Was feeling nostalgic and looked at some of my earlier blog pieces. Giggled and cringed through them, two of them being rants about my name.
Here they are for laughs:
What’s in a Name?… Everything! Part I (November 2007)
“That which we call a rose
by any other word would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.”
– Romeo and Juliet, William ShakespeareAh but a name is not just a name dear Juliet.
It defines who one is.
It gives one history, a sense of roots.
Consider this example:
Tan Wah Ling (Chen Hualing):
“Tan” is the surname shared by millions of Chinese all over the world, mostly Hokkiens or Hainanese. This “Tan” happens to be Hainanese with relatives still residing on Hainan Island.
“Wah” is the middle character allocated to this generation of this particular “Tan” clan to ensure prosperity and good fortune.
“Ling” calls to mind brightness and femininity.
Age 13 (or 12).
Doesn’t mean anything.
Chosen purely for the that fact that it opposed “Tan Wah Ling“, an extremely CHEENA and difficult to remember name.
Sub-conscious disassociation with Mandarin-speaking mother who just passed on?
Wanting to be cool, to fit in.
Mindless youthful rebellion against birth identity?
Tan Wah Ling@Nasyitah Thara Tan Abdullah:
“Nasyitah” means “energetic; full of life”
“Thara” means “wealth”
“Abdullah” refers to a convert.
Wife of Kamal.
So dear Juliet, how can a name be just a name?
What’s in a Name?… Everything! Part II
As much as I appreciate the multiple meanings of my name and various parts of my identity it points to, it confuses me.
Do I introduce myself as “Wahling“, “Mdm Tan“, “Nasyitah” or “Mrs Kamal“?
The first makes me feel Chinese.
The second, married.
The third, a Muslim.
The fourth, a wife.
So who am I really? All of the above surely! But how can I convey all of these identities when introducing myself?
“Hi. I’m Tan Wah Ling@Nasyitah Thara Tan Abdullah”
Not only it is a mouthful (I might just turn purple doing that once too often and frighten people off!) it is also more confusing than clarifying. So I continued to ponder about the name I introduce myself with and what it implies about the way I see myself. I continued to debate with myself over the implications of my self-introductions. Until now.
Writing this, I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I am all these names and it is alright to feel more Chinese at one point and more Muslim at another. I am learning to accept that one name is used more instinctively than another at times and that I have to stop feeling guilty about that.
So there you have it. Call me “Wah Ling“, “Mdm Tan“, “Mdm Nasyitah“, “Nasyitah“, “Cik(aunty) Nasyitah“, “Aunty Thara“, “Mrs Kamal“, “Tammy“(Ah! Dear husband and old friends of mine, I understand old habits die hard).
It really does not matter any more.
Perhaps there is wisdom in the youthful utterance of love-lorn Juliet after all!
I am still who I am regardless of what you call me.
Okay, with the exception of “Kamal“. Stop calling me “Kamal” because it is not my name!
also wife, mother, daughter, grand daughter, niece, aunt and friend in equal measures.
I’m out of practice…