call me ra.

My birth name is legendary.

Sri Radha, Source
Sri Radha, Sourc

In terms of the spirit of the name, I think the Western world equivalent would be Guinevere.   When you hear it, you never just hear the name.  You hear the beloved story.

You might think of True Love, or Treasure, or Great Misfortune, or Mischief, or Lady Warrior Spirit, or maybe even Betrayal — but it all depends on how you heard the oft-tired tale and what you think of the players.

My name is Radhika.

Radhika?
Radhika?

I think it’s a very pretty name, but it can be a mouthful and it’s easily mispronounced, so I have really never gone by it.

The classically-shortened moniker is Radha or Radhe.  I’ve been called both my whole life.  The “dh” is a soft sound, and Radha is pronounced the way Americans think British people say the word “rather”.  This is the name I used through school because it was the simplest, safest version.

 

Life happened then– furiously and fabulously.  I started working and became known as RJ.  My nephew was born and called me Rara.  I married Dave and my last name changed socially — if not legally — and the J part of “RJ” ceased making sense.  Then, he changed his name.   My last names switched rapidly here, too– Jaini, Martinez, Queen. I started a blog, based off a nickname which was based off the nickname of a nickname.  I went to prison and Rara was shortened to Ra by my favorite correctional officer.  My husband liked it and absorbed it fully.  It was the last word he said to me.

blitzen-rarasaur

Each variation of my name is sprinkled with happy memories and painful memories and I use them at random, depending on whatever seems most efficient.  I answer phones as R.J., and introduce myself to bankers and officers as Radhika.  I call myself Ra, and tell others to call me Rara or Radha.   I don’t actually use Rarasaur in real life at all, except in stories where I’m talking about the louder piece of my personality or my blog, but wouldn’t that be fun on a business card?

rarasaur

The truth is: I don’t care what you call me.  I really don’t.  You are you, and who I am to you is singular to our relationship. 

nicknames

There are feelings wrapped up in my names, of course.  Big ones.  Potent ones.  But they flash and they fizzle, and I don’t feel them for more than a micro-fractured millisecond.

rarasaur

Radhika is a beautiful name, but it hasn’t been mine since I stopped wearing bows in my hair.  No one knows how to pronounce it and it’s a little more everything than I am.

This is Radhika.

balloon

Radha doesn’t bug me one iota.  It’s a compromise name.  It was invented for the General You to be able to refer to the Obvious Me.  It’s a safe name for those afraid of syllables or the less-than-obvious me.  At some point in my life, it was very important to offer people that tether.  It matters less now.

This is Radha.

tethered

R.J. is catchy, easy to spell, and basically meaningless.  It often reminds me of the man who came up with it– the one who sent me to prison and hurt my heart, but mostly it reminds me of why I bear no ill-will towards him.

This is R.J.

rj

No one likes saying Rara, it seems.  It’s a little too childish, fanciful, and nonsensical.  This is Rara.

balloons-2

And this is Ra.

Balloon Girl, by Banksy
Balloon Girl, by Banksy

 

People keep asking me to pick, and I keep explaining that I’m a little bit of all these names all the time. I feel like the fancy of Rara sharpened against the reality of RJ. I feel like the wild colors of those leftovers– muted by the comforting compromise of Radha and then darkened to the highest contrast by the extravagance of Radhika.

Right now, I feel like Ra.

It’s a little sad.  A lot darker, more gritty.  It’s smaller, sharper, and its permanence is radical and imprinted.  It’s fragile in a way that suggests I’m barely holding onto my last syllable.

But to me, it’s a victory, because “barely” doesn’t count when it comes to living.  We do or we don’t– and no matter how dark or flattened I’ve become– I am still holding on.

So if you can’t find the name that suits who I am to you– call me Ra.
I’ve earned it.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

If you could change my name to anything, what would you change it to? Do I call you the right name or would you prefer something different? Do you like balloons as much as I do? (Does anyone?)

172 thoughts on “call me ra.

  1. I guess I can’t think of anything but a laura, though I have had various nicknames. I’ve used Mac as a name at various jobs. My middle name is Mclaren, my mom wanted to use that as my first name. But then a hurricane blew up in the gulf right before my birth, hurricane laura.

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  2. My name is Mary Beth. I used to hate it because I thought I should have been named Mary Elizabeth. I later learned that my mother had had another name picked out for me, but someone else “stole” it before she could use it. Imagine that. A stolen name. Now I am used to my name and think it fits me, unlike the first choice name. I think Ra has a good ring to it for you now. It sounds powerful, but also speaks to the difficult changes you are dealing with.

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  3. Here’s the thing: I like all of your names. I like your long, beautiful lyrical name. I like your playful, online name, which seems to be both you and not you. I like your short, newly given name. And I’ll probably use them all–interchangeably, and in sequence, and simultaneously (because I have many tongues, it would seem).

    Here’s something to consider, though: Ra was the Egyptian Sun God. The god of death and rebirth. Of destruction and creation. As Ra’s bright disk traveled through the sky, it would warm the world, and then vanish at night, only to be reborn with the dawn.

    Consider that, even if the pronunciation is a little different.

    Names are complicated.

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  4. I instantly thought of She-Ra when I read the title of this post 🙂

    I don’t have a name that works for a nickname (outside of going by “E” on WP), but boy does my little guy. His name is Elijah, but we usually call him Eli. Sometimes the whole name, sometimes Lijey (which I adore), sometimes Li-Li or Eli Mack (a combo of his first and middle nickname). It was a wonder he knew his name by the time he turned two.

