The dreaded word. The endless cycle where I, Sunanda Tamrakar, will be stuck in a pattern of stuttering syllables, awful enunciations, and scrunched faces that will inevitably end with “Sorry, I’m not going to remember that. Do you have a nickname?”
I remember a horrifying Saturday morning Mock Trial practice in high school. I had a killer cross examination to practice and adrenaline was rushing through me like picturesque white girls to a sorority. I walked up to the stand and threw a knowing smile to my team and they beamed back at me. I began with introducing myself to the witness and then— “Sorry, I couldn’t understand you. What was that?”
I froze and all the adrenaline-saturated blood was zapped from me immediately. I stared like a deer in headlights, not knowing what to do next. How could he not understand? All I did was say my name. What was I supposed to do? That was when the torture began. For the next hours of practice, my coach made me practice saying my name over and over. I was to say it slowly, enunciate each syllable— speaking as if I was talking through syrup across the room.
I stood there, like a rock, enunciating every single syllable, drawing it out for everyone in the room to hear. Soon, the other coaches and my team members left as my coach grilled me at introducing myself over and over again. As I peered out into the pale stream of people leaving the door, I could see that no one understood why this experience was so humiliating and hard for me. There was no empathy, just confusion and dismissal; they couldn’t understand why this was so hard and, at the time, neither could I.
As I look back on that dreadful day, I don’t remember it with hate for my coach. In fact, I’m a bit grateful. Even though the humiliation I went through that day was brutal, I learned from it. I came face to face with the fact that I, Sunanda Tamrakar, could not say my name with pride. If I could not say my name with dignity, how can anyone else? I want to be able to look people in the eye and feel the amount of respect I offer to the other person. That dignity may not come today nor tomorrow, but one day I will be able to say with 100% pride and confidence, “Hi, My name is Sunanda Tamrakar.”