Shakespeare raised The compelling question
What is in a name?
So I thought too, until now.
A query popped up in my head,
Who’s Malathi?
All the intriguing relationships
Among Indians!
I am Chinnamma, the little lady, at home
Peddamma at work, the supevisor,
Attamma for brother’s kids
Pinnamma for sister’s kids
And, ‘hey, you’, for whom,
Each syllable is quite a mouthful.
Mom or mommy,
And MOTHER when she’s annoyed,
To my little girl!
And then, Of course, the labels
“You are a feminist”
“No, I am not”
“Yes, you are”
“Why do you say so?”
“No, one ripple
Will not make waves”
“Ohh, come on…”
What a joke!
The good Lord knoweth I didn’t measure up
To somebody’s idea of feminism,
Wasn’t one of those
Dear darlings of Mother Telugu
‘తెలుగుతల్లి ముద్దుబిడ్డలు’
Or, I wouldn’t be in this mess,
In the first place!
A move I make
A philosophy I believe in
A principle I choose to live by
Sums me up and sets me apart.
In my country,
I used to say
“They call me Malathi”
I am not Malathi
Just, they call me Malathi
Like the profile on America’s Most Wanted
A male Caucasian, 5 foot 6, brown eyes,
black hair, a tattoo or two,
A tag attached to me
A bunch of syllables to mark a man, woman, or a thing.
Type in the keyword Malathi
You will see four hundred hits on the screen,
Not counting the millions
who dodge the mouse
and beat the odds on the high-tech
Oh, yes, the Finnish scholar.
His bibliography under Malathi Rao
A long, impressive list,
A few of my writings
And a lot more, not mine.
Wow, now I know
There is another Malathi Rao
Probably a decade or two younger,
Made the name famous!
“Are you the famous writer?”
“No Sir, I am not,
The name is famous!”
There IS something to a name,
I am somebody
In relation to others
A speck of dust floating around
In the outer Space
Today I am Malathi
Tomorrow Someone else could be so.
-Malathi Nidadavolu