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  5. I like Ra. And Rara, but right…a little too…something? And how to pronounce it… rah-rah or rar-a? RJ is cool. Rarasaur is very cool.
    Names are funny. I have changed my last name twice. I have changed my first name many times. It’s odd because some old friends know me by one name, and other friends by some other name. I’ve never been one person, so how could I only have one name?

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  6. HI there Rara…which is what I call you in my head and the name that I don’t mind saying at all. But I love your birth name and will use it if I ever meet you in person.

    Having a name like mine, Kirsten (K”ear”sten) was a hardship growing up just because people refused to learn it. Either you knew it or you didn’t and it was as if there were some people who just didn’t want ‘to know” me . I was KK for most of life as a nickname. My maiden name was Kovaleski so KK fit and I liked it because it meant that I meant something to my friends and classmates. My family mostly called me “Kirst” and that stuck for a while. When I was 22 I met a boyfriend who was the first person to call me “Kir” and I remember thinking…”I’ve found my name! This one, this nickname feels good and right” And so it stuck until now.

    My mom, sister and stepdad still call me “Kirst” and I like that, it’s old, familiar and good because it’s my family. I have one friend from High School that still calls me KK and I love when she does because it’s
    “our thing” and my husband calls me “Honey” and while it is no nickname to Kirsten it’s the one I like best from him.

    THANK YOU for this story of your name, I enjoyed reading it and all the comments. ❤

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  7. Hello, Ra. I unfortunately have never liked or embraced my name, Cheney. It is also hard for people to pronounce and understand, but it’s lack of consonants make it hard to make nick-names of. I don’t really have any nicknames. In high school I went through a goth stage and my close friends would joke and call me Whips & Chains or Chains & Leatha.. nothing stuck. I wish something would. Maybe I should just change my name!

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  8. I don’t know where you were brought up, but I’ve known a lot of Radhikas during my time on Earth, and I think it’s a beautiful name. So is Rarasaur, though. If I could be anything I wanted, I think I’d like to be a Rawrasaur. It’s sassy, it’s fun and sounds like it’d be great in bed.

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  9. So the funny thing is that a few years ago you and your husband migrated my blog from the Blogger swamp over to WordPress. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to develop a respectable following with a lot of fun word play in the comment section. (Because, as we all know, posts are nice, but the party is in the comment section.)

    So my name for you is Savior. Provider. Gift-Bearer. Because I love my blog. It’s the only artistic endeavor that I participate in. And you did that for me. (At a very reasonable rate, I might add.)

    Funny thing #2. When I got married, I took my wife’s name. Practicing a new signature is a challenge!

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    1. No one called me by my last name till I went to prison. And once I was there, I was totally baffled by it and kept forgetting to answer to it. Jaini sounds like a first name anyway… super confusing!

      I like Cutter. 😀 When the day finally comes that we get together for a BBQ, I’ll call you Cutter… even if everyone thinks I’m crazy. 😉

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  10. Since I love the imagery of Rara, I must choose it… but wait, the Ra image is also delightful (I mean, who doesn’t love a Banksy image?) Wonderful names, all and you deserve all of them.
    Love balloons. They make me smile. You make me smile. 🙂
    My parents named me Donna and but by the time I hit my 20’s I was Donnae… everything in me ached for the ‘e’. Now I am donnae/travelling crone. Just like the visuals of all lower case.

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  11. I’ve fought long and hard for my nicknames not to derive from my given name, so I don’t change people’s names, not unless I’m asked to. So if you are Ra now, that is what I shall call you.
    Balloons have a special place in my heart after what happened last year, but I doubt I love them more than you do ^^.

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  12. I guess I got stuck on Rara too, but I like all of the various names… interestingly, my daughter and I have had this discussion several times. Both she and I have had multiple name changes, and each change as signified many other changes and is associated with so many emotions. She goes by the Hebrew name I gave her at birth, now that she lives in Israel, but her family/I call her by the English name I gave her. Visiting her here in Tel Aviv, that is a constant source of confusion, as people look strangely at me, when I refer to her by a name they don’t know… her fiancé and I have shortened both to the letter L, so that neither of us is confused when talking to each other … about her. Hmm, so like you, my girl has many names. As do I. Lovey is the name I like to call my new grand baby; his real name is Amitai.

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  13. Hi Rara! I like Rara. It’s unusual but will call you whatever you like. Because I think one’s name should be his/her own liking. I love balloons. What matters most is we love you. Have a nice time dear.

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  14. Hi Ra!
    So glad to have found you, oh namesake of a rockin’ Goddess! So, you were called Radha, Radhe whereas yours truly was called Radhi. Just like you but eons ago, I wrote this about the many versions of my (our) name heard post-immigration to the True North. 🙂

    Thanks for the follow but, if it helps to know, I’ve stopped blogging since Dec. 2013. It was a lovely journey that now continues via reading & making comments (an instant cure for writer’s block). 😉

    I’ve read several (read: almost all) of your posts – what a beautiful and brave way to convey the hell you’ve experienced. It’s as if the hero within us emerges once the wounds are made vulnerable even though I wish it (life) weren’t always so. I’d prefer life to be quiet, simple and uncomplicated but even the horse I’m flying on thinks it wishy-washy……what a neighsayer! [Just a lame attempt to make you laugh.]

    Keep rockin’ and rollin’ along, Ra – your honesty and warmth are much-needed in life and in virtual reality or so I feel. Now that I’ve introduced myself like a propah lady….um…fellow-Goddess, I shall merrily hit the “Like” button in all the posts I’ve read. In case of a notification-overload, too bad coz you asked for it! 😀

    ~ Radhika (who prefers balloons that don’t take her for a ride)

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