I love my name. The first two words are long and a hard combination of syllables to remember, and have very beautiful meanings (they’re Arabic words). The nickname is short and easy, and still very beautiful. I love my name, because it is as much my identity as my body, or my mind, or my writing, or my knitting and crocheting, or my reading. It’s all a package.
I love being addressed by my nickname. It makes me feel safe, like I’m home and don’t need to worry about anyone judging. I don’t have to worry about socializing and wondering if I should step it up or down.
Of course with my friends, it’s different. They know my nickname, but they’ve found a way to make me drop my guard even with my first name. I love that they were able to do it, and I love that I let them.
But this isn’t about them. It’s about my name.
A couple of days ago, in Biology class, I met a boy.
Well, technically I’ve met him as many times as I’ve gone to Biology class, and we’ve exchanged a few words. Him asking whether some solution should look a certain color, me confirming or explaining in brevity. But two days ago was when he first asked my name, for the first time in two months (8 classes, just to be fair, it’s not even that much contact).
“Mouduna,” I said. He stopped and stuttered for a moment.
He obviously didn’t catch it. The fans whirred overhead, the rest of the people doing their experiments muttered. Occasionally, we could her the sound of a car honking past the building. I don’t blame him. I can count on one hand the number of people who got my name on the first try.
“Yeah,” I said. “Best of luck remembering that.”
He still looked confused, so I scribbled it down on the margin of the nearest piece of paper I could find (which was my lab workbook). I put a curly bracket around the letters O and U, and said, “as in,” while scribbling “shout”. I meant it as a phonetic guide, because I’ve had more than my fair share of people mispronouncing it. Since I was a kid. It was mostly “mowduna”. Once, it was “mowdana”.
The guy nodded like he understood, and proceeded to scribble his name below mine. “Wasif”. Then, he put an arrow point form it to a space below, where he scribbled “the interpreter”.
I stared at it for a moment, wondering just which part of “Wasif” could be pronounced as “the interpreter”. Then it hit me.
He was telling me the meaning of his name. And he’d thought my name meant “shout”.
We talked a bit more, and he said he was going to need help with Biology experiments. I nodded, and wondered if I’d ever get the chance to explain to him what “shout” meant and what my first name really means. It means “encrusted with gold”.
I probably won’t, because I know there’s fat chance I’ll ever make small talk with him, or that we’ll become good friends in any way. We only ever see each other at the Biology class, for one and a half hour maximum once a week.
*insert humongous internal sigh*
On a side note, the name most of my blogger friends know me by (duh, it’s in my username, and it’s practically my blog’s url), is my nickname. Anan means “cloud”. My entire name, Mouduna Tanjeem Khan Anan, means “a cloud encrusted and decorated with gold”. Sweet, huh?
On a different side note, my life is going something along the lines of this: