What’s In A Name?

My friend Anil was recently hospitalised for a minor ailment and at the time of discharge, was asked his full name to fill out a form to generate a receipt for payment. He was asked his first name, last name and his father’s name. Luckily for him, Anil remembered that the father’s name was being asked to use as his middle name just in time and gave the name Kumar which is not his father’s name.

And there lies a story. And another.

At the time of enrolling in the NDA, way back in the late fifties of the last century, the officer filling in the details in a register for entrants, entered Anil’s middle name as Kumar, which is a common name in India which is usually part of the full name Anil Kumar. From that time, all official records have Anil’s name as Anil Kumar as his first and middle names and till now he has never had to use any other name, except this time at the hospital. He was able to give the name of his father as Kumar as otherwise claiming reimbursement for medical expenses with a receipt issued in a name different from the official name would not have been possible.

When Anil shared this story with me, I was reminded of my own story. I come from the South of India where the system of first name, middle name and surname does not exist. One is given a name and usually the father’s name is affixed before the name as an initial. In that scheme, my name should have officially been R. Ramana for Rajgopaul Ramana, as Rajgopaul was my father’s name. Since I was born in Mumbai where the naming follows a different system, my name on my birth certificate was entered as Ramana Rajgopaul. Since then, all the descendants of my late father have had the surname Rajgopaul. The problem arose when I had to apply for a passport where the middle name was asked and since my father’s official name was Krishnamurthy Rajgopaul, the former name being his father’s, my middle name became Krishnamurthy.

Complicated what? I wonder what Shakespeare would have had to say about that!

Comments are closed.