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40. The Name(sake) Game

Posted in A Series of Misfortunate Events by justlikeasugar on May 26, 2017

While I always love self-appointing myself as Mrs Takuya Kimura/Julian Farhat/Ville Vallo (Disclaimer: Well, it is the truth… except they don’t know it… yet) – purely to annoy the hell out of everyone; what remains one of my treasured possessions is my own name.

Ironically; I grew up feeling the opposite.

I was not sure how the dislike came about.

Maybe finding out my name does not mean anything in Islamic context upset me a great deal then.

KotakPermataHati: But my name does not have any meaning too.

Nyah, you have a cool short name; which means a gemstone. To a shallow ten-year old self of me; when you have a name that does not carry good nor bad meaning, it counts for something.

It does not help being surrounded by friends and relatives who have either a) one-word names with good meaning or b) two-word names with even better meaning.

When I was in Primary 6; most of my classmates have names with that begins with a “Nur” light or a “Siti” lady.

Most of my cousins’ names begin with a “Nur”, even TJ. Hell; even the meaning behind TJ’s name (Light of My Eye) kicks way better ass than mine. 

It made me wondered if there was a particular fad about naming your daughter a “Nur” or a “Siti” going on in the 80s’ and my parents might have missed the memo.

Or maybe because my name is subsceptible to name-calling. Most common one was buah kana. Worst one was a particular word that rhyme with a certain Hokkien expletive; thanks but no thanks but to short-tongued friends by no coincidence, all belongs to the majority race.

Countless of times; Mama would recount to me of the origin of my name. That it is a modified name from the combination of Abah’s name and Mama’s pet name.

Can you imagine if my name is Satina.

I can’t either.

Hence; the slight tweak though in all honesty; even Mama thought the alphabet h was a waste of space.

Serena, is mostly how they pronounce my name anyways.

However; another belying story behind my name is that the name was supposed to be something else.

My Obe proposed Nuraini surprise surprise while Mama was particularly keen on Nur Ashikin.

These two names were immediately canned by Abah. He stressed that a good name must be given; contradicting himself later when he gave TJ her name. The real reason he never concede to Mama’s request was because… Nur Ashikin was the name of his ex.

Oh… Macam gitu kah?..

Possibly; it is due to the fact I was always reminded that I frequently fell sick due to my name. The Muslim community believes in giving good affable names to your newborns for obvious reasons; the Malay community believes that sometimes a name is “heavy” for that baby to carry; hence they will give other names to counteract the effect.

While I am called Ina by everyone, I am known as Ani to my paternal side.

Both names reek old school too.

How do I counteract the situation?

By asking and when I say “asking”, I meant forcing friends to address me as Siti Musliha when I was a tween. Or Waqin, where I was a teen.

Friends; they actually concede to my request. Good, well-intentioned friends entertained me to such extent before they bakul me.

SH: Siti Musliha? I think your name suits you better.

This comes from someone whose name starts with Siti.

QB: Honestly; I prefer Ina to Waqin. Anytime of the day.

HS: Your name suits your strong personality.

The last one is, of course, one of the many gems from the sister itself:

TJ: Seriously, Kak. I can’t imagine if your name is not Sarinah. Other name does not suits you.

(Then came the punchline which double served as a TKO)

Bitchy name for a bitchy sister.

Haramjad sungguh.

By saying that not only did she reinforced the love-hate sisterhold we shared back then; she also reinforced one of the bad habits from our paternal gene of which when one family member was down, you showed love by kicking that person harder to the pedestal until that person realise there was no way that person go lower except to climb back up.

I did not know whether I should accept it as an insult. Or a compliment. But the silent grudge I held against my parents for giving that name continued until I came across an article when I was twenty-one years old.

By then; I already knew what my name meant in other languages. I reconciled with the fact that my name is their first and one of the best presents my parents gave and I should wear it proudly like a medal.

Before Encik; I had plans of adopting a child since I was nineteen as I did not see marriage on the cards due to then-career aspirations.

If it is a baby boy, I will name him Luqman (Wise), calling him Loki for short. If it is a girl; the name of my favourite grandmother, Habiba (Beloved) was a shoo-in; calling her Bib for short.

You know what they say about how things will never work out in one’s favour.


When Encik happened; we came to a compromise when it came to naming the kids: he call the dibs on the name if it is a baby boy, and I, if it is a baby girl. It was an uneasy compromise on my part because if I gave birth to all sons, I would be biting my fingers in frustration. If I gave birth to all daughters, I would still bite my fingers in frustration because of the unreasonable guilt that Encik did not have a say in naming his kids.

At least if there is the other thing we agreed on is that we are both equally lazy enough to give only one-word names to the kids.

