City of Edmonton Youth Council
CEYC Names Narrative: Anwi
Written by Anwi Patel | Edited by Aditi Sharma and Sithara Naidoo
Ever since the beginning of my time in this world, I’ve been a very sentimental person ; it’s almost impossible for me to make decisions without thinking about the feelings that are involved. I have a strong urge to make sure that everyone likes me, and if I sense something to be off, I freak out. I get attached to people and things almost instantly, and my name is just another reminder of this.
Of course, like any name, there is some history involved: on Saturday April 9th, 2005 at approximately 11:49 a.m, I was born at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Millwoods. This is relevant because in Hindu culture a Rashichakra is used to determine what a baby’s name will be. For example, in accordance with the date and time I was born, and the resulting star alignment and positioning, the priest that my parents went to determined that I fall into the Mesha (Aries) Rashi sign. Hence, my name would have to start with the letter A, E, or L. My mum was set upon having my name start with an A, and her first choice was Aastha. Aastha means ‘belief’ or ‘hope’ in Sanskrit. Her second choice was Aanchal, meaning ‘protective shelter’.
It was observed however, that I happened to be born on the first day of an auspicious nine-day festivity, Chaitra Navratri, which fell from April 9th, to the 18th in 2005. Navratri is a festival in which we celebrate Goddess Durga who is known for her protection and strength. So it made sense to my parents to name me after one of Goddess Durga’s names: Anvi. The difference is that my name was changed to have a ‘w’ instead of a ‘v’, the reason for which I asked about, but no one knew unfortunately.
My name was chosen and modified by my family, so it makes sense that they would all pronounce it the same way, which was ‘Un-wi’, as if you’re saying ‘undo’. This was in my mind the ‘right’ pronunciation of my name. When I started going to school though, all of my teachers and friends said my name differently. Whether it was the tone they used, the different syllables they stressed, or the accent they had, every person that said my name says it differently.
I thought they were all pronouncing my name wrong, but everytime a new teacher took attendance, or I made a new friend, the conversation would go a little bit like this:
“Anwi? Did I say that right?” (It was never the ‘right’ pronunciation.)
The younger Anwi (and a little bit of the current Anwi) would in her mind shake her head and say no, but out loud she would nod her head and say,
I questioned myself several times throughout the 11 years of having my name “mispronounced”, as to why I never corrected them. If I thought they were saying my name wrong, I should’ve corrected them, right?
I did correct two people, both of whom were my teachers who taught me in the last quarter of school this year. But, a part of me regrets that I did.
I didn’t realize it before, but as I’ve taken the time to reflect upon my name for the purposes of this article, I believe that every person that says my name puts a little bit of themselves into it and in a way, ties themselves to a part of my life. From the very first time they say my name when we’re introduced, a part of them stays with me forever. Whether it be them constantly asking me if they were pronouncing my name right, pressuring me to tell them how to pronounce my name, or completely abusing their privileges when I tell them they can call me whatever. Each pronunciation has a little piece of the person that says it. A memory. And it stays there for as long as they call me by my name.
I regret telling those two teachers how my name is ‘actually’ pronounced, because now every time they say my name, it feels like it’s missing their own personal touch. However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that even though it may not have been their original pronunciation, there’s still a memory within it. A funny memory, where I had to repeat my name multiple times for them to get it right, and I’d told them to replace the ‘A’ in my name with a ‘U’ to make it easier. A happy memory, where several attempts later, they both got it, and though it was the same pronunciation, they said it in their own unique way, making me so incredibly happy.
This article is a reminder to both myself and the audience: everyone you come across in your life stays with you in some way or form, if not physically. Though I realized it a little later, people stay with me through my name.
This also reminds me that not everything about yourself needs to be set in stone. No matter how much you think you’ve seen of the world, keep yourself and your identity open to interpretation. Allow yourself to embrace new possibilities instead of turning them down because they seem ‘wrong’. And if you do turn something down like I did while correcting my teachers, don’t regret it. Look for the memories and the benefits it’s brought to your life, and keep them with you forever.