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In 20 years, I never heard my name mispronounced. It’s not hard: two syllables, three distinct letters, really just a couple of easy vowels with a soft bilabial consonant in the middle. Never has a substitute teacher pored over my first name, sounding out syllables then mangling it beyond comprehension like some sort of Key and Peele sketch. The gloriously vanilla name my parents blessed me with has never caused me a day of grief… never on American soil, that is. Starting seven weeks ago, Abby has been replaced with Abhi, Abvi, Avi, Abey, Evie, Eva, Addy, Eddie, and my personal favorite, “Aunty ABCD,” which inspired this blog post.

I consider it pretty hilarious that nobody here can form those two vowels separated by a soft bilabial consonant in quite the way I’m used to. In all fairness, I’m only just catching on to the most common of Bengali names—and roughly at that, because apparently I’ve been mispronouncing some of my students’ names for nearly two months now.

Names are interesting. They’re vital enough that I hear families can’t take their babies home from the hospital without them, yet I can name several folks whose given names are not they ones they are introduced with. In the Bible, we read of Abram/Abraham and Sara/Sarai, given new names to reflect God’s new covenant with them. The hero of Francine Rivers’s Christian fiction novel Redeeming Loverenames the heroine, his wife, several times over the course of the story to reflect the seasons of their life together. This, I feel, is a little something like my life this summer.

This summer, my name has been pretty slippery. If you consider the meaningfulness of names, that’s pretty accurate. Who I am during this particular season cannot really be pinned down, either. I am a different person every day: yesterday a hopeless tryhard, today a confident Zumba dancer, tomorrow who knows? I am not the same teacher with every one of my students, because it’s impossible to expect each of my special needs kids at JDNM to work in the same way. I am not the same teammate in relation to all of the girls here. I am a different person in the morning than I am in the afternoon than I am in the evening than I am in those last few moments before bed as I’m journaling about my day.

I am Abhi I am Abvi I am Avi I am Abey I am Evie I am Eva I am Addy I am Eddie I am ABCD.

Next week I’ll go back to being Abby, the same as I was for twenty years and two weeks before my DukeEngage in Kolkata. I hope the old name still fits.

P.S. My condolences to the Big Bazaar customer service worker who had to take down my full name when I exchanged a top I bought. It’s not your fault you had to deal with the monstrosity that is Muehlstein.