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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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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Bucket List

‘Oh well,’ said Dina, looking out of the kitchen window as she loaded the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. ‘I guess our Sunday walk is out of question now, what is it with Glasgow weather? It’s raining, hailing, snowing, windy and sunny all at once!’

‘Count your blessings,’ Billy said, as he licked the last crumb of bacon off his plate and stood up to clear the table. ‘We’ve had it lucky here, my girl,’ he said. ‘Look what’s happening to the poor people in Wales and other places in England, entire homes being washed away.’

‘True,’ she replied, ‘it’ll be nice to have a lazy Sunday indoors though. I think I’ll sort out my wardrobe, been meaning to do that for ages now. What are you going to do?’

‘I was actually thinking of making my Bucket List. Want to help?’ he asked her, getting together his notepad and pen.

‘That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever hear of William Stone,’ she mocked, ‘what on earth would you possibly put on it?’

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The Book Thief

‘I think I may have stolen some books,’ Cathy said to herself in horror.

Aborting the unpacking, she went looking for her husband, and found him in the kitchen where he was trying to rustle up a quick dinner from the contents of their almost empty ‘fridge. Neither of them had the energy or the wherewithal to go to the shops. The take-away fish supper they had planned earlier was unimaginable in this blistering heat.

‘Dan, I think we have sunk to a new low,’ she said, thrusting the two beautifully bound editions of the criminal goods at him. ‘We seem to have stolen books from the hotel’.

His expression was a comical mirror of her own, angst and mirth vying with each other, as she struggled to understand what had happened.

They had just returned from a week away at the Cotswolds. A well-deserved vacation after almost two years. And they seemed to have timed it with the one week of Indian summer that the United Kingdom had been blessed with. Scorching summer. Wall-to wall sunshine with temperatures in the thirties. The Scottish couple had not been prepared for the blast of heat that welcomed them as they stepped out of their airconditioned car.

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