What’s in a Name

My name is Anjana Sen.

Some of my friends here in Glasgow do call me Anjana.

Then there are some who call me Unjaaana, Aenjena, Anjaanee, Angela, Anya, and my favourite, Anyaana.

It makes no difference, because, after all, what’s in a name?

I grew up in India, a country whose diversity is second only to her population. There are 22 official languages in the constitution, but as per the latest census, more than 19,500 mother tongues are spoken.

And then, there are the different dialects and pronunciations.

In Bengali, the language of my own community, I am called Aunjona.

When I did my under graduation in Madras, now Chennai, I was Yanchhanna.

In the north of the country, I became Unjna, or worse, Anju.

It never mattered, because, after all, what’s in a name?

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First Love

She was just a child
learning to be wild.
No pretence or guile
in that honest metallic smile,
Pure uncomplicated joy
which she spent on the boy
who squeezed her heart,
when they were apart.
Innocent buzz, in her head
as she giggled, asleep in bed.

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Travels with Tina

‘I have a confession, Bapi,’ I said softly. ‘Remember that scratch on Tina in ‘86? That was me, and I’m so sorry for having denied it all along.’

The monitors continued to beep rhythmically and there was no visible response from the man attached to them. This was on the 8th of November 2019. I had just flown thousands of miles from Glasgow to Calcutta and come straight to him in the ICU. The doctors and nurses, expecting me, had kindly drawn the curtains around the bed.

He slipped away the next day. I will never know for certain if he heard me that night, or indeed, was aware of me. But selfishly, it lightened my heart to have ‘come clean’ finally.

Tina was the fourth woman in his life, and the three of us were quite jealous of her from time to time. She was a blue Ambassador, TNS 1921, ergo Tina. Today, we would say teal, but those were simpler times, when blue was just blue.

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Happily, Ever After

Happily Ever After

Once upon a time, two young people met at a wedding.

No, it was not love at first sight. It was their own wedding they were meeting at.

Arranged marriages were not uncommon then, and he trusted his patriarchal father’s choice. All he wanted was someone who would adjust well to his military life.

She was made of slightly bolder stock and had asked her mother to find her a partner who would not drag her far away from her large and loving family.

Alas, neither of them had accounted for his maternal uncle who was the headmaster at her school. Who decided they were meant to be, and thus, it was writ in stone that they were to wed, ideal or not.

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Ma Aamar Bangali

Ma Amar Bangali

I feel your presence as I start to drive,
Muttering your prayer fervently.
And now that I am fifty-five,
I too whisper unselfconsciously.
‘Dugga Dugga, please keep us alive,’
Because Ma, Ma Aamar Bangali.

Chiffon and pearls, and Chanel Five,
Your pashmina draped so casually,
You were his perfect military wife,
Duties performed elegantly.
But at home, only crisp cottons you wore,
Because Ma, Ma Aamar Bangali.

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