If you’ve read my first ever post, you would know that I am a woman of many names. All through my life, I’ve always had a ton of nicknames. I guess my name is very nickname-able cause everywhere I went, from school to college or work and even amongst relatives, I’ve had different nicknames. As I moved countries, newer nicknames were added to the tally. From Ninu to Nini to Nin to Niko to Nenne and more recently Ta. I’ve seen more than my fair share of nicknames and the source of all the names being my proper given name, Ninitha.
I remember that it was when I was about 13 that I first began to wonder what my name meant. Up until then I was perhaps oblivious to meanings of names. When I was 13, I had a little niece and I helped my sister pick out a name for her. I had poured over baby books cause my sister wanted a ‘meaningful’ name and that is when I realised the meaning of my name, or the lack of it.
In my part of the world there is a very funny tradition, where people just call their kids extremely meaningless names. Yes, parents do that. ON PURPOSE. They smush their names together to call their kid something or their call him something, perhaps meaningful yes, but without a care in the world for how the kid will get through high school and college with a name like that. Case in point, meet my friend ‘Niceboy’. I swear I am not exaggerating but I do have a friend who is called nice boy, as one word – Niceboy. There is also a ‘Peacemol’, peace being the English word peace and ‘mol’ being the local word for daughter or girl. If you visited us, chances are you would run into a ‘BlueLotus’ or a ‘Sweety’ or a ‘Pinky’. You might even meet a ‘Rambo’ or a ‘Karl Marx’ , yes with the surname too. It might be the fad now to call kids names of fruits or abstract names but people in my state have been calling their kids weird names for ages. So take that Kanye West if you thought your North West was ‘smart’. We’ve been ‘smarter’ a whole lot longer.
The other habit, as I mentioned earlier, is to smush together the names of the parents and make a new name. Say the mother is Lily and Dad is Francis, rest assured their little girl will be called Frilly. The resultant name need not even have a meaning and even a obscure sounds will do. I am surprised that even in this day and age, educated, worldly friends of mine still follow this path to name their kids. Recently a friend of mine had a baby who they named after a mutation of their names. It sounded alright, except it means dandruff in the local language, something I was mortified when I heard, but the parents did not seem to care.
I will forever be grateful to my parents for not having used either of the paths above to name me. My name (thankfully) is neither a mutations of my folks’ names or is it something ‘meaningful’ like Niceboy. I was just Ninitha. However, after having checked out all the names possible for my little niece and aided my sister’s search for a meaningful baby name, I was now uber curious to know the meaning of my name.
As my Dad was in the Navy and had traveled widely, i was sure my name had exotic origins. I imagined him having heard of this name during some of his foreign sojourns and naming me after it. But my Mum quickly shot down my flights of imagination when she said that she has made up my name. Just like that. Apparently, around the time I was born, Anita was the trending name and so my Mum gave it her own twist and called me Ninitha. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Not only was my name cooked up, it did not have any exotic backing to it either. I was merely an Anita with an N. So off I went to scan the world wide web, determined to find a meaning. My theory was that, that even though my name lacked a meaning in the languages I knew, perhaps it did in any of the other languages of the world.
My search lasted all of 4 years, 4 long years at the end of which I finally stumbled upon the meaning. Ninita in Japanese meant ‘Little Girl’. I finally had a meaning and a meaning I liked. Though I am not little by any stretch of the imagination, I was after all ‘Daddy’s little girl’.
Pic credits: http://www.decoration-creations.com