My name Palak, is often used interchangeably with the word Palak (pronounced as Paalak and the Hindi word for Spinach). And you have no clue of the plight I have undergone because of this. Last weekend, I had to undergo a root canal treatment on one of my molars and the dentist before beginning with the treatment chirpily asked me, “So Palak, how do you like Paalak?”. And my reply was, “I don’t like Paalak but I hate that joke.” His intentions were to simply make me laugh before subjecting me to the excruciating pain but sadly I wasn’t even close to smiling. Since childhood, my name has been a medium for poking fun at me but honestly it’s not funny. My very own brother called me Palak Paneer-Methi Aloo ( Two vegetarian delicacies namely, Spinach with cottage cheese and Fenugreek with Potatoes) Chandna when we were kids and all I simply did was laugh it away because I could not come with an equally wittier name from him.
Honestly, screwing with someone’s name is completely off limits and by this I do not mean that your loved ones cannot call you names affectionately but cracking jokes centered around someone’s name are simply not funny. When people send me pictures of a restaurant menu with names of dishes starting with Palak, I can’t think of legitimate replies. Maybe I should send a LOL, or how about a ‘Not Funny, wait till I find one for you :P’ or simply a :). But then why should I indulge in self deprecating humor, at least not when it comes down to my name because it is my identity and not someone else’s bedroom or dinner table joke.
My mother tells me that one of my relatives wanted to name me Pankhudi (meaning Petal) but she did not agree because people could often turn around a few letters and call me a name which means deceitful in Hindi.What simply befuddles me, is that if she could be so farsighted as regards the name Pankhudi, then why the myopia about Palak.