By Radhika Chundru

Has your name ever been mispronounced? Does no one say your name right on the first try?

I face this problem. Since my name is not American, most people have trouble saying and spelling it. My name is Radhika, and unless you’ve ever met someone else with the same name, you probably would be thinking: “How do I even say that name?”

Although people have trouble saying my name, this problem never hurt me in any way. In fact, sometimes it’s even funny to hear how people think my name is said. But sometimes I wonder what it would feel like for everyone to get my name right on the first try. Unexpectedly, someone has said my name right on their first try before, and I was so shocked I asked them to repeat what they said. I understand that people do make mistakes and after I tell them how to say my name, I hope they do remember; but if they do mess it up again, it’s no big deal.

My name is very different, hard to pronounce, and often misspelled. Still, I would never want to change it. It’s something my parents gave me, and personally I like the way it sounds. During my daily life, the way it’s actually pronounced has been changed to something easy for everyone to say. There is an Americanized way to say my name, and then there’s an Indian way to say my name. The Americanized way is the one used more often during school and in public, but the Indian way is usually used by my family, relatives, and other Indian people. The reason I’ve changed my name to sound more Americanized during my daily life is because I’ve found that most people who are not Indian cannot pronounce it properly. I’ve tried to teach it to them, but I’ve found that they just can’t do it or get really confused by it. Thus, to make it easier for most people, I changed it.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not trying to change my name at all. I’ve just changed the way it is pronounced. I love to hear my name called both ways. I don’t prefer one over the other. I’ve gotten so used to the changed version, it seems just as familiar as how you would actually say my name in Indian culture.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is—although my name is not common, I would never want to change it. It’s a part of me that I can never change. It’s something that belongs to my identity and I could never take it away.