I turn when someone calls my name and I do not stop and think about it. My mother must have spent a year, thinking about it.
My mother had a different name before she got married to my father, before she became a Muslim. She had the name of the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Now, her Arabic name means “Beautiful”. One night, while watching a particularly old movie with her on the laptop, lying beside her, I asked her, “ How do you even turn, when someone calls you by your new name?”. She was used to this name for twenty one years now.
“I am used to it now”, she said
“But, what’s your name?”, I asked her
“Internally, I start when I hear my old name. It’s a little shock, a little jolt, I am alert, and I turn. But, no one calls me by that now. So, I know it’s not for Me.”, she said
I was about to say something when I realized she wasn’t ever asked this very vital question. I knew she would like to continue. She didn’t and that saddened me more than anything else. My convert of a mother, doesn’t talk much about herself.
My first identity was my name. To that, lot of other identities added and their hold of me was fickle and slight. They slid off, as I grew older. The one identity which stayed, like one’s scent, was my name.