ache in my name

New short film from Vivek Shraya

ACHE IN MY NAME (short film) from Vivek Shraya on Vimeo.

I just watched this today and it resonated with me instantly.

Growing up with a name like Shamik was always an interesting scenario. It pretty much got anglicized in kindergarten where the pronunciation of the 'a' was like 'shack' instead of 'shah.' So the only people who actually said my name right was my family. Then both names became my names, and both names felt real. I've seen this happen with many other Indian names like the ones mentioned in the film. It's happened in other cultures too. I remember visiting my dad's village, Dharwad when I was 8 years old. My last name is Bilgi and some of the family friends called my brother and I the 'Beel-gee kids' and others said 'Bee-la-gi' ...and in Canada we grew up with 'Bil-gee.' I was confused but felt like I identified with the Canadian version the most. My Dad always called his village Dharwar and when I arrived all the signs said Dharwad. I later found out that Dharwar was how it was pronounced in our dialect of Kannada (Dravidian tongue spoken in the state of Karnataka). My family still refers to it as Dharwar.

I relate to this short film because I have always been influenced by my Eastern background and Western upbringing. Vivek's take on 'Viv-ache' vs 'Viv-ick' in his short film is a reminder to challenge our ideas of the right/correct pronunciations of our names...and hopefully speak to larger elements of identity via names.