What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Quoth a bard…
and a yogi.

I swipe left and right
on twenty-six profiles in a row
before I notice my fingers
brush aside names of a certain kind
before my mind even begins
to utter them.

I remember my mother laughing about how
her father told her she could marry anyone,
anyone, except – she pauses, all laughter gone.

And says,
‘We have very different cultures.’

And I nod,
at the fading sounds of evening azaan,
spooning another mouthful of yesterday’s biryani
into my mouth.

My playlists and bookracks and
Netflix watchlists are full of names I’m not allowed to match with.

My Uber driver flashes a grin as he asks me,
“Madam, aap Hindu ho?”
Absentmindedly, I tell him my drop location is JNU, err,
What? Oh, yes, I think, I mean – I am, I suppose, a Hindu.

He nods vigorously at my name
on his screen – an accident of birth,
a conscious choice reinforced
in a quarter-century’s worth
of government forms.

We have men across the river, he says,
In hundreds. “…if they ever trouble you, you let us know.”

And whom do I call if it’s you?
My question dies a silent death
so I don’t have to.

Amrita is a 25-year-old with an MA in Applied Economics from CDS-JNU, who writes to find goodness in a haywire world.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty