Before I was born, my mom only had one name in mind for me: Tasneem. When I asked her why she chose that name, she said it was because she liked it, and that was it.
I wanted to be named after someone. I feel that it gives your name a backstory and connects you to someone in the past whom you probably never met, with a rich history and a story to tell. My youngest sister is named after my maternal great- grandmother. I never met her but my mom, aunt and uncles told me stories about her and I was fond of looking at old photo albums to see pictures of family members long past. I wondered, if I was named after anyone, would I want to know more about them and see if we have similarities other than our names? Knowing myself, the answer was yes.
Growing up in Cape Town for the first decade of my life, the name Tasneem was common. There was nothing special or unique about it. I can’t recall how many Tasneem’s there were in Primary School; too many to count and too many for my liking. When I was younger, I loved the meaning of my name, but as I grew older and met Tasneem’s everywhere I went in Cape Town, the fondness dissipated; I shared a name with too many people for me to call it my own.
When I moved to Qatar, I was the only one with my name in the entire school. And oddly enough, even though it’s an Arabic name and I was in the Middle East, I never encountered anyone with the same name in all the years that I lived there.
When I thought about it, I decided I liked the softness of my name. It isn’t guttural or harsh, it’s a lingering whisper. But it’s not so much the sound of my name that I like, it’s the meaning: Fountain in Paradise. I decided to Google it and found this:
“TASNEEM: Name of a fountain in Jannahh (Paradise) whose drink is superior to the purest of wines. Its nectar will only be drunk by those nearest to Allah Ta’ala. Literally means “rich and elevated”.
I don’t know whether our names influence who we are and if we somehow try to live up to the names we’re given or whether it plays an integral role in our personality. Perhaps that’s up to each individual, but I’ve had a personal love/hate relationship with my name in the past and I’d say that names are a part of who we are; we identify with them on some level.
These past few weeks, my Facebook newsfeed was filled with new-born baby pictures. It seems everyone gave birth around the same time; June and July. I love babies and I always love hearing what people name their children.
Nowadays though, names have become so
ridiculous unique that it’s difficult to find someone who shares the same name, especially if you’re named after Superman, like Nicolas Cage’s son. He named his son, Kal-El. That’s a name to live up to. And how many Kal-El’s are you going to find on Earth, let alone in school? Granted, that’s a pretty cool namesake. Who else can say, “I’m named after Superman”?
Then again, would anyone really want to say that?
Are you named after anyone? And do you think your name influences who you are in some way?