Int’l Label Day 2015

labelme

My name is Ra.

It’s a nickname, for Radhika Kumari Atma Ram Jaini.  My CDCR number is WF0124.  It is active until my probationary period is up.

In prison, they’re not allowed to call you by your assigned ID number.   They can use it, but they have to throw your last name in the mix, too.  I was Jaini 24, or Jaini 124, or Jaini WF0124 until staff realized I responded much more quickly if they called me Rara or Ra.

This attempt at retaining an inmate’s humanity is written in the book that protects the rights of an incarcerated person, the Title 15– a little pamphlet reissued year after year, written in casual legalese.  Of course, casual legalese is still a language most don’t understand and the balance of abiding by the word and enacting the necessary effects is a standard bureaucratic mess.

My name is Radhika.

It’s a name that means accomplishment.  Standing in a prison medicine line, I waited with a woman whose name meant pride-of-a-generation, every inch of her dark skin and profile a testament to the culture that birthed her.  I thought how I must look the same to others.  You can’t see the Texan on me, or even the Mexican in most lights, but you can trace the origins of my name through the flow of my profile, the hues of brown in my skin.

People with names such as ours, she said, should not be here.  It’s good they don’t call us by name.  We don’t deserve ours.  I mourn the loss of mine.

I was prisoner WF0124.

Unlike the woman I met in line, I didn’t grieve my name and its beautiful roots.  I didn’t miss being Indian or Mexican — content to be a checkboxed “other”.  I didn’t miss being known as a techie or a professional, geek girl or educated woman.  Most of those labels don’t even make sense in a world where computers barely exist and the most intellectually-taxing job given to inmates involves keeping five stacks of papers separate from each other.  And though I missed being a wife, sister, friend, daughter– I didn’t miss the labels.  Those are things that I define in my life, not things that have defined me.

When things are taken away from you, you realize how little you miss.   You realize what you think is important about you, because when you meet a stranger in a prison medicine line, you get to decide what they know about you.  You get to decide what they remember about you.

Five cells and 300 miles later, I ran into that girl again.  She looked good and healthy.  She was teaching algebra to an eclectic group of women.  I patted her on the shoulder as I walked by and said, “If I looked up pride of my generation in the dictionary, I think I’d see exactly this sort of picture.”

She smiled.

Hey Ra, she said.  Are you still magical?

Yes, I laughed as I walked away, wondering what on earth I told her in that line so long ago, but not really worrying about it…

Because it was obviously honest.  I was born Radhika, and I call myself Ra, and I lived as WF0124 for awhile.  You can call me anything you want because it doesn’t matter.  You’re not defining me, only summoning me.  And I am magical still.

I call it Intuu.

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Happy Label Day, friends. 

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Juliette & Clara from VampireMaman.com
Juliette & Clara from VampireMaman.com

 

Ellen from GraniteStateWalker.Wordpress.com
Ellen from GraniteStateWalker.Wordpress.com

 

Lizzi from Summat2ThinkOn.WordPress.com
Lizzi from Summat2ThinkOn.WordPress.com

 

Vanessa from Vanessence.wordpress.com/
Vanessa from Vanessence.wordpress.com

 

Melissa from PsychoBabblePants.Wordpress.com
Melissa from PsychoBabblePants.Wordpress.com

 

nano BLOODY AWFUL POET
Bill from BillFriday.com

 

The Epitomy of Fashion 2
Lyn from TheEncouragingScribe.Wordpress.com

 

wordsmith
Jackie from ToBreatheIsToWrite.com

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NanoPoblano, NaBloPoMo

urbanddictionary-internationallabelday

And you, what’s your label today?

