Dear parents from 20 years ago,
I know you’re excited about me, this little late-in-life baby. I will easily be your most difficult and destructive child and with you two being in your 40s, you’re already pretty burnt out. But I have other issues to take up with you.
Don’t put a silent letter in my name.
I can understand the temptation. After moving to Canada from India more than a decade ago, you want to make sure your children have a piece of your culture with them for life. You want to make sure they stand out in a crowd, that they have strength of character and guts and gumption.
Do not put that silent letter in my name.
In later years, Mother, I will learn that it was your husband, your foolhardy husband, who chose the spelling. The name will start as Sachi, said as it’s spelled, who is the wife of the Hindu god, Indra. This will develop into Saachi, meaning either truth or ambidextrous. Then, sometime between your first trimester and the moment I ruined your lives, it’ll turn into “Scaachi” but with the original pronunciation. It isn’t a word in any accepted language.
YOU CAN’T EVEN GOOGLE IT, MOM. I AM THE ONLY RESULT.
When Siri becomes a thing in 20 years, I will hate you so much more.
My name makes some things harder, like crossing the border, spelling my name over the phone and being 8 years old and overweight in public school, but I’ll give credit where it’s due. It has its upsides:
- scaachi.com will always be available
- affirmative action
- it makes some people want to talk to me more
- it makes others avoid me altogether
I will often wonder what it was that compelled you to add that extra a, that silent c. I’ll wonder if you two were drinking and thought it was a good idea. So it goes when alcohol is involved, what sounds like a good idea at night is often disastrous when the morning calls.
Father: What about Sachi?
Mother: That is a nice name that is an actual word.
Father: Okay, but let’s add an extra a.
Mother: That’s a little gratuitous if you ask me, but sure, it’s still technically a word.
Father: And a silent c right after the s, just because.
Mother: I had all the wine! Look at how all the wine is gone!
Father: I hope she never dates ever.
Mother: I found more wine, I found more wine!
If that’s how you decided, you can tell me. I promise I won’t be mad.
The decision to give me this first name isn’t improved by our last name. Something that should be pronounced phonetically as “cool” is instead “coal,” and white people across the world stare at me, confused, as I explain that my name is actually “Sa-chee Coal” and not “Skatchee Cool.”
Our family crest should be a dragon eating a unicorn or something else that doesn’t make any sense.
The bitterest icing on this cake? My middle name. You’ll claim that it comes from my paternal grandmother, but what you won’t recognize is that it’s one letter off from being the same name as the female lead in a very famous 1955 novel where the character has underage sex with her stepfather.
(I don’t want to ruin it for you guys at home, but here’s a hint: the name of the book is Lolita. Okay, no more hints!)
I suppose, dear Mother and Father, this name has always left me with choices. I will always have a decision at Starbucks when making an order. When they ask for my name to scribble on the cup, should I sheepishly answer with ‘Pam’ and carry my misnamed latte all day to avoid the trouble?
Or should I take some pride in my troubling but unique name, extra letters and all? “It’s Scaachi. No, S-c-a— yes, I said c. C like cat. Not Kit Kat, like the animal. A meow-meow cat. Yeah, S-c-a-a-c— yes, two a’s. Two a’s after the first c. S-c-a-a-c-h-i. I not y. Yeah, it’s a silent c. I don’t know why, my parents named me, I didn’t. It means ambidextrous. No, I’m not. Well, I don’t know why they picked it, maybe you should ask them. Oh, so what, your name is any better? ‘Todd?’ Great, Todd, thanks, you’re clearly the authority on what’s reasonable with your two nose rings, pigeon tattoos, and aspirations to be the next Criss Angel. JUST GO GET MY COFFEE.”
I’m going to be angry with you for a long time about this minor strife, Ma and Pops, but after a couple of decades, I’ll decide that I’d rather the extra c than be another ‘Todd.’
Besides, I’ll take any reason to feel martyred and indignant, and this gives me a life-long excuse.
(PS – All the times I’ll come home smelling like smoke? It’s not my friends, it’s me. It’s always, always me.)