Cindrella Mainali

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Published On: May 19, 2022 01:00 PM NPT By: Cindrella Mainali

What’s In a Name?

What’s In a Name?

As I begin to write this, I am reminded of an old Sanjay Dutt movie dialogue “Aadmi apne kaam se pehechana jaata hai, naam se nhi” which roughly translates to, “A person is known by his work, not by his name.” While I do agree with the statement, I also can’t deny that there are quite a few perks of having a unique name. For one thing, even people who are bad with names will remember yours. And second, your introduction session is never boring. This I can say by experience.

By now you must already have checked my name to see if it actually fits the criteria of unique. Yes, I’m named after a fairy tale character. And combined with an equally unique surname, I can safely vouch that I’m the only ‘Cindrella Mainali’ living on planet earth.

I do confess that I was not comfortable with the name for a quite a long time in my teen years. It brought a lot of unwanted attention with it. What could be more bothering than that to a shy, timid, introverted kid? Even today I would prefer a name closer to Sanskrit, where my roots belong. But I understand my mother’s sentiments after keeping the name and have come to lovingly accept. And coming of age, as I’ve lost some of teenage shyness, I’ve even begun to have fun with it.

How I got this name also has a story behind it. Apparently, my mother was very young when she was pregnant with me, just around 20. On finding an adolescent pregnant, an elderly doctor exclaimed- “You’re carrying a baby at an age you should be reading stories of Cindrella.” Thank god he didn’t suggest reading The Jungle Book, or else I might have turned up a Mowgli.

In won’t be wrong to say that in our part of the world, the name of a child comes from a spur of emotion rather than a though through process. That’s why some names are far beyond comprehension. There was a man in our village named Dukhilal. What could be the emotion behind giving such a drastic name, one would wonder. Maybe the parents were unhappy with the way he looked. Or perhaps he went into incessant crying as a child which got him his sombre name. It could also be that the parents were expecting a girl child were displeased when a boy was born. The latter seems quite unlikely though, given the fondness of son in our society. 

Well, whatever the reason, how unnatural it would seem for Dukhilal to be ever happy. The poor man has to remain unhappy to live up to his name. Then we have the nicknames- kalu, lalu, chotu, motu, lambu, taklu, golu, bhuntu, puntu and so. Our kiths and kins feel the need to highlight our physical features while nicknaming us, as if they aren’t apparent enough.

Though I may not be very fond of my name, I admit that it has given me some memorable moments from time to time. For instance, the first day at a new school or a new office is always eventful. There is the general curiosity to see the person behind the fancy name. But the time I have most fun with the name is when an elderly person is made to pronounce it. For my own grandmother I was always Simbrella, nicknamed Simru. For some others I’m Singhrella. My personal favourite is Shangrilla. The reason is the beautiful meaning behind the word- heaven on earth. So whenever anyone faces difficulty in taking my name, I urge them to call me that.

My friends and I sometimes talk about what it would be like to grow old with this name. A grandmother named Cindrella would be really fancy, I tell them. They have a good laugh about it. And I guess so will my grandchildren. And long after they’re gone, the story of a great grandmother named Cindrella may still float around the tea table as a humorous anecdote evoking a few laughs. 

So just this once, I believe, it might be possible for a person to be remembered for her name for than her work.

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