Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Names



Lips touch briefly and the tongue strikes the roof in quick succession. A name forms. It rolls around the mouth claiming its place. It is uttered in whispers. No one hears it; no one sees the pink tongue swirl delicious syllables. It’s just another name to the world, but the world to the one who will always turn back at the sound of it. Fingers trace its ebbs and crests; up and down, up and down, on the last page of a book. It is a secret pleasure in the course of a mundane day.

What is in a name, they say. It can make hearts race. Smiles form involuntarily. Some days there is a restlessness to find excuses to bring it up in conversations, just to savour it once more. Some days it is jealously guarded. It is strange how a name can no longer be uttered nonchalantly. Where does this trace of coyness come from? The thrill of saying a name, what with the risk of flushed cheeks!

Say my name, that’s another wish. Vowels are elongated adorably, while the consonants are rushed through; making the familiar sound of one’s own name so new and lovable. Like a virgin sound. One imagines the fingers writing the name. Another smile forms. Say my name, the wish repeats.

In the novel North and South, Thornton simply utters her name in the end. And that crumbles Margaret’s reserve, hearing him say her name, and the way he says it. No other confession of love is required. Just the name is enough. In just saying her name, he claimed her, begged her, and told he belonged to her. In the movie Dor, every month Meera called up her husband, thousands of miles away, for a hurried conversation. These calls deterred by nearly non-existent phone signals and eavesdropping neighbours lasted less than a minute. Yet before she hung up, she made a simple request. Say my name, she said. Meera, he chuckled. That kept her going for another month till she heard his voice again. I found it beautiful.

It’s subtle and very often goes unnoticed, this ability of names to create such a lump of joy in our hearts. It is taken for granted, attributed to the general malady of love. But just say the name of the one you love. Why did you smile?

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