The memoir excerpt “By Any Other Name” by Santha Rama Rau has a chronological structure. The narrative follows sisters Santha and Premila as they attend their first days at a new Anglo-Indian school. The text follows events that spread over a week, up until the day of Premila’s first test at the new school.
The beginning of the text introduces readers to the main characters – Santha and Premila – and the setting – the Anglo-Indian day school in Zorinabad: “At the Anglo-Indian day school in Zorinabad to which my sister and I were sent when she was eight and I was five and a half, they changed our names”. The intrigue is set when the headmistress decides to anglicize the sisters’ names so that she would find it easier to address them:
‘Oh, my dears, those are much too hard for me. Suppose we give you pretty English names. Wouldn’t that be more jolly? Let’s see, now—Pamela for you, I think.’ She shrugged in a baffled way at my sister. ‘That’s as close as I can get. And for you,’ she said to me, how about Cynthia? Isn’t that nice?’
The narrator offers more information about the reasons why the sisters were sent to an Anglo-Indian school. This way, readers find out more about the girls’ par...