Part of the challenge of writing fiction outside of one’s comfort zone is that there are areas that I can’t easily verify. One of the two main characters of “The Story,” Trishna, uses a wheelchair. I don’t yet have anyone I can ask to make sure my brainstorming ideas aren’t problematic, but for something like naming a wheelchair, it seems like some people don’t and some people do, so something like that shouldn’t be problematic.
Spoilers?: Minor [name of wheelchair]
When we name things, we name them from our perspective.
I don’t fully credit myself with naming John and Trishna. Both names popped into my mind in my last months of high school while I was in the library not studying, but more admiring the graffiti and wasting time, but Trishna’s name originally did not have the “n.” The “n” popped up only a few years ago while my brainstorming meandries explored her family history. Her parents named her “thirst” in Hindi/”Sindi” perhaps because she was born with physical disabilities that would make life hard for her, yet she might have been active even in the womb. Or something like that… like I say, these are the parts that if I didn’t talk to more people to get a more balanced perspective, topics like this could seem contrived or problematic.
Let’s assume everything so far is reasonable [and subject to change].
I imagine that she received her service dog, Pollyanna, when she was a child. I’m not knowledgeable enough about the process of acquiring a service dog. I know a family or someone can have a dog and then train them into becoming a service dog. Without overthinking things, I’m imagining that Trishna’s parents applied for a service dog through the same government-based organization that provided some assistance for people living with disabilities in the world of “The Story” – mirroring and commenting on the American Healthcare System and American Government Systems. If so, Pollyanna might not have been given that name by the organization that trains service dogs.
I’ve imagined Pollyanna’s service name as “Lady.”
For example, if Trishna needs something from Pollyanna, she might say “Lady, get slippers” for Pollyanna to retrieve her slippers. Pollyanna might have even been trained in another language, like German/”Gerfewan,” which might add extra layers of complexity. Still, it seems like Pollyanna might have been a name given to “Lady” by either Trishna’s parents, or maybe even Trishna herself, whereas Lady seems generic enough to be a given name or title by a service dog training organization.
That was nearly a half-essay’s worth of ado for naming logic.
Trishna seems like she would be the sort of character to want to name her wheelchair. I don’t think she’d go so far as to consider it having a personality or anything like that. I remember I talked to someone once with a service dog that said that they didn’t name their service dogs because they were tools. That logic stayed with me because it made sense. The dog wasn’t mistreated by any means. The dog was a tool to help provide a service. I don’t have names for the two canes I’m using for mobility as I recover from my spine surgery and I still respect them.
What would Trishna name her wheelchair?
The current placeholder name that doesn’t feel out of place for her is “Rothaí,” pronounced like raw-he, which is Irish/”Direish” for “wheelie.” As I externalize that thought by writing it, this name almost seems more influenced by her older sister Sammohini. Maybe it’s the name of her first wheelchair? After all, wheelchairs generally have a limited “lifespan” of around five years, so Rothaí could have been her first wheelchair. Or maybe not at all, because Trishna is the sort of character that names all of her plants and considers them all unique living organisms; or even, her plant babies.
In that case, the names of her wheelchairs could be anything.
I have a Hot Wheels Wheelie Chair at my writing desk that occasionally reminds me of Trishna’s wheelchair. It’s in those idle moments we have, whether it’s waiting for a website to load or maybe a response from someone, where we can brainstorm ideas about names or even general appearance. Her first wheelchair could be more generic, but as she grows older, she would need a wheelchair that is more designed for her needs and wants for her third wheelchair, probably, by the beginning of the events in “The Story.”
This is the part where I’vedone some subjective research.
Objective research would be reviewing the websites of government assistance programs to see what options are available for potential wheelchair users. Subjective research would be reading or listening to the first-hand experiences of people that have received wheelchairs from government organizations. From my limited general, subjective research, it seems like wheelchairs aren’t fully covered, especially for any ‘unnecessary’ accessories. I’ve seen this from my own experience working with my insurance company through the Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] series that they spare no expense at making sure not to spare any expenses.
What this means is that Trishna’s third wheelchair might be a long time coming.
She might even have been using her second wheelchair for long enough to where she hasn’t yet been approved for a replacement by the time the events of “The Story” begins. John might even join in the naming process of Trishna’s third wheelchair. These are the difficult sorts of factors to consider, because there’s what makes sense to me as the writer/author to write, there’s what makes sense based on how I imagine the characters or what the characters tell me about their experiences, and there’s what actually happens in reality – that third option should always be respected. If Trishna’s fictional experiences don’t match the real-life experiences of consulting people that use wheelchairs, then I would need to meander through my brainstorming more rigorously.
Ultimately, I’d rather represent reality fairly than perpetuate any harmfully repressed stereotypes.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: I explored this theme slightly in Novel 01, but for people – and let’s expand this out to service dogs, wheelchairs, and plants – names have value and mean something to the people, service dogs, wheelchairs, or plants that are bestowed them. Writing this essay got me thinking about what Trishna would name her wheelchairs and plants. It’s tricky because that requires getting into a specific part of her perspective, but I would imagine “innocently plain” or “innocently proper” would probably be the perspective – so she might name Wheelchair Number 2 a common given name, and Wheelchair Number 3 might, if we’re going with the example above, be a name that she and John come up with together. [Trishna would probably apply the “she/her” pronouns to her wheelchairs, however.]|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2020 October 03 [10:25pm to 11:07pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 October 03 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|