Friday, September 12, 2008

Name change

Well it was during my pregnancy (yes, back in the days beyond time when my life was my own!) that I mosied on down to the good ol' Births, Deaths and Marriages Office in the city and stood in line to change my name. I changed my surname from Yuksel to Arileo. Why? A lot of people ask this, and really it's a fair enough question. Well, at first glance, as you can see, despite my former surname being pronounced Yook-sel, in written form it has the word Yuk in it. "A minor detail!" one may exclaim. But not so! It displeased me. Immensely. It aggravated my aesthetic sensibilities, in fact. It has always niggled at me. I don't like being niggled at. However, despite my anti-niggling preferences, I was prepared to put up with it, and I did for a long time. I mean, it was my name! It was a part of my identity. I couldn't imagine having anything else. Even when I hated my dad for a while, and wanted to break all ties with him, including my surname, despite racking my brain for a good couple of years I never came up with anything that even came close to being imaginable as replacing my actual NAME.

But one day, after putting up with this less than perfect but really quite serviceable name for 31 years, it just began getting stuck in my throat. I remember being asked for my name over the phone for something official, and when I spoke it, it just sounded wrong. It was like I was spitting out something distasteful. And the same thing happened the next time. Suddenly, I just felt as though it wasn't actually my name any more. It was really weird!

Well, now, everyone needs a surname. Our society would collapse if everyone suddenly decided not to have a surname. "I must have a new surname!" I exclaimed. And so began the search, in earnest, of a name befitting a woman of my station. It was not an easy search, oh no! There were trials and tribulations the likes of which I could scarcely convey. Well, I could convey them by just saying it was hard to think of one I guess. That would do it. Mighty hard! It's a huge thing, choosing your new name. I mean, everything you come up with is gonna sound weird, coz it's so new, and the old one so ingrained, so habitual. It really did perplex me for ages, and in the meantime I was stuck with this name that sounded wrong wrong wrong.

I wanted this new name to mean something. I wanted it to be relevant to who I had become. I wanted my spirituality to be involved. I was fairly sure I wanted Leo to be a part of it, since Lions are a part of my spirituality, one of the creatures I feel a deep affinity with. And then one day, as I was walking to work, I came up with Arileo. Don't know why the Ari, it just sounded nice. It was the only name I had come up with that even had a chance. And I liked the feel of it. So I let it roll around in my head for the day, and when I got home I googled Ari, just to see, and lo and behold (and don't you worry, I beheld!) that Ari, in fact, in both Hebrew and Netherlandish, meant... Lion! So inadvertantly (or maybe totally advertantly, or intuitively) I had chosen Lion Lion as my name. Well, it seemed to be getting the spiritual tick of the century, so I went with it. I gave it a month or two to settle into my brain, and then took the plunge.

It was surprisingly hard down at the office. I felt some reservations, some niggles of a new sort. Did I really want to change my name? Was I really gonna go through with it? I ummed, I ahhed, but in the end, after some administrative issues were sorted out, I did it. And it felt good!

Now I toy with my first name. I am thinking of changing it from Nalan to Nalin, officially. I have been trying Nalin on for size for some time now, and I tell you I like what I hear. And see. Again, aesthetically, I like the 'a' and the 'i' in both names - Nalin Arileo. I like that Nalin actually pronounces my name better the way I use it on a day-to-day basis (NAH-lin; as opposed to the Turkish pronunciation, which is more NAH-LAN, and with which I identify less). There are other reasons also, but in the end, I think Nalin does win. It's not a crowd pleaser with my family, but regardless I am pretty sure I'll be back at the old Births, Deaths and Marriages eventually. And from then on I'm not touching it!


...maybe I could do with a middle name?


cramstankin said...

i finally 'get it'. i remember meeting you online the first few times before the first name change, and wondered if there was a connection with Turkey - taught a few girls in the past who were Nalan's. But i never quite got the surname, but now i do. thanks for sharing your story! I have also taught a few children with the surname yuksel's in my career also...!! you know, I am a firm believer in pronouncing a child's/persons name the way it should be pronounced, and have had many a heated discussion with opinionated and ignorant teachers who quite happily revert a name like Burak to 'Bew-rack', Elif to 'A-Leaf', Adem to 'Adam' etc etc etc ... On my high horse i would get. Anyway, if pronounced correctly, your previous surname doesnt sound 'yuk' at all.... I think it sounds very exotic and melodic :D But I like your new names too!!! have to catch up with you all again once school hols come round ... no excuses then! although everyone wil probably be taking a break from meetings and I will miss out again
hope you are well :P

Nalin said...

Cathie! I only just saw this comment of yours now as I trawl through my old email account (was supposed to be cancelled but wasn't, long story) and found the comment notification. How impressive that you insisted on pronouncing the names properly! And how rare! Oh how many names of friends and family got mangled in the mouths of the those who insisted on anglicising everything! Yes, in Turkish my previous name was lovely, and meant Rise Up. I really was surprised when I suddenly felt disconnected from it, even considering my dislike of the yuk. But I like my new name now, I have grown used to it finally, it takes aaaages!

And yes it would be great to catch up again! I'll PM you on AB in case you don't see this comment. xoxo