A consonant skipped and a vowel over-stretched. Sometimes, a letter is missing and a syllable-mispronounced. Strange sounds roll out of foreign tongues and are clumsily echoed into space before dissipating into thin air.
You do not expect them to remember how it’s an ‘M’ and not an ‘N’ because the language they speak does not carry that particular letter. At times when you hear it, it sounds like a job done half-heartedly. This word then becomes you. It is associated with your face, your personality- people’s first impression of you. This word has your face as its example if it were ever to become a part of a dictionary.
You have to spell the word out in alien scripts and write it in letters that do not have its sound.
They try their best to remember the word by associating it with something familiar from their own vocabulary; cherry, tsunami, numb, King-Kong. At times they manage to find a phrase that closely resembles the word with some being embarrassing rhyming words.
In official documents, the words are rearranged in orders that you are not familiar with. Sometimes the second word sits in the front- all capital font and with a comma after it. It is hard to tell them that both of the words belong to you and it does not make sense when it’s arranged according to their society’s system. Only when it is combined the right way, does it represent your full existence.
Then you go back- to a foreign place with people whom you cannot seem to find anything in common with. You talk about things that are foreign to them and they too tell you things you find hard to comprehend.
However, there are no awkward rolling of tongues and strange shape of mouths. You do not have to repeat yourself nor exaggerate accents for people to understand. They do not ask you to spell it nor ask you what it means. They just know.
You are glad you did not change it just so in another part of the world, it would be easier for the people around you to call you, or so that you could find a Coco-Cola bottle and pretend it was meant for you. You think it is finally okay that you did not change just so you did not feel guilty about throwing a generic name at the barista in a Starbucks in another continent.
Written in letters that are recognizable to the pronunciation, not just a set of letters to make a strange monotone sound. That is when you realize, it has a story- a history about people who have existed in the shadows of the mainstream world. Your name has a home and a place where it belongs, even if that place is different from YOUR home.