What’s in a Name?
by Christa Pandey

Protest was in the air when I was born.
The country’s nationalist bend
had turned to hate and false religion.
By naming me with Christian symbolism
my parents thought to take a stand.
A boy would have been Christián
or Christoph, for me the closest
they could claim was Christa.

The middle name they chose was
even more pronounced and yet obscure.
Uta, medieval patroness of Naumburg,
established a cathedral in her town.
Why her? Why me? I don’t like Ute,
yet today I wonder if my own
late-life creation of foundations
might have been prescient in that name.

My maiden last name is as common
as the trade it used to indicate, though in our
ancestry’s two hundred years no Schmidt
is listed plying it, neither in iron nor in gold.

With marriage I was raised to Pandey (pandit),
an appellation used for learned people
in my husband’s land. By twist of fate
it’s on my German side that we find teachers,
pastors, chemists, while Indian forebears
farmed the land they owned, allowing them
to send some sons for higher education.
Our generation and the next
are true to our pandit appellation.

PHOTOGRAPH: Christa Pandey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While writing this poem, my middle name suddenly gained a meaning I had never seen in it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christa Pandey is a widely published poet living in Austin, Texas. Much of her writing is inspired by her multicultural environment. Besides her three chapbooks, Southern Seasons, Maya, and Hummingbird Wings (available at she has recent poems in Crossing Lines (an anthology by Main Street Rag Press), Poetry@Round Top anthology, and Taj Mahal Review.