|Caetano Xavier Figueiredo and |
Venançio José Pinto e Figueiredo, Batim Goa
The bestowing of a name is a reason of great significance since, it is carried to ones grave unless of course it is waylaid, frittered or render meaningless to ones sense of being. My mother Otilia named me after St. Venantius whose name she came across in a calendar published by the Salesians of Don Bosco, Matunga Mumbai. My father Bernard and she were pleased with the name, not knowing anything more than that Venantius (of Camerino) was a martyr born on May 18. Later I heard of Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, Latin poet and hymnodist, venerated during the Middle Ages as Saint Venantius Fortunatus. In late 2012 while perusing a dictionary of saints at the Pauline Book Store on 38th Street, I learnt that there were six saints by that name! Venny, was the diminutive coined by my mother, and as a child I was called Vennysan, and not at all intended to mimic the Japanese honorific –san. She knew very, very little English, but apparently her use of the word san was a cognate with the English son, inflected from a sound palette rooted in my mother tongue Konkani/Konknni, in which I would have been addressed as Venny baba (son) or Baba Venantius. Furthermore I was also called Bab/a Venaçio in letters to my mother from family in Goa, in essence living at a meshing of two languages Konkani and Portuguese. A threshold so to speak which I hope to explore in the near future.
Up until early adulthood, I was addressed as Venny only by family. It was only much later in New York that I realized that Venantius did not seem to sit well with many South Asians. in that, they could not be bothered to voice it. One does not endear oneself by deciding to call you by the name just cause you pal does. Maybe you do not know the relationships we have formed. Its about taking shortcuts and not meriting that embrace. In fact most of them had more than a decent grip of English, and included assorted graduate students, activists, and of course professors. I believe it was easier for these to get themselves to pronounce Csikszentmihalyi rather than hear themselves say Ve+nan+tius (shius, or tius). Go figure that out. Finding flow is not easy if one does not wish to live it on an ongoing basis! Looking back I now see that there was something terribly lazy about them. So Venny made it to the out groups (haha) and Venantius ensconced from their sorry ambits. What was worse was being addressed in shrill tones as Vinny by those of the same elan. Shudder. I had no intentions of being the Pooh at their march into the Postmodern.