I used to wonder, I still wonder, why I was named Mahaah. Now that I have accepted it as being unique, I still have questions. Accepting it was a funny story too. This one day I accidentally searched my own name on google while trying to access my word press when I, all of a sudden, started scrolling down the search results and screamed “Hell Yeah!” since I’d found out that I was the only one with my name on the entire planet. Like who doesn’t want to be the one and only? Haha. No one. Well I was, and am, the only one. And I love being that way.
Anyway.. I was wondering about something? My namesake. Yes. It all started with the realization of never being spelled right. The first admission list displayed on the school notice board in 1998, the twelve years of school, the two years of college.. I was never spelled right. The officials always saved their precious time by not writing an extra “ah” in my name, which is actually a part of my name and is not something that I use for lame shashkays. My teachers, my classmates, my friends, my cousins, everyone except my family spelled me wrong. The struggle was real at that time. I am very conscious about my spelling, I don’t really know why. May be because it differentiates me from other Mahas in the world. People used to say, still say, that I show off my spelling? Like I could be the “Normal-Simple-Maha” if I wanted. That I make my spelling longer because I want to be something different? That I want to stand out of the crowd? Like what the actual hell are you talking about guys. I was named Mahaah. It means different from the other Maha. What in the world is your problem with my name? Sadly, I never really said it to their faces because I am a “nice” person. During that phase of my life, I had literally started hating my name. I had started disliking that one desi aunty who named me for picking such a weird name. For making me go through nonsense criticism. For making me get accused for something I had no fault in. But it passed. It got better when for the first time in my life I was spelled right. It was the admit card for an admission test of an engineering university, two years ago. I actually cried as I held that in my hands, partly because one of my dreams had come true, and the other was going to come true. (Which didn’t come true. I didn’t get admission in engineering. I’ll whine about it sometime later.)
Then came the “meaning” phase. People would see my name and ask me how it was different from the other Maha. And then I had to repeat all the lines that my Ammi had taught me to say (because she knew that I was so fed up with this question that I’d say or do something mean and then it might cause suffering to others). For some years, I kept on telling them my meaning and the right spelling like my mother had taught me. But then I got sick of it too. I decided that I’ll make up a phrase of my own that will definitely help me shut their mouths at once. (This is rude, but I was angry.) I used to be a rude person. Really rude. When people didn’t know the other side of the picture. But hey, everyone becomes one when there’s the need and they feel like it. Okay so we were at that phrase I invented. There’s a funny story regarding that too! It was the second semester of my Honors years when my teacher asked all the students to write a critical analysis on one of the plays she had taught. Nobody did it except me. I had this really long answer on an A4 sized page with clear handwriting and stuff. She was impressed. She asked me to come ahead and read it out loud. I obeyed. There was a round of applause and I got seated again. That was when the real part began. She said, “Mahaah, give me that page you were reading from. I need to point out some main keys from it.”. I gave her that. She skimmed through it and found something weird on the corner of the page. I whispered to myself “Dammit. She saw it. She saw it. I’m dead. She saw it.“. She looked at me and asked, “Is this your name written in Urdu?”
“Oh so its not Maha?”
“Yes mam. Its not.”
“Oh Great. What does it mean?” she asked.
That was when I decided that I won’t hold it back. I said, “Shaistagi aur shuguftagi, jo mujhe chhoo kar bhi nahi guzri.“. I uttered my old invented phrase and the whole class burst into laughter, including the teacher. She held her laughter back and and answered, “Well you do have both of those qualities. You should not say that.”
“Yes mam, I should not, But I feel like I’m none of them.“, I said, embarrassed but surprised.
“Well okay if that is so.. we’ll go on with this….” and then she continued her lecture and I was famous in my class once again.
That was when the search for namesake began. I would ponder that why my parents gave me a name that I actually was not. I would think and think that why did I not consider myself shaista and shagufta when most of the people said that I was. Soon I realized that it was just the far gone criticism I faced about being rude back in school years that kept me from accepting the facts about me. And that realization came when most of the people would just go on as “Oh you are sweet” “Oh you are cute” “Why are you so gentle?” “God, don’t be so humble” and I’d be like, “Thanks!”. I realized that my opinions about me were based on people’s opinions about me. Which is not fair. You are who you are, who are they to tell you who you are? That was the mistake I had made, and I needed to rectify the effect that it had produced.
Quite recently came the “pronunciation” phase when one of my dear friends corrected another friend of mine while she was guessing what the real pronunciation of my name was. She was clueless. That was when Moe said, “Its Muh-aah” (Muh same as huh) the other friend was surprised and asked me why I never corrected her or anyone else? And I burst into laughter saying, “Dude, the thing is, they can’t even write my name properly, correcting the pronunciation would have been like going through hell. Let them call me Mahaah. I don’t even pronounce my name right then whats the big deal?” and she was like, “Yeah right” and all of us blew it in making fun of my name as “Mahahahahah”. Jokes apart, I’ve been thinking about it lately. Like why did I never practice saying my name properly? Why did my family never pronounce my name right? Why did I never get my pronunciation corrected just like I got my spelling corrected, every time someone wrote it wrong. But this one reason silenced all these raging questions. ‘I never pronounced it right then who would have?’. Which led me to accept the pronunciation that everyone knew, I knew, and I was okay with. Like I was dead for twenty years? PROBABLY. “Lets bury this new thing here”, I told my pretty little mind.
And.. I’m perfectly happy with my name now. I know that I am the meaning of my name. I know that my name is my identity. I know that my name is unique. I know that my name when appears on someone’s screen, makes them smile. I know that my name is not a shashkaa.. I know that I love my name. And lastly, I know that I love who I am.
[There’s this blog I read last night and felt like this medium can be used to whine about stuff so why not? Haha. Thanks for reading. Thanks for shaking your head, even.]