To add or not to add H

Twenty-three years ago, when I relocated to Karnataka from Punjab, along with my address, the numerology of my name changed permanently, too. I had no control over how others wrote my name. "My name is Sujata and there is no 'H' in my name," would be my default opening line while introducing myself. "You mean your name ends with the same sound as Tata?" the person would ask leaving me exasperated.

In the south, 'H' is usually suffixed with 'T' in a name; something people up north are not accustomed to. So, it is Geetha, Vinitha, Sunitha, Latha, Namitha, Prashanth…

Surprise, anger and then acceptance. After all, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," I would force myself to remember Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet when 'H' tailed 'T' in bank passbooks, driving licence and even property papers. Some of the newspapers I contributed to also changed my byline. I shed real tears when an extra letter quietly made its way into the Adhaar card.

"Now, these people have changed my identity!" I took it out on my better half. "Celebrities add an extra 'A' to their name. Since you have added 'H' for that added effect, that makes you a celebrity too," he opined. "A is the first letter of the alphabet whereas H is eighth, so 'H' is more influential than 'A', isn't it?" I beamed from ear to ear. The explanation, indeed, had a logic.

Ironically, my passport still has my name without 'H' resulting in confused identity crises at airports many times.

A few months ago, I interviewed a tarot card reader on the power of one's name. The article was published in the women achievers section of a popular publication. The morning of its publication, upon seeing the tarot card reader's name flashing on my phone screen, I prepared myself to receive congratulatory words on writing a beautiful piece.

"You have spelt my name wrong, it is 'Revati Iyer' and not 'Revathi Iyer'," the lady bellowed over the phone. "But you are from Tamil Nadu, so it has to be 'Revathi'," I mewed an explanation for the blunder.

Revati took a long pause before opening her mouth to speak again. "I did my schooling from Meerut and no one writes 'th' with their names there. However, despite telling my teachers umpteen times that there is 'H' after 'T' in my name, the letter would always be missing in my report cards class after class. When the mistake was repeated in the Class 10 certificate, too, I permanently became Revati from Revathi."

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