I wanted to be named Veronica.
To sound like I belonged in The Babysitter’s Club, like I went over to Amy’s house for milkshakes and watched pop shows on the couch. My school-teacher, Mrs Connors, would glide into my name on the register, instead of halting, hesitating, like a fearful bunny careening into a vehicle. I wanted, always, to stop the ambulance from reaching such a scene, from collecting the mangled pieces. My name. Roadkill. I wanted to never reach the doctor, never get stitches, never be healed if it meant scarring – my name. A wound.
I did not want to be named Vamika.
What I wanted was an extra syllable. I was off-beat. My name. An unfinished lyric. My mother told me I was named after a Hindu goddess. She seemed important. She had many arms with many weapons and rode a tiger. She was always seen alone. On the quiet, pink evenings that my parents drove to the temple to pray and I, to mouth words, I began to spend more time kneeling in front of her idol. I wished for her trident to come rescue the flailing bunnies on the road. And then, she’d come and sit on the couch with me to talk about pop, and laugh, together, about how everyone got us wrong. Our names. Our selves. Veronica would not be invited.
Artwork by Lisk Feng, “When Marnie Was There”