First, a baby girl born in Uttar Pradesh was named 'Corona'. Then another boy in UP was named 'Lockdown'. And now, twins born in Chhattisgarh have been named 'Corona' and 'Covid'.
When asked why they named their newborns after a deadly virus that has already killed 50,000 people across the world in just a span of months, the twins' parents simply said that the names symbolised "triumph over hardship". The names would serve as a reminder and symbol of the tough times that the parents endured and lived through while giving birth to the children.
The Raipur couple isn't the only one to think that way. Father of baby boy Lockdown who was born amid (you guessed it) the 21-day lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 to contain the spread of COVID-19, chose the unusual name as the entire country was in lockdown and bearing the crisis together.
Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak in India, names like 'Corona', 'Lockdown', 'Covid', even 'Virus' have been doing the rounds across several Indian states.
While the choice of names may come as a surprise to many. After all, a virus is not the most auspicious of namesakes. In reality, though, babies are often named after disasters and calamities that impacted the world or made a dent in the history of a place, community or country. Especially those born amid a disaster.
The 2004 Tsunami earthquake that hit several parts of India's southern tip and other parts of South East Asia left massive debris and destruction in its wake. Homes and entire cities were swept away and over 2 lakh people lost their lives. Among those who did manage to survive, however, were several babies and expecting parents.
Thailand's Od Judet was 8 months pregnant when she was swept up by the waves that grew out of the Indian Ocean. She survived and went on to give birth to a baby girl whom she named (you guessed it again) Tsunami.
This a common practice for Americans, who often get creative while naming their annual hurricanes and rightly so as the names invariably end up in the repository of baby names for the so-called "disaster babies". Unceremonious though it may sound, babies are nevertheless born during disasters. It seems both death and life are unstoppable. In fact, disaster babies have quite a legend to their credit with several researchers attempting to find a correlation between disasters and birth rates.
While no conclusive evidence has so far come to light, some studies show that mild disasters that drive people indoors may lead to a temporary baby boom. And it is likely that many of these babies would be named after the disaster.
Granted, the COVID-19 pandemic is neither mild nor a natural disaster in the true sense of the term. But with 10 lakh people currently suffering from the disease, a disaster it is. And like any disaster worth its salt, it is posing a grave threat to life and social order and has driven people indoors like never before. A year from now, it would not be surprising to find a country full of little "Coronas" and "Covids" who lived to tell the tale.
It isn't just Indians. Filipinos are also coming up with virus-inspired baby names like "Covid Lorraine" and "Covid Bryant" amid the pandemic. The latter, in fact, represents not just the coronavirus pandemic but also basketball star Kobe Bryant who passed away in an aircraft crash along with his daughter earlier in the year. Two-tiered symbolism.
In a way, naming a child after a disaster or calamity that one survives could be a means to commemorate human victories and cope with tough memories. As mundane as it may be, survival is often a miracle. Especially so when disaster strikes in the face of an alien virus. Outliving crisis and emerging victorious can be a life-altering event and naming a baby who also survived that with its parents, albeit as a foetus, does have a kind of poetic beauty to it.
Moreover, names based on tragic events are can be life-affirming symbols of the victory of life over death. With coronavirus currently holding humankind hostage in their own homes, the world is trying its best to beat the sly enemy. And if it manages to outlive the virus, these babies may just end up as symbols of that victory.
But not before enduring a lifetime of MEAN name jokes in school.