Today, I took Levi to get his first round of immunisations at our doctors surgery. When it was our turn, the interactive message board beeped and read ‘Sainimili Rockett, Room 1, Doctor Sharma’.
Having grown up in the UK I have become accustomed to the look of confusion on the faces of teachers, doctors and others when it comes to pronouncing my name. “Seymila? Sanili? Samenilla? Sssss…” It’s Sainimili, but you can call me Sai. It’s an automatic response that I now no longer think twice about.
As we entered the doctors room, she welcomed us in and then asked – “Are you Sainimili? Is that the right way to say it?” I said yes. It is always a pleasant surprise when someone takes the time to actually read my name and pronounce it properly. “Okay and this is Levi?” But she said levee. As in Don McLean’s lyrics ‘bye bye miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry, and them good ole boys were drinking… Okay sorry, back to the point). Levi I said, pronouncing it correctly as she apologised.
After a quick chat, it was time to get Levi examined, so I popped him onto the bed and she started examining him whilst asking me where the name Levi came from and whether it was a name in the family.
I went into an almost automatic mode of explanation. We wanted a name that was Biblical, but also short, and something that no one would mispronounce (although we didn’t quite get that part right). Mana and I both have long names so we have similar experiences and frustrations with people saying our name wrong.
She then asked what his middle names were. Meanwhile, she was stretching out my poor sons legs and arms, turning him on his back, spreading and stretching everything and the little soul was barely awake from his nap trying to figure out what was going on.
“He’s named after both his paternal great grandfathers ” I said quickly, hoping that she would stop what she was doing and let me dress him again. Surprised to hear this, she then asked why we chose to name him after them – well that’s an easy answer – his identity. Now can I have my son back please! (Obviously I didn’t say that but she wouldn’t stop and my distress probably wasn’t obvious enough)
It wasn’t until we had left the doctors surgery, and I had settled baby at home that I started to think about the conversation I had with her. Some say that a person grows into their name, whilst others argue that their name will determine what type of person they will become. In either case, names hold great importance. Growing up I had always wished I had an easier name, a girly name – a non-indigenous name. I hated the fact that my name wasn’t Kirsty or Katherine like all the other girls in my class. Even when I went to school in Fiji, I still felt like my name was boring, too long, or not pretty enough.
But now, I am so proud of my name. It took awhile, but I grew into it, I learned to embrace it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My name not only speaks of my father’s aunt, a strong Rewan woman, but it also speaks of me. I have become my name and my name has also determined the person I am.
Before Levi was born, Mana and I both wondered, what if he doesn’t look like a Levi? The day he was born, we looked at him, and knew he was Levi. Levi Qoriniasi Charles.
A biblical name to remind him that he is God’s son, before he is ours and that we have been graced to love and look after him on this earth. A Fijian name so he remembers his heritage, and named after both of his great grandfathers, so that he will always know his lineage.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet – William Shakespeare