Well, it had to happen someday. Day after freaking day, it was becoming apparent to me that I could not continue living in America under the name my parents gave me. It was causing me too much grief, testing my patience too many times and raising my blood pressure to such levels that vultures would start circling above me in anticipation. Every time I visited an eating joint, everytime I ordered pizza, everytime I had to make reservations for anything, people were having problems putting my name down on paper. Hell, even the Indian waiters in Indian restaurants, appeared to not be able to comprehend my name. While in Rome, do as Romans do, I guess?
And, so I had practically given up actually saying my name. Even to me, as to most of America, I had become a bunch of letters. And what is most frustrating is that my name is not even that hard to spell. I can only imagine what a "Chandrashekhar" or a "Hrishikesh" or a "Deviprasad" might be going through. But not my name. Anyone with enough intelligence to tie his own shoelaces should be able to convert my phonetic name into a bunch of letters on his own. But no, Americans, I guess strive for perfection. They need to know that they are spelling my name exactly as it should be, it doesn't matter even if I don't give a rats ass if they muck it up as long as they don't ask me to spell it out each and every goddamned time.
So, today, after spelling it out for the ninety millionth time for the ninety millionth teenaged girl standing behind the cash register, I finally had it. I asked my American colleague, who was right beside me what my new name should be. His immediate reply was "Joe". Yeah, I thought Joe should be simple enough. No ambiguities and containing only a single syllable. America should be able to handle that right? But, a couple of thoughts later, I realized that Joe was too Americanized. An Indian answering to the name "Joe" would not be very convincing. It would be like admitting to America that Joe was not really my name and that America had succeeded in defeating me, breaking me down mentally, forcing me to take a new identity. No, Joe wouldn't do. My pride wouldn't allow me to. But then I had a brainstorm. How about Jay? Jay was as easy, also contained only a single syllable and Jay was Indian sounding too. Jay contained the best of both worlds. And there seemed to be that certain undefinable something that gave "Jay" a high-flying maverick aura. Yes, it had to be Jay.
And so, today I go home, shed my tired, old, Indian name and lay it down to rest. It has worked hard for me, served me well and now it is time for it to retire and pass on the torch. It will still work for me part-time, when I'm filling out applications, or when they are beating it out of me during interrogation. But to America, now, I will no longer be known as a bunch of letters. I will be Jay. I will once again be complete.