Imagine, for a moment.
You are born. You don’t remember the instant your consciousness began, but that you exist now is testament enough. How could it be anything else?
Your father is a distant man, and most of the time you feel that your birth was only a step in a long-term plan that was laid out long before you existed and will persist long after he ceases to exist. You exist mostly because you have to, because the position your father holds dictates that, upon his death, a child of his will inherit it. Your mother is as kind a woman as could bear to marry such a man and give birth to a child that, in all honesty, is about as important to him as the signet ring that he wears.
You are alone. Your father’s house is grand and beautiful and empty. He finds interaction wtih you distracting and unproductive. Your mother makes all the effort she can to fill the void, but she’s only one person. The school you’re sent to during the long, hot days is full of children like you: the perfunctory sons and daughters of rich men who do important jobs in the city, jobs whose names they dare not speak aloud and whose descriptions they never mention. Friendship does not come easily to you or the other children - there are appearances to be kept, rivalries between families you do not understand. There are religious ceremonies you partake in, periods of silence and stillness, study of texts older than the oldest name in your family history.
Many years pass. You are now something between a man and a boy. You look upon the world with eyes both familiar and different, and you see that there is another boy - older than you, by a year or so, the son of another important man with a nameless job. You feel… love, or at least what the stories and the vids and the games tell you that love is supposed to feel like. But he’s male, as are you, and despite the famed libertinism of the greater nation which your tiny city is a part of, there are still taboos about this kind of thing in the strict, conservative households you both live in.
Perhaps that’s why you do it. Perhaps that’s why it feels so good, so right. Perhaps that’s why you keep doing it, and show increasing carelessness about who sees, or whether you get caught. Which, of course, you do.
Your father is furious, of course. He spits and shrieks and strikes you, but it doesn’t hurt. In fact a strange part of you is elated because this is the most attention your father has ever paid you. He speaks of disgrace to the family, but you’ve never really known what true family feels like. He speaks of your place in the world, which he’s never bothered to explain to you. Finally, he speaks of your destination - a school very far away. Not even on this planet. Not even in this star system. You are to leave tomorrow.
You sneak out to meet your lover one last time. He asks what will become of the two of you. You point out the star, far away in the night sky, that your school orbits around. You tell him whenever he is lonely, whenever he thinks of you, he should look into the night sky and think of that star. And one day, one happy day, from that star he will see you return.
That is the last time you ever see him.
If your father sought to punish you by banishing you to this distant school, he was far off the mark. Your living quarters, although far less palatial and shared with half a dozen others, are truly yours for the first time in your life. There are no rules about whom you may associate with. Those who you share your dorm with do not impose upon you to be anyone other than yourself. They ask who you want to be, rather than tell you what they wish you to be. They are fascinated and horrified by the stories of your childhood. They are impressed by your exotic cooking. They marvel at your intriguing fashions and religious customs.
They cannot pronounce your name. “Anand Durjaya.” The syllables of your native tongue do not come naturally to them - they roll and clunk, inelegent and alien to people raised with a much more fluid language. And so they gift you a nickname, the closest fit they perceive in their own language.
It feels odd, at first, but you come to treasure it more than the name you were born with.