Juliet: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
Well, indeed what’s in a name? But, the recent NRC updating process in Assam surely has brought up this question. With thousands of people scampering to find the names of their ancestors in the NRC 1951 and Voter List prior to March 25, 1971, the power and beauty of names has come to the forefront.
Few weeks ago, I collected the Legacy Data of my grandfather online from the NRC Assam website (www.nrcassam.nic.in). The legacy data is part of the requirement for filling up the forms for the NRC updating process. My grandfather’s data was taken from the Voter List of 1971. At that time, he was a resident of Hoogrijan Tea Estate in Upper Assam. Just out of curiosity, I also made a search for the names of the residents living at that place during that time. While going through the list, I found out a bevy of ‘interesting’ names. I call them interesting because we don’t get to hear these names anymore. Some such names in the list were Ghasi, Dhonga, Fatu, Longa, Konde and so on. These names belonged to the Tea Tribe community. I too have grown up in a Tea Estate but these names were no longer in circulation in our times. But then I found some names in the list, the namesakes of which grew up alongside me in the tea garden. Such names were Etwa, Sukurmoni, Budhu and many more.
The list of names came to my mind again today after reading an interesting article in the Telegraph newspaper. The article, titled “Names apart, 'fast' track way to NRC - And Gerela comes home, safe & dry” (http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150716/jsp/northeast/story_31813.jsp#.VaebobVBkj4), also speaks about names found in the NRC. The article speaks about the abundance of the name ‘Gerela’ in the NRC in villages in Jorhat, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Morigaon, Nagaon and many more. It speaks about Assamese names which have slowly gone ‘out of fashion’; names like Golapi, Podumi, which are no longer being given to the children.
Another paragraph of the article talks about some more fascinating names. It states, “…..there are also the registered Jolokias (chillies), Jaluk (pepper), Bogori (the berry), Paikari (wholesale), even Pokor (the fundament of the human anatomy), Kukurekhoa (one bitten by a dog) and Kekora (the crab), one belief then, it is said, being that in the days when cholera was an epidemic, a name that could test the limits of human nomenclature could ward off the evil eye…”
Names are indeed mystical. You may hear your name being called many times a day by various people, but hearing your name from the lips of the person you love is altogether a different experience. Also, you may hear numerous names in a day but hearing the name of some ‘special’ person, your mind may drift away for some time.
Also, there are certain names which get etched in your memory. Even if you have no connection with persons with them presently, you tend to still remember them just for their names. In my case, I still remember two boys from the tea garden, who used to play Cricket with us when we were children. These two were brothers, the elder’s name was Laal (meaning red colour), while the younger’s name was Boga (meaning white colour). There were many other boys who played intermittently with us during those times, but after all these years I only remember these two boys, mainly because of the uniqueness of their names.
(Picture Courtesy: http://cartoonistnituparna.org/nrc/)
This NRC updating process has indeed taken the people here into looking for names long forgotten.