Her voice shaking with joy, my friend shared her happiness with me. After eight long years waiting to become a grandma, she had just learned that her daughter was expecting.
Like all Iranian mothers she had begun to worry after the first few years had passed without a grandchild on the way! Private conversations, gentle reminders, wishful sighs, offers of help and even a suitcase full of hand-knitted baby clothes had no effect on her only daughter. She had almost given up on holding a grandchild in her arms when she heard the good news. She could not wait to let everyone know that soon she will be a grandma.
We talked for a while, sharing experiences about being a mom for the first time, enjoying our children, and things we wished we had done! She then asked if I could give her some ideas about names. Her daughter was looking for a bi-cultural name that was not too common, such as Sara, Layla or Mona.
I had struggled with the choosing a name when my own daughter was born. I remembered that I had made a list and I promised my friend that I would forward it to her.
Looking at the old list, I realized that a little updating was in order as some of the names seemed so “dated”. I began to think about the names of my own friends and their children, my mother's friends, names I had heard or read about in books and memoirs and noticed a pattern. You can tell the age of a person by their name. For instance, how many two-year-olds do you know with names such as Shahin, Mahin, Simin, Parvin or Nasrin!?
I started to think of names that are easy to pronounce, sound pleasant, have a beautiful meaning and are bi-culturally acceptable. I remembered some very different names from past eras; names that we seldom hear, but are so poetic and beautiful they make you imagine the moon, the sun and the plains:
mAhroo, sonbol, mAhrokhsAr, yAs, mahtAb, golchehreh, khorshid, mAhrokh, shabAhang, narges, kokab, afrA, mAhbanoo, golAb, sarvenAz, golrokh, golnAz, shabnam, golbAn, mAhvash, lAdan, mAhchehreh, shidrokh, parvAneh.
Surprisingly, some old names are very sensual. They bring to mind images of Persian miniatures or a Qajr prince in his harem frolicking with his favorites! Like:
delband, delpasand, vesAl, delbar, shAdi, mehrnAz, deldAr, mehrAvar, nAzanin, delArAm, parinAz, negAr, hoori, shifteh, mehrvarz, sAghi, shAhed, paricheher, parivash, and also delAvar, aziz, pesartalA, and bAlAtan!
xAle (pronounced khaa-leh, maternal aunt in Persian) is an old timer who grew up in Iran when words such as miraab, maayeh khamir, aab-anbaar and haavan were part of daily life. Through stories and remembrances of old days, she will be sharing with us part of our past.