Story Time: Hi, My Name Is Not Nadia.

Story Time:

My name is Nupur Saraswat. Nupur are the loud chirping bells on an anklet. They make sweet metallic sounds as the wearer walks. They announce the arrival of a bride, or a dancer. My mother named me. I am Nupur.

“Can you find an easier name?”, my ex-employer asked me just after I had signed the contract. I didn’t think he was serious. So I suggested something unorthodox like Nepal or Karma. He insisted that he was very serious. He asked me to find a name that was “easy to remember”. He handed me down ‘Nadia’, said it even had the same initial as my real name. Ironically, I had never felt so forgettable before.


Nadia is the name my ex-employers gave me. So Nadia I became. The girl who chose employment over identity. The girl who didn’t want to spend another summer working an unpaid internship so she picked the first offer she got. The girl who tried to remember the word ‘Nadia’ so much and so often through the day, that she started calling everyone else around her Nadia. “Why not?”, she mused, “It’s a perfect representation of misrepresentation.”

What’s in a name? Well I am glad you asked. The right to be remembered. The right to invoke memories at its mention. In a name is the right to ancestry and inheritance. In my name is my chirping ankle bells that remind me that I am accepted and loved. That so many of my kind and my family came before me. They lived full lives and died of interesting causes. But I, and I alone, am Nupur.


For the next one month I became Nadia. The day I quit, was the day my business cards came in. All one hundred of them. They had my picture on it. And, my name. Nadia Sarawsat.

They spelled Saraswat wrong.


Poem by Nabilah Bahrim

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