Shakespeare famously said through Juliet "That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
But is that really so?
A name is a title. It is an adornment and a symbol. It's a powerful piece of us. It is what we respond to. It might not be who we all are yet we become different if it changes.
My story goes that my parents met an Indian girl named Siema (pronounced Seema and worldwide spelled as such but my parents had to give me a run). They liked the name so much so that when I was born, my dad asked his friend, an Arabic language expert, if the name could have a meaning in Arabic. He was told it could be a derivative of the quranic aya
"سيماهم في وجوههم من أثر السجود"
Which literally translates to a skin marking that imprints on one's forehead from prolonged prostration to God (the Muslim prayer is made up of specific physical movements that include bringing one's forehead to the ground multiple times in each prayer). The meaning to be conveyed is that your face reflects the inner you. The ancient Arabs would say
ما أسر أحد سريرة إلا أبداها الله على صفحات وجهه وفلتات لسانه
Whatever you hold within you of good or evil, God will draw/bring out on the pages of your face and bouts of your tongue
(An old wise man recently told me "it's a burden your parents bestowed upon you. You unconsciously feel the desire to live up to your name." Maybe. Maybe not. I once knew a Hope who was an absolute pessimist).
Anyway that is how I came to be named.
As far as I know I am the first Sudanese Siema(sp). I know at least 4 Seemas named after me. I think this deserves to go down in history *insert hair flip and Cleopatra'ish pose*
I cannot recount the number of times I had to explain my name. Or the number of times stubborn Sudanese just flat out refused it. It didn't exist so it cannot be was the reasoning. I was instead given more common names like Sumaya and Shaymaa by several teachers in school and college.
To make matters more interesting and to add to the story, our neighbors to the North, the Egyptians, call the movie theaters (seema). And they also happened to have a famous candy brand by that same name. To my horrific delight, that company went on to produce jam and honey too and TV commercials arrived in Sudan in the mid 80s. My school friends made sure I heard about it.
I was also serenaded in my college years with
"سيما يا عسل يا احلي عسل إنتاج مصانع. ..مصانع صبار"... the honey commercial
As I write this I have to admit it's corny cute. If I were to go back, I would be less embarrassed by it and
enjoy it more.
The reason I have come to like my name is that I have discovered it to be an international one. It makes me a child of the world. It fits in fine almost everywhere. It's shared by Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Persians.
I've come across it a lot in the Indian community where it means face or boundary in Hindi.
Seema in Hebrew means precious thing or treasure (Met an Israeli whose sister was a Seema. That served to break the ice in my first real life Israeli meeting :)
And in Persian it means face.
Was told in Latin it means sprout and in Scottish translates into listener (but as far as I know it is not used as a name).
In Islam, it is narrated that a father owes his child 3 things; to choose a good, wise woman to mother him and bring him up well, to give him a good name and to teach him the holy book.
(يحسن اختيار أمه، وأن يحسن اسمه، وأن يعلّمه الكتاب)
I attest that my dad did all three things and for that I am blessed and pray he finds peace in this life and the eternal abode.
So what's in a name? A lot. A name has a mysterious power. It somehow captures a piece of our soul. It reflects our essence and has a hand in molding us.
I'm known for asking friends to name their daughters Seema. It might seem outwardly narcissistic but that is not the case. I have lived this name and enjoyed it fully and am aware of the doors it opens. It is a gift I want to give to you my friends. A piece of me if you may.