That there was ever a time I called you by your full name.
I never call you Ravin. Not R.D., which is how you signed your letters. I don’t know why. I guess you’re just always around when I speak to you. Always already paying attention.
Do you think people have other names? Some people will say when they look at a newborn baby, “She is a Reva,” “She is a Vash.” And some of us are named by the only names our parents know. Names of their parents. Names they think of when they think of what children are named. Some of them take a long time coming up with a name and still don’t get to anything good. Liyo. What does it mean? There are other Ravins here; Ravin is a man you might find on a news show on the TV, but I have never heard of another Liyo. People say, “Oh,” when I tell it to them, and that’s how I learn they’ve never heard it either.
Sometimes I feel like I have another name. Like my mother gave me one and my father took it away. Or the name my mother gave was too foreign, and he changed it so it would be more comfortable in our dialect, using our vowels and spellings. Like the immigration office does for arriving refugees, Zhegha to Shinga. Cinde to Sandi.
Sometimes I feel like we don’t need names. I hear my mother in my head whenever she wants to talk to me. She does not need to call me to her. I don’t know her and we have never met, but she is right there, her voice, when I want it and sometimes when I don’t, and she calls me “Liyo,” but I call her nothing. She does not need me to name for her who she is to me.
I guess what I’m writing around is, I keep saying I’ll move out and you keep saying your rooms are wasted by me moving out, and I keep saying I’ll get a job and make money and you keep saying what good is money, given (you are finally convinced; it took a professor on the news to do it) the land is coming for us now, is starting to close the distance between where I came from and where I’ve come to.
At a certain point I think I have to admit that you have become comfortable to me; this place, with all its big plush rooms, is comfortable to me; I want to stay with you; I want to let you and this place take care of me, while we have the time. May I? Will you?
Is this the right decision? Mama cannot tell me. She is not allowed.
Obviously I have to actually have this conversation with you out loud. I hate it.