45 thoughts on “Int’l Label Day 2015

  1. I don’t comment much Ra, because all you write humbles me and I wonder what I can possibly add that brings value. However, today I am commenting because I do want you to know that I have been a quiet follower and behind the scenes cheer leader on your team for a couple of years now. Your spirit as an overcoming inspires me and makes me grateful that I am a blogger and that I found you. You bless my life as you enrich both my blogging experience and that of others. Thank you for not allowing others to lessen who you are because of past challenges. And yes Ra, you will always be magical – some people just are 🙂 Linda

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Oh Linda, how kind. *super big hugs* Thank you for coming by to celebrate Label Day with us, and for your quiet cheers that I hear in my soul when I feel like I just might be losing this game of life. Thank you for blogging, and for sharing your heart. Happy Label Day, chica. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀 That’s because we ARE pretty spiffy. You know, my original release date was after Intl Label Day and I was bummed to have to miss it. Only a small group of us played this year, a fraction of years prior, but … it’s still so nice, and I’m still so proud… and just so dang grateful. Thank you for participating, Jackie. That book looks beautiful. Not quite as beautiful as your eyes, but that’s a hard thing to beat… 🙂

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      1. Aw, thank you so much Rara. 🙂 It was meant to be that you got out in time for this. We may be a small group, but there will be many more next year. I am always optimistic. 🙂

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  2. I think I need a haircut and those purple earrings don’t really go with the shirt 🙂 Just love your post for International Label Day, Ra. It’s so…just so you 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are indeed magical, and may I add, probably magically delicious, like a luck charms marshmallow. I see a liberated half/woman, half/fairy type of being. ( Did I forget also part dinosaur?) BTW in numerology 24=6 , which = love. just sayin’ ❤

    love, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, I have another song for you. It’s by Iron Maiden so you have to have a pretty strong constitution (but I’m guessing you do). Anyway it’s a song called The Prisoner and it starts off with a quote from the movie of the same name “I am not a number, I am a free man”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I’m an international label day drop out. I’ve been thinking about it on and off for days. I’ve come up with nothing other than it’s possible I might for honesty sake have to label myself as contrary because as soon as *I* try to label *myself* I immediately get all contrary on my own ass and decide that there is no way I’m whatever label I’m trying on.

    Contrary – that’s me.

    (“No it’s not, I’m not always contrary! Who wants to be contrary anyway! I’m agreeable sometimes….” )

    SEE!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. From one Radhika to another (called mostly Rads, once Ra, to a dear friend), my absolute best wishes for the journey ahead. I am so proud of you for owning your story and spreading light! Keep Ra-ing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like Jessie I’ve struggled to pick a label otherwise I would’ve sent you a picture, sorry! I actually try to avoid labels because they’re already so commonplace. Society likes to package things up and fix people under one banner, especially in the media. Once you’re labelled – deaf or autistic for example – you’re explained away and people immediately form certain expectations of you.

    I know that’s not at all what you’re doing here though, and it’s a wonderful idea, really. I just had a very hard time finding a label that fits. When I was little I would’ve said ‘inventor’; as a teenager it probably would’ve been ‘dreamer’; now, I’m not so sure. The ones above are wonderful though – thank you all for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Labels are interesting things. Especially, in light of I just got back from grocery shopping where I was reading labels and comparing prices. I shop at three different stores to save money and stock up. I do NOT want to have to shop next week.
    It is also interesting because just the other day I was cataloging ALL of the jobs paid and volunteer I have had, a VERY long list, and how I should write a blog about it but then it would be a very long one.
    I used to hate labels until I realized I could make up my own. Now I love them. However, I do think the funniest one I ever got called was by a high school student who recognized me in the store but couldn’t remember my name and said, “Hey, it’s The Sex Lady!” very loudly. The look on his mother’s face was priceless. Once upon a time I taught a sexual abstinence program in the public high schools in my county. Yes, fun times.
    😛
    Love you RaRa!
    Juju the angel lady

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  9. Ra…I missed Label Day on the 21st. But my label would have been Hermit Crab: hard on the outside, soft and vulnerable on the inside. If you think about it…we are all magical, some just use more impressive fireworks!

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  10. This was epic, Ra! So much truth here, so many things I want to cling to. This one’s going in the Keeper pile. 🙂

    I’d never heard of Intuu before, but now I see that it’s very close to me, too. So thank you for that. ❤ *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My newest label seems to be “goth nun”. Which I’m cool with. It makes sense and it fits. I remember in school wanting to be a goth. Funny how 16 years later I’ve finally made it by joining a religious community – that way I don’t have to do the makeup which my poor skin couldn’t cope with!

    Pleased to meet you, Ra. Xxx

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