On my first day of work, my colleagues pushed a suggestion right into my face, which, to tell the truth, I gradually found to be pretty offensive. I used the term “pushed” instead of “made” because it seemed like they almost demanded that I followed their instruction and did what I was told.
Naturally I was displeased, even though I did not, or at least I hoped I had tried successfully not to reveal my emotions.
Now, let me unfold the entire story first which actually is a really short tale: They have difficulty pronouncing my name and want me to get an English name. Wait, in fact, they have even thought of one for me to use. To add to the insult, it is not exactly a pretty name because it is quite common, but I feel immense guilt to say that because a very nice ex-colleague who treated me well has the same name and I like her a lot.
I know that my name is tough to pronounce. I have been having this name for 25 years. Who will know it better than me myself, for goodness sake? It’s a Chinese name, in Hanyu Pinyin, and my mum unknowingly picked two of the possibly most difficult Chinese characters to pronouce. Plenty of people cannot pronounce my name accurately. My non-Chinese ex-colleagues never managed to get it right in the two years I was with my ex-employer. My JC PE teacher who was Indian gave up and called my name by the letters instead. It wasn’t hard considering that my entire name only has a grand total of seven alphabet letters. Suppose that my name is Tan Ah Kow, he would have called me T-A-N-A-H-K-O-W. Except that he could probably have been able to pronouce Tan Ah Kow. My yoga instructor who is also Indian calls me by my full name, and mispronouces it somemore. Occasionally, even some of the Chinese find difficulty calling my name.
So if so many people have a problem pronouncing my name, why am I so reluctant to get an English name?
The truth is that I am a very stubborn person. Obstination is my middle name. Although I would always prefer to say that I am one who sticks to my principles.
I seriously think that there’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with my name. In fact, I do feel that it’s a pretty name. I have had people telling me how much they like my name or how nice they think it is. I DO NOT CARE IF YOU THINK OTHERWISE BECAUSE IT IS MY NAME. MINE, AND NOT YOURS. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE ANY BUSINESS MESSING WITH MY NAME. I do not even care about people mispronouncing my name! It’s really alright because I understand that it’s quite tough to get it right. I have actually learnt to respond to all variants which sound like my name all these years. I do not get offended by this, so IF I DO NOT CARE IF YOU GET MY NAME WRONG, YOU CAN CONTINUE GETTING MY NAME WRONG FOR ALL YOU LIKE. I am more offended by people forcing me to get an English name.
My mum is the one who gave me this name. It hasn’t been a random pick out of a book or a result of a consultation with the geomancer. She had given much thought to it and it is a name with a meaning to it. To be honest, she is not fond of English names and of course another reason that she did not give me or my sisters any is because she isn’t English educated to begin with. She couldn’t have thought of names other than, I don’t know, Mary or Jane? When I eventually get my new namecard, I am going to give one each to my parents. Even if I don’t, they are going to pester me for one. What are they going to think when they see an English name, completely foreign to them, beside my name? Other than it is totally unnecessary. Perhaps they may get feel hurt.
However, being the self-centered individual that I am, which is another topic for another time, of course my parents’ opinions do not always matter. Or anyone else’s as a matter of fact. Which brings to the real reason why I am so offended. I have come to realise that what I really do not like is people trying to control my life, telling me what to do with my life. Which part of “my” do they not understand? I feel like telling them all to FUCK OFF. IT IS MY BLOODY LIFE. I CAN DRINK LIKE A FISH, I CAN SMOKE IF I WANT TO, I CAN SLEEP LATE, I CAN EAT LOADS OF JUNK FOOD, I CAN WASTE MY HEALTH AND DESTROY MY LIFE. IF I WANT TO. BECAUSE IT IS MY LIFE. Of course I won’t do all of these unless I’m trying to kill myself but at the moment I’ve no intention to end my life as yet. The point is, unless you are going to pick up the mess in my life, clear the shit you help created because you make me do what you want, instead of what I really want, take your hands off the steering wheel of my life. I can crash if I want to or if I am careless enough. It’s always my own decision to make. I will not crash because of you.
You may think that I am making a mountain out of a molehill but I do not want to get an English name just because some people want me to. If I ever am going to get one, it will be because I WANT to. Which I doubt will ever happen because I truly do not see the need. No superior will pass me for a promotion just because they can’t pronouce my name. No one will neglect my work just because of my name.
As Juliet once famously said in the Shakespearean tragedy, “What’s in a name?”, oh Juliet, I fail to see the significance too.