Thursday, June 19, 2008

What’s in a Name?

Allahyarham Sudirman and Kay on their Wedding Day

“A rose by any other name smells just as sweet,” so a sage quipped a long time ago. So what’s in a name?

But Hank is ok, I thought. Isn’t it ok? Friends back at my College (at the RMC) called me Hank, they still do even today, after so many years! “What’s wrong with Hank?” I asked my wife, Shadah more of trying to reassure myself rather than expecting an answer.

It’s fashionable to have a special name in blogosphere my wife reasoned. It should be an acceptable nickname she cautioned.

“Shore!”, I retorted sounding very American. “Well, there’s Hank Williams, there’s Hank Marvin I said, bringing back memories of rock & roll greats of yesteryears. What’s wrong with Hank?”

“Nothing , but can’t you be more original?”

“ ‘k”, I said, barely audible, agreeing with her. (my youngest son Azhar will text me ‘k’ to signify ok when he agrees. That’s the language of young people these days, somewhat shortened and may even be confusing at times)

Yes, that’s it! It struck me suddenly, Kay, why not? That’s a nice sounding name,.. Kay….

“…but Kay is feminine, remember late Sudirman’s ex-wife?”... my wife reminded me.

“Yes, I know that… so also Kay Kendall, the ex-wife of the late Rex Harrison” ( both Hollywood screenstars of old ) I unwittingly added.

“That’s not what prompted me”, I confessed (…I felt cornered).

“So what prompted you?”, she asked.

“I was thinking of ‘kay’ in ‘kaya’ meaning ‘rich’ that’s what all birdhouse owners aspire to be”, I replied sheepishly.

“Ok, fair enough, fair enough and I will willingly and certainly pray for your success. I will certainly ‘doa’ for you to be rich”. she said. She agrees and I felt relieved.

“But a nickname must be unique”, my wife quickly added again…

“I will add ‘kuala’ to it, that’s where I was born, Kuala Pilah, that should make it unique”, I said.

“I was born in Titi Gajah” she countered in an instance. Yes, Titi Gajah!

It left me wondering her motive for saying so. There was a sudden silence..... each waiting for the other for the next move.

I remember very distinctly earlier on in our marriage of being constantly reminded of Titi Gajah. The marriage was blissful, loving and supportive and still is, for which I am ever so grateful to Allah, God the Almighty, and to my loving wife most definitely. Ever so sweetly…honey!.

But I was constantly reminded of her pride in sharing her birth place, Titi Gajah in Kedah, with someone well known - Tun Dr Mahathir. Before she could remind me again, I said,

“…but Che Det chose the nom de plume of his Singapore student days for his blog…”. there’s no ‘Titi’ or anything like that in his name. I know he was born there. I should think he is proud of Titi Gajah, also” I was trying hard to appease her wounded pride, for not adopting Titi or Gajah as part of my nickname.

She somewhat remained silent. Phew! It was close. She didn’t flog the issue, I was relieved again.
I could have ended with ‘kaygajah’ as a nickname (or even 'kaytiti' which somewhat sounds odd) She didn’t insist, not this time.'Kaygajah' sounds monstrous and unwieldy. Maybe that’s why.

The nickname ‘kaykuala’ on the other hand sounds forgiving, free flowing (kuala means estuary of a river) elegant and with a mysterious serenity around it. So I think!

Yes, kaykuala it is… feminine? Well, ok, afterall feminity sells as we often see in advertisements. It bodes well for the business.

In this instance, it depicts the constant flow of an estuary, it has also part of ‘kaya’ (I just can’t help but repeat it) richness and riches as a consequence which is good and finally it has my roots in it, 'kuala' all bonded into one…yes, yes.., a Tiger Woods punch in the air…., yes , kaykuala it is!


zainal mokhtar said...

OK, Hank, I've found it. Good writing, keep it up. Expand the subject.
I see Halim (rock foundation) is on to you,too. I've been emailing him many,many times but he hasn't reciprocated. Maybe I should start posting about both of you soon. Tell him.
On the political commentary, I think we should participate and add to the discussion and hope we contribute at least to the substance of the polemic.

abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Zam,
I shall respond to you in Sungei Ujung. Wassalam.

abdulhalimshah said...

Suddenly I recalled my company officer as well as English Literature master, Mr.P.D.Bond reading with gusto one of the poems in the textbook "Rhyme & Reason" entitled " The Unknown Soldier ".
Perhaps it's futile after trying to find his name because during the First World War, dogtags like the ones we saw when dead GI's names are etched was not in vogue.

I rather have my name used in any writings because I am proud of it. When in the late nineties chatrooms were the craze, I used the handle "Alam Mega" and the chatters mistook it for a housing estate in Shah Alam. So what's in a name sounds like you spurn the very name you were born with. Pardon me, Hank, no offence meant, but I rather you call me by the name in my birth certificate which fortunately was issued during the BMA years.