My Peculiar Name

After my Mother’s Day article was published in The Star (Malaysia’s local paper), I thought I’d want to do the same for my dad too. But I was so busy during Father’s Day month, so…that didn’t happen 😦 Morever, I didn’t know how I should approach the story…so,…I delayed it till about a month later…when an idea finally struck me…and….so, I sat down, and wrote it.

4 months later, it was published 🙂 Here’s the article online (Thanks Kiang, for pointing it out ;)) Oh I didn’t even know that it was in the papers till my aunt notified my mom who then sms-ed me about it 😛

The online link is here:

Or just read it here 😛

WHAT should we name her?” I imagined my mum asking, looking down into my bewildered face as my newly opened eyes scanned the world I had been born into.

“She’s our first child. And I want her to be No.1 in everything she does,” I can almost hear my dad saying optimistically. With this, the name “Wan” (One) was formed. How did the “Jee” come about? They can’t recall.

I didn’t think much of my name in my earlier years. Not when it became the centre of attention. You see, many thought that it was a rather peculiar name, especially for a girl.

When a teacher called out my name during a roll call for the new choir, she jolted when she saw me and exclaimed, “Oh, I was expecting a Malay boy”. I smiled sheepishly and mumbled a few words as my face turned red in embarrassment.

And that was not to be my only experience. Many others followed after that, as my name slowly turned into a recreational treat. Kids began teasing me with names like “Jilo (Zero) One”. There was also “Lousy One”, and the ultimate: Loji, which later became Loji Penapis Tahi, which, of course, means “sewage treatment plant”. Some kids even created a song, just for me, which made fun of my name. (It’s singing in my head as I write this … arrrgh!).

I tried so hard to stifle my anger and humiliation, but it still consumed me. And self-esteem was slowly being crushed. I. So. Hated. My name.

My dad, in the meantime, truly believed that I’d live up to it. Even if I thought I couldn’t, he was determined to make sure I would.

When I begun reading lessons in kindergarten, my dad began to conduct flash card lessons with me and my two other siblings. We’d compete with each other to see who could make out the word first. I loved every moment of it because I always won. And, of course, I consistently scored As in my spelling classes.

Art classes were also one of my favourite lessons during kindergarten, for the simple reason that my work always ended up pinned up on the classroom’s walls. My dad, of course, then tried to turn this daughter into a 21st century Frida Kahlo and sent me off for additional art lessons. All of this effort just to make sure that I aced kindergarten. Kindergarten? Yes. Even in art? Yes.

Years later came badminton, which I did pretty well at – thanks to my dad’s fervent belief in my ability. He’d take me to the court every weekend and would practice with me for hours until I got my strokes right. When I began to improve, he encouraged me to compete with better players so I could learn from them.

After the games, he’d sit with me and analyse my strengths and weaknesses and we’d practice on improving the bad points. All this just to prepare me for interschool competitions. Our efforts paid off. I won competitions and was the only person who was picked to represent my state.

I was also selected to represent my school in a Bahasa Malaysia debate competition – not because I was good at it, but because my teacher couldn’t find anyone else.

I was apprehensive because I wasn’t very confident in my written and spoken BM. But I agreed to give it a try. Once again, my dad came to the rescue. Not being very fluent in BM didn’t stop him from giving me ideas and having in-depth discussions on the various topics I had been given. Believe it or not, my school won the state competition, and I was Best Speaker.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without my dad.

For all of this, and more, I thank you, Pa. For teaching me to believe in myself and to always give my best in everything I do.

And thank you for my name. I’ve enthroned myself as G1, as in the Great One. Narcissistic? Ask my dad. He doesn’t think so. And that’s all that matters to me.

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