What’s a name? What’s in it? What does it mean? Why are we named and why does it matter? These are questions I hardly think about. Well, but if you ask me these questions, I would probably come up with a thousand answers and go on and on and on until I confuse even myself. But what’s in my name???
Two weeks ago, the much awaited and anticipated JNUCF newsletter ‘Veritas’ came out, with half a page of my much-edited ‘booklet’ review in it. The name “HMINGTHANZUALI HRANGLUNG” was printed underneath. As I glanced through the contents of the newsletter, I couldn’t help but grin at my full, total name. People started getting confused over the person who wrote the book review. I didn’t blame them, just a quick glance at it made me feel as if I’m reading a Thai name or something. “Copied and pasted straight out of Facebook” the editor, John “Tea” grinned. I laughed. It was everything that I have got, all that I am. But it’s nice to see for a change to be referred to with your full name. Besides, it also makes me wander through the years and through family stories to what made me have this name as my own.
My full name, Hmingthanzuali, actually wasn’t originally mine!! If names can be owned than it was my eldest brother’s! If you are a parent you might probably know the joys and jitters over the first-borns. The anticipation, the preparation and the extra care and length people would go to welcome the first-born into this world. It was the same with my family. When my eldest brother was born, the whole family rejoiced, and everyone fought to be the one who named the first boy. Truth is, my brother was given more than a dozen names!!!!! As a kid, it was one of my favorite stories on how Dad won as the ‘namer’. My brother was finally called Malsawma which means ‘blessed’. And yes, back to my name Hmingthanzual was the name given by my maternal grandpa. Mom used to say it was a very close contender to the name that won!! So, I guess my folks must have liked the name that I was named so when I was born 5 years later. I was also given a Bible name, Esther, but somehow it never survived!! Hence, here I am, Hmingthanzuali.
The meaning of my name? Well, my name is in Mizo language whereas my family name in Lai which are sister languages anyway. Hmingthan come from the word hmingthang which means ‘famous name’ or ‘well- known name’, zual means ‘more’. So my name literally means ‘the name which will be known more and more’. My school mates used to say my name means ‘a very famous name’ which I totally disagree. Hranglung is my family name. Hrang in Lai means ‘brave’, Lung means ‘heart’… so it literally means ‘braveheart’. “Mel Gibson!!” Levi and Asen screamed in unison when I explained this to them. One of my friends remarked about my name “So, Zuali, your name means ‘ a braveheart whose name will be known more and more’!!”. You decide.
Even though my family all agreed on my name, for some reason my Mom liked calling me Senmami. Soon after that, I became Seni to family. Sen comes from the word nausen which means ‘baby’, mami is what you would use to call any younger Mizo girl. So I became a ‘babygirl’.
And as I grew up, my name changes a lot. I was Hmingthani till High school, Zuali during my Higher Secondary in Chennai, Seni during college days in Shillong and finally back to Zuali here in Delhi. And as my name varies from Seni to Zuali, I must say there are times I feel attached to people who call me by a particular name than those who call me by another. Now I don’t feel so anymore, besides, I am Seni as much as I am Zuali. And for some, one name might seem distant than the other. So call me anything you like as long as it fits to my numerous names that I am extra lucky to own.
And for that part of the meaning of my name, or my identity without my name, or whether I live upto my name or not, I leave to philosophers like Asang to reason with it! And if you really can’t reason it out then chill…. I’m still privileged enough to own a name (or names), names that I like, names that I am comfortable with and most of all names that sprung my face on people’s head when they hear it.