Friday, September 12, 2003

Friday Five

The responses to the questions posted this week on Friday Five made me think of something that I have not thought about for quite some time. As a child, I was always curious about our family’s history and the origins of my name. Every time I saw my late grandfather, I would ask him to tell me the story of how our family tree started. He was a great story teller and I would spend hours and hours by his side just listening to him tell of our family tree’s history. I still miss him now that he has passed away but his stories stay with me and I hope to pass on to the next generation. Of course that is dependant on me getting married and having children.

1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? If not, what's changed?
Yes. I have the same name now as I did when I was first given the name.

2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be?
Absolutely nothing. I happened to like my name. It used to be such a bother having to have such a long and unique name but I’ve grown accustomed to it. In fact, my name happens to be one of the best ice breakers I have when I meet new people since it is so uncommon.

3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?)
I was named after my great-great-great-great-great grandfather (how’s that for a mouthful) who lived in what is now the Riau province of Indonesia sometime in the 17th century. It was said that he was a royal bodyguard to the ruler of Riau at the time and was in command of several men in the fight against the Dutch who were in the process of colonizing Indonesia at the time. When the kingdom fell to the Dutch, he became a fugitive and had to leave all his wealth and power to escape to the old kingdom of Siak in Sumatera, Indonesia. It was there that he met and fell deeply in love with one of the Siak ruler’s favorite concubines. Their love affair was discovered by the king and fearing for their lives, they left every possession and fled across the Straits of Malacca to Malaysia where they lived in hiding.

As the story goes, the wrathful ruler of Siak sent word that he vowed vengeance on my great-great-great-great-great grandfather and to anyone who bears his name. Many mercenaries were sent forth to locate the exiled lovers who had now begun to build their new life and family together. When my great-great-great-great-great grandfather realized that he was again a fugitive, he decided to change his name and continue to live as a common person in a remote part of what is now Johor with the woman he loved many years until his death. At his deathbed, he told his family to never use the family name again for the next seven generations since it has brought the family so much pain and suffering. The name was never spoken in public but it was handed down from one generation to the next so we would never forget it.

Fast forward to seven generations later, my father had a dream in which he was visited by my great-great-great-great-great grandfather and was told that he would have sons who would now be able to bear the old family name. When he woke up from the dream, my mother who was already 3 weeks over due with me at the time began having labor pains and they rushed to the hospital as quickly as they could. I must have been a really impatient baby when I was born since according to my mother I was delivered right in the hospital’s reception area within an hour after the first contractions began as they were just arriving. As it was related to me, they were actually shocked the first time they saw me as the doctors told them that they were expecting a baby girl. My father took this and the dream as being of something significant and decided to give me the name of my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.

All the male members of my family who came after me bears a variation to the same name and this would be a tradition that we would carry forth into generations to come. That is why I will never change my name as it is now.

4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why?
I don’t particularly have any names that I especially hate or love. They are what they are. How can one actually hate or love one name over another? Maybe I’m already conditioned to the naming tradition in my family that it is difficult for me to say if there are any names that I hate or love more than others.

5. Is the analysis of your name at accurate? How or how isn't it?
Unsurprisingly both my name and my nickname are not listed on the site for analysis. I guess that they only cater for Westernized names only.

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