What’s in a (first) name?

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 with 5 comments
This time, this entry is not about my surname, which I already wrote about even before I had this account with Blogspot (related entry here). This is for my rather out-of-the-box first--Abdillaiva--and I bet I’m the only one who has this in the world.

The first half of my name is fairly common among Muslims, and most of the time it’s written with an “E.” I asked my mom where the second half came from or what it means, but she said that it was my late father who christened us with our unique names (with my siblings having Furnima, Tarakky, Hamja, Roslaini, Adjani… um, we’re 12 in the family!). Where he got them, I know I will never know now, and the last five letters will forever be a mystery to me.

Before I was born and my mom was pregnant with my sister, there was this guy doctor who was looking after her, and his name happened to be Abdel. Probably my Dad was fascinated with this young man that he said the next time they’d have a boy, they would name it after him. They did, after one more pregnancy where my other sister was borne into this world. If she would have been a boy, I think my name now would have been different. It wouldn’t be mispronounced and misspelled like… only forever, and--the most peculiar--I wouldn’t be mistaken for a girl.

Just this morning, I underwent the Annual Physical Examination of the company I work for. Because I was on a vacation leave when the APE was held in the office premises, I had to personally go to the clinic we’re affiliated with. I filled out some forms, wrote my name, my first and last, legibly on little boxes especially made out to input the examinees’ correct info. I was asked to sit and wait for my name to be called. And boy, how they tortured it. Leaving the building, I was dumbfounded that only one of their five personnel said it correctly. Abdillana, Abdillaiya, Abdullana… the other people in the clinic probably were dumbfounded, too, hearing me called differently each time. Even the doctor assigned to do physical examinations on women thought that I was a girl… and she also mispronounced my name. From their receptionist, the dentist, their two doctors, it was unbelievable.

When I was born, whoever made my birth certificate did a clerical error on--what else? The spelling of my name. She or he thought that I-V was a W, and because of this, I almost was not able to take the licensure examinations for physical therapists. My friends were telling me to go with what the birth certificate says, but that meant that I had to change the name on all of my school documents. But I still went with the necessary correction because I felt that Abdillawa was just alien to me, and to have it as my first name after all these years was unthinkable. It was a lot of work, going to and fro NSO offices just to have a letter changed to two. I even sent a mail to the chairperson of PRC to ask for an extension of the board exam application because of this major clerical error. To make the long story short, she granted my request, but just in the nick of time.

If I’ll have my own son, I’m thinking if I’ll ever give my name to him. He’ll most likely go through all the troubles that I’ve been through. But being an Abdillaiva (and a Kadiri too!), I know he’ll manage fine. Abdillaiva, Jr! He-he, that just sounds good. And I feel that when he already has my name and be a mini-copy of myself, people would be more accepting of those who have attention-grabbing surnames (like us) and of course mindful of reading our firsts.