Call Me by My Name

Call me by my name,
As I have fought for it.
A school teacher once told me that my name doesn’t have a meaning; I have to give it one.
Millions like me live and die in the sea of anonymity, but I ran, bruised and bounced back to carve my name.
Call me by my name as you don’t know who my father is;
His story was never written; but I will make sure mine is.
Call me by my name as I walked into a thousand rooms introducing myself, I filled a million forms explaining who I am and What I can be.
I spent my blood, sweat and tears sailing in a sea of anonymity.
Bitch behind my back,
Or pat my shoulder,
Or tell me where I’m wrong,
Laugh when I fall,
Mimic my tone,
Or compliment my resilience,
I have spent my whole life pushing the glass ceiling,
So, even when you criticise; I’m happy that I’m at least seen.
Our lives exist in statistics. We are a part of the population census, we make up for the literacy ratio and for the vaccination numbers. We are the vote bank.
They don’t make memorials in our names, we don’t get eulogies; our bodies evaporate and become death tolls.
We become death certificates hidden in government files that get dusted and eventually get forgotten.
Our PM doesn’t tweet our name when we die; he doesn’t even know we are alive.
Our lives are small. We die running after roti, kapda, makan. But I’m hungry and I want more.
And you better not tell me what I deserve.
Beware! We are lethal.
We are fire, and desire and we are water – we make our ways.
We are not here to revolve around the centre. We are not planets, we are the Sun. We give life, but come close and you burn.
Call me by name as I have earned it. I don’t want to be an obituary in a newspaper – I want to be the headline.
Will you remember my name, my existence, my fight?
Oh honey, I will make sure you do.

Janvi Sonaiya is a journalist based in Gujarat. She writes on taxation, politics and social issues.

The featured image is an illustration by Pariplab Chakraborty. To view more such illustrations, click here.