importance was realised just moments before his death. The greatest lesson I learnt, among many others from this classic, is the fact that judgement should be passed only when one’s actions are heard and reasoned. Every one yearns to be heard, and some day I hope that my son too, will be the one to hear out the wrongdoer first.

Karan is also one of my favorite protagonists of my novel, still in the making and a character that captures hearts. And so I was beset on the name, much to the joy of the in-laws who were greatly relieved at the choice of something Indian, and Hindu.

While my boy was in his final days before graduating from the NICU, my sister-in-law chanced upon a medical document that stated his complete name and condemned us on the spot. Her reaction was so intensely bizarre, that I began to see where the love for my child’s homecoming and the joy of his recovery seemed so fake. Now everytime she makes an affectionate gesture towards my son, I can only see malice, a great sense of insecurity and hypocrisy. She succeeded in putting the importance of the name more than the human.

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