I was not even half into my first pregnancy that I realised this naming issue would be hard.

It is not only one of the parents’ prime responsibilities to their newborn child, it is something that is not to be treated with triviality.

The Holy Prophet has said:

“It is the responsibility of every father to choose a good name for his child.”1

“The children have three rights over their fathers. The first is that they are given good names. Secondly, they are provided good education; and lastly, they help them to select good spouses.”2

Encik is too well aware that I was only six months into my pregnancy that we finally gave a name to the Pahdawan.

Before; I had suggested Matin, Luqman, I remembered pushing for Syed. Just as quickly as Abah had canned the name Nur Ashikin; Encik had done the same, stating the names did not seem to gel.

On the other hand the name of a person has a lot of social significance too. It is his name, which gets recognition to a person that he belongs to a respectable family. If the parents have high regard for a well-known poet, they may name their child after him. If the parents are fond of high learning they may select the name of a reputed scholar.

The highly religious parents name their children after the prophets, the Imams and other religious personalities. If the parents desire their children to struggle in the cause of the faith, they name them after Muhammad, ‘Ali, Hasan, Husayn, Abul Fadhl, Abbas, Hamza, Jaffar, Abu Dharr, Ammar, Saeed etc.

The name came after the realisation that Pahdawan would stop kicking in my stomach whenever we switched on to listen to our favourite Qari’s recital. Of course; it is also done with the hopes of emulating the Qari’s good attributes and also; the other meanings of the name as well.

I thought Encik was being too fickle-minded for taking too long. It was not until I found out I was carrying a girl during my second pregnancy that I realised… It is that hard.

Initially; I wanted to stick to the name Habiba and be done with all the hassle.

However; as the pregnancy progresses, I seemed to detach farther from the name as various choices of names started shoving themselves in my face.

If the parents are enamored of any sport they like to name their children after renowned players of that sport. Similarly if the parents appreciate the art of any musician, they may prefer to name their child after that person.

It’s like chilli crab, medium-rare Angus steak, lamb chops, assam pedas sting-ray, spring chicken, Charcos ribs and your other favourite foods all spread out on the table but you have to choose one.

Humaira. Aaisya. Ayse. Inaya. Shereen.

I don’t really think much about flowers in general.

While I taken a shine to daisies or sunflowers (someone in Facebook pointed out those flowers are commonly used as wreaths in funerals), I never thought much about orchids either.

While they require little care and can grow anywhere; but caring for them is leceh, worse than when you are caring for other flowers. Plus the orchid is an unforgiving fragrant-less flower.

Surprisingly; the only time I took fancy to them and paid serious attention was when I was carrying Srikandi in my stomach.

The flowers seemed to be everywhere and in abundance, shoving their existence  to my face everywhere.

As wallpapers with variety of colours on few engineers’ desktops when I passed by their department.

When I passed by neighbourhood.

Or reading some magazines.

When I was watching Sepet re-runs. Or how the late Orkid Abdullah’s Penawar Rindu seemed to air more frequently of late.

Another name came to mind too when the name of the person whose smooth rendition of the Asmaul Husna always air on the mornings of FM 94.2 Warna radio station.

Ilma Plojovic.

Ilma vs Orked.

Knowledge vs Resilient Flower.

It was a tough fight but looking at the status quo; it was not easy coming to a decision.

Ilma was my initial choice.

Which parent does not want the best for their kids?

I want my kids to be smart; be it streets or books. I want my kids to grow up achieving their aspirations; both duniawi and ikhrawi. Parents spend their time – in my case; I spent the first three months eliminating many names and then next seven months tryin to decide I or O – poring over the names to give to their kids in the hopes of their kids emulating the virtues and goodness deriving from the names.

Realistically; growing up with my given name when my paternal family called me other name also made me realised I could not be ambitious either.

Ilma Abdul Malik.

It was unique as I had hoped for and a simple four-letter word name.

The knowledge of the servant of the King.

The meaning is great too.

But knowledge is a heavy word and I am very scared just like it happen with me; history will repeat itself.

When I decided to go with the other name; I chose it with the hope just as Srikandi emulating the resilience of the flower and the virtues of the Orkeds – fact & fiction (randomly… HIGHLIGHT’s title album) I have known.

All in all; from both kids, though at times, there are many “thunders and storms”, I get good temperament so far.

Eh… Only one word ah?


One word names as we; the parents of the kids and not, promised.

No Muhammad?


No Siti.


Why Orked? Should be Anggerik.

You’d be surprised at some things people said, as though they are the ones who gave birth to your kids.

But I let it slide.

Names are the least concern to me by now. Responsibility as a parent does not stop after you give them their names. The next (and definitely the hardest one) is raising them up to be responsible, good individuals.

In shaa Allah.


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