“A Beak, Be Jolly” | Columbia University Undergraduate Application Essay

Abhik Basu Jolly…Abhik B. Jolly…A—

When I repeat a word over and over again, it detaches from its meaning—especially if the word is unusual. Like “kangaroo.” Or like “fork.” When I say fork over and over again, I start wondering, why is this called a “phorque?”

Abhik B. Jolly…A beak B. Jolly…Abhik B. jolly…A beak be jolly…

My name—unique as far as google knows (check for yourself)—is a signifier, a referential sound, which refers to me. My first name, Abhik, is Sanskrit for fearless. The origins of my surname, Jolly, are curious even to other Indians. As a middle name, my mother lent me her maiden name, Basu, a high-caste clan name, known more commonly in its anglicized form, Bose (as in Bose Sound Systems or the scientist Satyendra Nath Bose).

Sadly, I was hard pressed to appreciate the singular nature of my name while growing up on Long Island where Luke was considered to fringe the norm. Kids can be mean, but it was more personal insecurity than external abuse that troubled me. In ninth grade, I dreaded the first day of school. Sure enough, each teacher managed to mispronounce my name in an entirely unique way. I winced and corrected them while the class giggled behind me. (The only real tripping point is the silent h. With this…

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