photo of two tree stumps growing parallel to each other

Pillars of a home,
standing tall and yet apart,
holding up the roof.

Dealing with names

Please swipe through to view the full gallery. Artwork by Anpu, posted on Facebook.

This is fascinating to me. A lot of people in my life do all the right things, according to this artwork. And I appreciate it when people genuinely want to respect me and my ethnic name.

But I don’t care if you get my name wrong because I think we get too attached to names and labels and the cultural baggage that comes with them.

Colonisation created a global hierarchy. So did capitalism. Yes, it’s terrible that the world’s colonial history decimated hundreds of tribes and tribal languages. We should learn from that history. Languages aren’t meant to compete with each other for attention and recognition. Fighting for recognition doesn’t necessarily bring recognition. If we’re to live in one world together, we all need a common language to communicate. That means every one of us will have to make compromises. People like me, who aren’t native English speakers, may have to be ok with English speakers struggling with our names. The same way, English speakers will have to deal with a thick Indian accent if they want their software issues sorted and a rough African accent if they want their parents in aged care looked after. It’s called co-operative existence.

For me, a person is a person. As long as you’re polite and considerate and not racist, you’re fine. If you can’t remember my name, that’s ok. Because guess what, I often get Michael and Matthew mixed up. Beth and Beck are too much alike. By the time we get to Chris, Cris, and Kris, I’m dying. And don’t even get me started on Mick being short for Michael.

If you need an easier way to remember me, just ask. I’d do the same for you. We all take shortcuts sometimes.

Humans named things and each other so we can refer to them in conversation. That’s all. Don’t read too much into it. A name is a name. It’s not your soul. From where I come from, often, a name is a caste. It’s religion. It’s the foundation of hate crimes and human butchery. No one should strut around wielding it like a flag. That’s the kind of devotion that rips countries apart.

Names and labels are just signposts for a dirt road that’ll change and disappear over time. Just because no one will remember a dirt road 50 years from now doesn’t mean the road didn’t exist or serve its purpose. So what if you forget my name? For as long as my being was here and in your life, it’s served its purpose. That’s all we all are—signposts. Sometimes we have letters missing, sometimes we’re scarred or scratched, and some other times we’re just facing the wrong way. Regardless, here and now. If we are, we are.

What’s in a name when a rose by any other name would smell just the same?

My brain on covid – day 3

2:30 am: Gosh, why can’t I sleep?

2:45 am: I’m going to scroll through Instagram.

9:55 am: Oh. Wish I’d woken up earlier.

10:10 am: Urgh, the water tastes so weird.

2:00 pm: Huh. When did I fall asleep?

2:30 pm: I can’t even bite into an apple. Is this what old age will be like?

3:30 pm: Oh, rain. Glorious rain.

4:00 pm: Does my head hurt or am I imagining it again?

4:15 pm: I’m bored. 

4:30 pm: I’m going to do some university course work.

4:35 pm: Is my body aching?

4:36 pm: Don’t think so. 

4:38 pm: My head?

4:39 pm: No. 

4:41 pm: Do I need to refill my hot water bag?

4:42 pm: No, you’re not cold.

4:44 pm: Have I recovered from covid?

4:45 pm: It’s possible. But you still have to isolate for a few more days.

4:47 pm: Why do I not feel sick?

4:48 pm: Why didn’t my symptoms get worse?

4:49 pm: Did I even have covid if I didn’t suffer? How’s that ok?

8:30 pm: This is boring. I’m going to watch something.

1:00 pm: I’m going to bed. I’m perfectly fine. What’s wrong with me?

2:00 am: Why can’t I sleep?

My brain on covid – day 2

11:00 am: Argh, why’s it so bright?

11:02 am: Shit. I’ve overslept! It’s a weekday.

11:03 am: Blame covid. Go back to sleep.

11:15 am: I need to brush my teeth.

11:21 am: Why does my head hurt?

11:22 am: Stop complaining.

11:23 am: I don’t have a fever. I don’t have breathing problems. Am I even sick?

11:24 am: Yes. Why does my head still hurt?

11:25 am: Am I hungry?

11:26 am: I want coffee. 

11:27 am: Drink water. 

11:28 am: Oh, yes. Haven’t had any all day.

11:29 am: That’s probably why your head still hurts.

1:00 pm: Did I fall asleep again?

1:01 pm: Yes.

1:05 pm: Shit. Why’s it so bright outside? 

1:15 pm: Oh, my lower back hurts.

