What’s in a name?

by | Sep 6, 2013

Contributed by: Angana Prasad
Dated: 27th August, 2013

To begin with “what’s in a name”, I think there is far too much in a name. I have my own biases and prejudices in contemplating why the name is what it is. Basing the content of this post entirely on my perception, I say, that more than what your name speaks of you, for me, your names speaks a lot of what your family perceives you to be. Maybe you are the bringer of good luck so your name is Lakshmi, maybe you are a personification of motherly love so your name is Mamta and maybe again, you are the not-so-wanted little girl and are a source of tension of being an extra stomach to feed, an extra dowry to pay and an extra chastity to be protected, so your name is possibly Dukhan! This was my exact flow of thoughts when I met Dukhan for the first time.


She had attended only 2 KHEL sessions in Butler Palace, where we were open to adding interested children to our lot, during their summer vacations. She was a very normal kid, with nothing too striking about her. There was a huge probability of her going unnoticed by me, if she hadn’t walked in late for the session on her first day. In  the  two sessions she caught my eye like no other and my brains kept working to find out what was so ‘Dukhan’ about her…


She was there for a session in Gomti Nagar. She was barely 7 or 8 years old. She was holding a baby in her hand. The baby wasn’t more than a few months old and was her sister. She kept a close eye on the game we were playing that day and her expressions changed with every moment in the games progress. I asked her to join and offered to take care of her sister, as the game was on. She shyly refused. I asked her name. She said ‘Mamta’…


Lakshmi is quite a common name among our female beneficiaries. Considering the (underprivileged) background of these children, I often brood if this child is a personification of hope (for a future shower of good luck) or of sarcasm (of the wealth that they do not have)…


Just recently our team visited Dharchula, Uttarakhand to do a reccee of the rehabilitation camps for the disaster affected families. The coordinators had spread out in different parts of the camp, to gather children for a mock KHEL session. Amidst the rush that followed, a particular someone caught my eye. Her bright(est) eyes and sunshine like smile made her situation look just so happily normal. What better, her name was Kiran, a ray of light…

Kallu, Chhote, Bade, Golu, Lallu:

These are more like nick names for convenience. Golu for the fat kid, Kallu for the dark kid, Chhote for the younger sibling and bade for the older and Lallu to quite an obviously dumb kid… Somehow my brains find it easy to remember these nick names better than the real names, but I find them a bit offensive in a few cases too.


I liked him. I really liked him. I had seen his sorry face the day he was brought to Ehsaas and was in love with his bright playful eyes that sparkled brighter with every passing day. I was extra nice to him, was extra tolerant to his naughtiness and took extra care to make sure that he was playing and enjoying and learning from our sessions. And then one day, he suddenly disappeared from the Ehsaas drop in center. He never came back for our sessions either. On the last session that he had attended, he shared with me in the middle of a game that his name was not Akash. I asked for his real but he wouldn’t say. All he said was “…main pagal hoon kya ki yahan sab ko sab sach bata du…” I fall short of words to express what I felt like at that moment. Anyway, Akash is gone now. It’s been more than a month that I haven’t seen him. His face is still etched in my eyes, just that I have no name for that face…