- “Here, Miss.”
I knew it was coming, before she’d even started reading the names off the register; I knew.
The teacher’s brows furrowed as she peered at my name, questioned the placement of the consonants - the awkward o’s, the lonely u, the solitary j.
Perhaps it was a misprint? A flaw in her systematic list of perfect names.
She stuttered, made it past the u, got to the o’s and completely butchered my name. Really, she should be commended for her valor; most teachers just skip my name on the register entirely.
"Don't you have a nickname?"
No, how dare you.
My name is the home my dadi left behind on the wrong side of the border. My name is the way my abba looks at my amma. My name is my amma's hoarse voice singing along to Nazia Hasan while washing the dishes. My name is the melanin in my skin, the beauty mark that sits atop my lip. My name is saffron and ginger. My name is spun sugar and shattered stars. Gold bangles on thin wrists. My name is a silent scream, a familiar sadness, the taste of home. My name is unchartered territory. My name is the Arabian Sea and Kashmiri chai and the Karakoram peaks all rolled into two syllables. My name is a silent vigil for the country that cradled me in her arms and called me daughter. My name is Karachi drumming out its own heartbeat. My name is the melody of gunshots and bombs punctuated by the rhythm of a koel song – the music of new beginnings. My name is a verb – rising, exalting. My dadi’s hopes, my family’s future.