1:20 pm: It’s like there’s a big rock attached to my head and I have to put it down every hour or so because it’s too heavy to hold up.

2:00 pm: Why’s the time so slow? Thank goodness it’s Friday.

2:05 pm: Hmm, does my head really hurt or am I just making it up?

2:10 pm: I don’t feel sick. Am I just being sick because I feel like I have to be sick?

2:20 pm: What if that rapid test showed a false positive and I don’t have covid at all?

2:25 pm: What if this is just tiredness and jet lag from the 20-hour layover and the 33-hour journey back?

3:00 pm: What a lovely day.

3:03 pm: I miss cooking. 

3:05 pm: Why’s the time so slow?

3:30 pm: That’s it. I can’t work anymore. 

5:00 pm: What’s this new show, Broadchurch?

5:30 pm: This is like Dr. Who living a mundane life. I like this.

9:30 pm: Damn, I forgot to reply to work. 

1:00 am: Oh, boss has texted an hour ago. What’s he doing up so late?

1:03: I’ll just reply before going to bed.

2:00 am: I can’t sleep.

2:02 am: Where’s my hot water bottle?

2:30 am: Instagram’s full of stupid people doing stupid shit.

My brain on covid – day 1

3:17 am: Why am I up at this hour?

3:18 am: Because you’re cold. Refill your hot water bottle.

3:19 am: Do I have a proper socks somewhere?

3:20 am: No. All the ones you have are holey, and is of no use.

3:21 am: I’m going to look at thermal socks online. 

3:25 am: Go back to sleep.

3:26 am: I’m not sleepy. It’s probably the jet lag kicking in. 

3:30: What’s on Facebook, I wonder.

3:33: Oh, here’s a funny meme. I’m going to share it.

3:33 am: Go back to sleep.

3:34 am: In a minute. What should I say in the caption?

3:34 am: “I’m exhausted, jet lagged, and confused. Don’t take me seriously”?

3:35 am: Ha, ha, funny. Not.

8:00 am: Why the hell is it so bright outside?

8:01 am: Oh, oh, oh, my head hurts.

8:03 am: Why’s it so bright?

8:05 am: Do I have to get up?

8:07 am: Oh, my colleague’s texted. “Are you ok?”

8:08 am: …

8:09 am: …

8:20 am: Shit, can’t believe I fell asleep again. 

8:30 am: Get up! Brush your teeth! Drink coffee!

8:31 am: Mmm, coffee…

8:45 am: Oh my head hurts. Ouch, and my back. Didn’t know that could hurt.

8:46 am: Where’s my hot water bag?

8:48 am: Should I take a selfie of my lying on the bed with the hot water bottle over my back? 

8:49 am: …

8:50 am: Don’t be stupid. You’d not going to post it anywhere. 

8:51 am: I’m taking it anyway.

8:52 am: Don’t you dare post it on socials!

11:00 am: Why’s the time so slow?

11:15 am: I’m going to lie down a bit.

11:20 am: Why’s the time so slow?

11:30 am: Am I hungry?

11:31 am: I’m having a tea anyway.

11:34 am: Might as well have some bread with it.

12:00 pm: Why’s the time so slow?

12:01 pm: I don’t know! 

12:30 pm: My head hurts. I’m going to lie down a bit.

12:31 pm: You do that.

12:45 pm: I think I need a poo.

12:46 pm: Probably for the best.

12:47 pm: Do I have to get up, though?

12:48 pm: You’ll have a lot more work if you don’t.

12:48 pm: Sigh. In a minute.

1:25 pm: Why can’t I type properly?

1:28 pm: Why can’t I put words in the right order?

1:30 pm: Brain fog, probably?

1:31 pm: Can’t be. I can speak clearly and read fine.

1:32 pm …

2:00 pm: I can’t believe I did so much work today.

2:01 pm: Well, you did have a lot of time on your hands. And no where to potter around.

2:30 pm: My head hurts. I’m going to lie down a bit.

3:30 pm: Should I eat something?

3:31 pm: Probably. Are you hungry?

3:32 pm: Not really. But I wouldn’t mind another slice of bread. 

4:30 pm: Why does my head still hurt?

5:30 pm: I’m going to lie down for a bit.

5:45 pm: How wonderful it is to lie and bed and listen to the ambient sounds. 

6:00 pm: Why does my head hurt? I’m going to close my eyes for a bit. That might help.

11:00 pm: What the hell!?

11:01 pm: You’re cold. Refill your hot water bottle.

11:02 pm: Oh, ffs.