What’s In A Name?

“That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” 

-Romeo and Juliet

(That may be so, but what if the rose doesn’t smell like a rose?)


A long time ago, when I was but an amorphous mass of rapidly dividing cells, my placenta, that is, my telephone line, my internet connection, my cable, my pantry and my bathroom all combined, developed as a placenta praevia. It led to some inevitable, but nonetheless minor complications for my mother at the time of my birth and she had to stay in hospital for a few days longer than was normal.

My mother had liked the name “Hadia” for a long time, and so it was decided, upon it’s arrival, that this little bundle of joy should be called just that.

One of the days after, the maternity ward’s nurse stopped as she came by my mother’s bed. I imagine her to be a freckled, mousey haired woman, with named Margaret or Esther or something along those lines, no doubt. In (what I imagine to be) a southern Irish lilt, she enquired the meaning of my name. Upon hearing the answer, she cried “Are ya sure ye want t’name her that?! Ack sure, she couldn’t lead herself outta the birth canal!” which (I always imagine), was followed by a hearty chuckle. She then, most likely, continued to straighten my mother’s pillow in a business-like manner, before breezing out of the room still tittering at the thought.

Coming to more recent times, the amusement glinted in my mother’s eyes as she told me the story. My own laughter, however, was short-lived as I realised that indeed, the shoe didn’t seem to fit. I’ve heard it being said that the meaning of a person’s name often describes a part of, if not all of, their personality. This presented quite a predicament for me.

The saying may be true that “all who wander are not lost”, but, while being well experienced in wandering, I most definitely wouldn’t consider myself fit to lead anyone anywhere. The “Hadia” or guide in me must be well hidden, as the thought of having such responsibility gives me jitters.

One chilly December afternoon, while roving the streets of Lahore in the back-seat of a rickshaw packed with four friends, a heated discussion caused by a minor confusion occurred. Being the most frequent visitor, I found myself in the position to provide directions to our destination. My throat became dry no sooner than the idea was proposed. The rickshaw driver’s eyes flitted back and forth, from the still red traffic light to me through the rear-view mirror, and back to traffic light. I glanced at the red light too, a ticking time bomb, a warning signal. Left or right? Right? Or was it left? All previous knowledge I had of the area departed me and I was at a loss for words. The light changed colour before I could decide, and while I managed to choke out a feeble “Left!” in the last millisecond, I could tell my companions’ faith in me was at doubt. Let’s just say that particular journey resulted in four fed up ladies (as well as a rather embarrassed “Hadia”) arriving at their desired destination considerably later than they hoped. So much for guiding anyone to righteousness.

Few must possess the same qualities as I, of being both a wanderer and hopelessly lost! Throughout my early years, even, I had a high propensity to wander off when we were in crowded places. Whether it was my own thoughts that led me astray, or the attraction of the surroundings, I certainly don’t remember; but I do recall that it was terrifying every single time. One particularly horrendous instance was on a family holiday to Disneyland. My parents had turned around to gawk at some attraction, while I, caught up in the steady flow of holiday makers was swept away. I didn’t realise how far I had gone, and certainly didn’t know where I was, which led to nothing but the unavoidable waterworks. What a pitiable sight it must have been, this little pony-tailed girl, tears falling thick and fast down her face, Minnie Mouse clutched in one hand, wiping her snot away with the other. I was spotted by a French student, who thankfully could string together a sentence of English and swiftly returned me into the arms of my panicking mother.

I often have such doubts about my “Hadia-ness”.  I have never been able to be bossy and usually am the first to compromise. However.I have younger siblings, for example, who I never fail to boss around and tell off. I provide constant reminder for them to toe the line. And strange though it seems, they do look up to me as an example.  I have learnt that when I am assertive or I find myself to be insistent about something, it’s rarely irrational and I know my heart is in the right place. I usually end up being the neutral party or the confidante in a spat and my thoughts are well heard and acted upon by peers.  These few arguments that still give me hope. Maybe there is something of a leader in me, in that case. Not a president, but a vice president, maybe? A Neville, perhaps, if not a Harry, trumping up heroically when least expected?

Maybe I am Hadia, after all, and not just in name.



Flipping page after page,
For days upon days,
Sub-stages sandwiched in tests;
We keep our poor heads,
Off pillows of bed,
To battle with each of these pests.

This lecture, that figure,
The load just gets bigger,
We’re stuck in a nauseous trance;
Our heads beginning spinning,
Surely, sleep is winning,
For the words have started to dance.

The day will soon come,
When our wits are all numb,
Pages rifled and pens clicked on cue;
Exchanging glances with friends,
Till the time finally ends,
On the tips of out tongue , “How’d you do?”.

On that fateful board,
Be it bloodstained or scored,
With marks high or horrendously low;
A clap or a cheer,
A sniff and a tear,
Then it’s off to the canteen we go!

I’ll admit, this poem is rather like some of the things I wrote while in school. I was, however, thinking I may send it into the college magazine.