What is your name?

I know of you now. I know you are a girl. I know you are a student. I know you are young and wanted to live. But, my dear, what is your name?

I’ve heard you called: the girl, the woman, nirbhaya, amanat, damini. Names that try to capture you; that try to define you through your ordeal. But, my dear, what is your name?

I know you wanted to study medicine. I imagine you kept odd hours, studied subjects with big names; laughed at the Latin twisting on your tongue; cursed the tomes that you filed in stacks of memorized data, yet turned to them every night in reverence and awe; slowly and surely fell in love with the body and its mysteries. But, my dear, what is your name?

I know you went to watch a movie. That you chose to watch Pi over others. I imagine you read the book. I imagine you argued over which one to watch. I imagine you worrying about returning home, the late hour, the work piled up for the coming week. My dear, what is your name?

I know you had a friend. That your friend was a boy. That you trusted him enough to share an evening with him. That he didn’t betray your trust. Did you hold hands? Did you know the love of friendship? My dear, what is your name?

I know you climbed into a bus. Did you climb those steps in relief of finding a ride; did you climb in choice-less anxiety? In a life led against a backdrop of fear; where the simplest exercise of choice could spiral into a descent to terror; was it one of the myriad times you took a chance, the kind that you and all of us born with the same strikes take, in the hope that fate is our ally. Oh, my sister, what is your name?

I know you were shrouded and consigned to dust in fog and silence. That you were denied the dignity of presence. That you were denied the sorrow and love of the millions that would’ve walked with you on your journey. My dear, my dear, what is your name?

“ Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air. .. Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest.. And read their history in a nation’e eyes.” – Thomas Gray

1 thought on “What is your name?”

  1. Beautiful, beautiful. What can I say? This is the most touching outpouring of feeling I have ever read on the horrific event in Delhi that shocked the world. Hope everyone gets to read this.

    Dear Dr menkris, your humanity and kindness is cathartic. Thank you. May your pen never run dry and may you continue to inspire

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