You’d think I’d be destined for fame with a name like I have. From the beginning, my parents told me, “we named you Natasha Megan because of two actresses we loved watching before you were born.” That of course, was something I didn’t fully understand until later, after I learned what acting even was. But really, no one calls me Natasha, or Megan. Unless of course (stereotypical) my parents are really mad at me. Even then they say Natasha with a slight Indian accent, something which no one else I know can pull off.

From preschool, people have been shortening my name. I like to imagine that the three syllables it takes to pronounce Natasha are jangling around in their mouths, and they can only manage to spit out two. Natash, Natty, Natish, etcetera. I’ve only ever known one boy who had to use more than three syllables to call for me, “Nabatasha,” he’d say to me. He really liked the letter ‘b’ and when I laughed quietly at him for butchering my name he would just wrinkle his face in confusion. After all, he was only one year old. As the years go by, he still likes that letter ‘b’ and to his entire family, I’m affectionately known as “Batty,” because those darn extra syllables still can’t make their way out.

To my mom, my name is ever changing. It started with “ladybug” and “sweet pea,” but the closer I get to leaving for college, the more the name sounds like “my baby” with a soft smile on her lips. It’s as if she knows I won’t be around much longer, and she wants to pretend that I’m still that baby in her arms. I’m willing to oblige, but I can only wonder what else it will change to, the older we both get.

As for my dad, I’ve only ever been one thing to him. You can’t even spell it in English, that’s how special it is. If you tried, it’d come out looking like the word “poopy” and that’s definitely not what it means in Marathi. Everyday he gets home from work, and calls it out, letting me know he’s home. When I’ve done something worth commendation, he says that name, and when I’m crying over something undoubtedly frivolous, it’s the same endearment.

Every name means something different to me; each has a story that if asked, I’d be more than willing to share. But the best part of my names is that none carry the weight of an expectation, rather the freedom of evolution.