What’s in a (sur)name?


Whenever people ask my baby’s name and I tell them what it is, they look at me as if I’m forgetting to say something. Then they look slightly uncomfortable and with an awkward ‘uhh…ok’ they quickly change the topic to how cute she is and start cooing at her. I’m of course talking about random people who either don’t know me at all or know me very little.

Seeing them feel uncomfortable over something as silly as a name really makes me want to laugh. My daughter doesn’t have a surname. Before I get into the whys and the wherefores, I’d like to tell you that people also feel uncomfortable by her name. And that really stuns me. And this has happened with people I know. So they know I am Hindu and sort of forget (conveniently or otherwise, I don’t know), that I married a Christian. My daughter, therefore, is bound to have a little bit of both right? Isn’t that what they should have expected?

She’s called Thea Nalini. We chose the name very carefully thinking about how both sides of the family will take to it. Unfortunately, though, one side of the family emphasises on the first name and the other side on the latter. So much thought put in the naamkaran didn’t come to much use. And I feel a tad bit bad about it because I thought Nalini isn’t an obvious Bengali name (and therefore shouldn’t have been a problem for his side of the family). And Thea is such an easy name to pronounce- it doesn’t change to sound something strange in Bengali (my elder sister’s daughter is called Adaa and a lot of people I know can’t quite pronounce it right and it ends up often sounding like the Bengali word for ginger, so most people refer to her as my sister’s daughter. No one really calls her by her name when she’s referred to in the third person). So, to avoid this situation, we chose a fairly simple easy-to-pronounce name, and my side of people aren’t still comfortable to call her by her first name. I guess because it sounds foreign? I don’t really know. Continue reading “What’s in a (sur)name?”


Cry baby

I thought I was turning into one: a cry baby that is. Those hormones would play up occasionally, and then, her father’s in a different city, working. I had a tiny little baby who would bawl her guts out, sometimes just out of total frustration because I just couldn’t understand what she wanted. And this attempt at deciphering her cries, especially in the middle of the night, had to be done by me alone. Of course at day time, she wouldn’t give me half the trouble because I had help. She would only bawl in the day time on those days when her ayah wouldn’t come or my mother would be out of the house. All this combined together was a sure-shot mixture to get me burst into tears at the drop of a hat. Since all of this is behind me now, I think I have successfully cracked the cries and I have graduated from being a cry baby to a pro mommy. I am of course talking from the experience of having a 3+ month old baby. I don’t know how her cries will sound and what they will mean in a few months, but right now I am my baby’s master cry interpreter 😛 !

I have noted them down on the basis of how they sound:

  1. The attention cry (sounds like- Aiii): Pick me up or talk to me or play with me, or carry me/ hold me in a certain way, not the way you’re holding me right now-that’s what it essentially means. It could be at any point in the day or night. If you don’t pay attention, it could turn into something much worse: to point 3 or even more scary; point 4. In the initial days, I would always ignore this point which used to be my biggest mistake.
  2. The cry of pain (sounds like-Owaaain): This one was the easiest to understand as I could see her face contort, the lips forming the sad face expression. This one, at least in my daughter’s case, isn’t a very loud one. It just sounds like the whole world’s burden is on her tiny shoulders. This cry only happens when she is in genuine pain. Calming her down from this cry is the most difficult and frustrating. And this could also break you down into tears. It could sometimes take hours as sometimes no matter what you do, the pain/discomfort doesn’t go away as fast as you’d like it to. Of course figuring out where or what is causing the pain/discomfort is a Herculean task and if it isn’t addressed soon, it could quickly become point 3. Continue reading “Cry baby”

The milky way

I wake up from a nightmare. I was in a room, panicking and surrounded by women and children. They were all looking at me angrily and asking for milk. I was blank: what milk were they talking about?Before I got to ask, my question’s answered. Your milk dummy. I had no idea why I was supposed to give my milk away but I was panicking. I don’t have so much milk! What was I supposed to do? Before I know it, I wake up, thankfully, only to find my daughter hungrily sucking her thumb. She’s got her i-need-my-sleep genes from me I think, as she doesn’t even wake up to ask for milk at night. She just sucks her thumb vigorously and mewls a bit. I am supposed to be alert at all times and even when I am asleep I have to keep my ears open for that chug chug sound. Constant vigilance-that’s my motto. I rub her feet, check her diaper, coo at her and extremely reluctantly she opens her eyes and stares at me. By the time I’ve got my feeding cushion on, she grunts angrily saying (I think), it’s been more than five minutes since you’ve been up, where’s my milk? I hurry as I don’t want her father to wake and neither do I want her to start screaming. She’s making that face, Mishka, hurry up now, I tell myself. I quickly pick her up before the scream leaves her throat, and start feeding her. Immediately she starts to cry as she has zero patience. She doesn’t even want to wait for a minute for the milk to come. I coo at her, she gives me the look which says, fine I’ll try to be more patient but the milk better come soon. She suckles for a minute then looks at me and howls. I look at her puzzled: ab kya hua? It’s the I-don’t-want-milk-from-this-side cry. So I quickly change side and offer her milk from her favourite side. She suckles for 10 minutes and then I hear a slight snore. I look down to see my baby’s gone off to sleep! I burp her, pat her cheeks, rub her feet, hands, nothing helps. There’s a saying in Bengali: ghoomiye kaadaa (literal translation: one who sleeps so deeply that he turns soft and mushy like mud) and that applies to her completely. There’s not much you can do to wake her up.I sigh. It’s going to be a long night. In two hours, she’s sucking her thumbs again. She was so good for several weeks, where she would have a proper feed at dinner time and wake up once straight at 5 am. And now she asks for milk every three hours even in the daytime. I am panicking, is my milk not enough for her? But if she wasn’t getting proper milk she wouldn’t be putting on weight so steadily, would she now? I just have a healthy, hungry baby in hand, who’s turned my milk supply into a nightmare for me.This is going to be a long week, methinks.