Abdul Hamid and Kamisah named their children Maznah, Maznoor, Mustapha and Mustakim. We were quite amused being the 4 Ms and our teachers in Pasir Panjang English School knew of our connection because of the first letter of our names. We thought it was quite fun for us to have the same type of signature i.e. m. hamid.
My sister's name was very straightforwardly Malay, easy to pronounce and remember. So was Mustakim although it was not such a common name. But it had a beautiful meaning - "The Straight Path " taken from the Fatiha. As for Mustapha it was a happy name for my brother until that song 'Ya Mustapha" became a big hit in the early 60s. Until today I don't know how he coped having his name associated with exotic images of Middle Eastern belly dancing belles. That song was sung in about 3 or more languages but the running lines were :
Cherie je t'aime, cheri je t'adore
Como la salsa del pomodoro
Darling, I love you darling,
I adore you - like tomato sauce.
As for my name, it was a sad woeful story. It's a difficult name to remember and I suffered a lot of teasing because of it. I was called 'must-snore' or 'must-gnaw'. When I was the Editor of the school magazine at Yusof Ishak Secondary School, the co-editor was Mr Koh Sei Hian. Our colleagues had a lot of fun repeating this line - 'You must know (Maznoor) Koh says when (Sei Hian). GRRRRRR!
When I was in Primary Five, my class teacher Mr. Chia Wai Chee discovered from my birth certificate that my name was actually spelt 'Maznoor' and not 'Maznor'. Now that I like, because 'noor' (with a 'u'sound) seemed more feminine than the guttural 'nor' and as 'noor' means light I felt I could shine a little. But it was to no avail. I remained 'No' for ever and ever.
My most difficult time was when I had a student, a male student called Masnor. I recalled how Abah had a friend also called Hamid and they used to refer to each other as 'Che Nama'. Now I can't do the same with my student, can I? So whenever I have to call him I have to grit my teeth and sometimes the two of us can't help but smile. I wondered how he must have suffered too because he has a girl's name! And I thought I had a problem.
In Leicester, in any written communication with the Muslim community they would spell my name as Mansor, Manzour, Manzoor. Oh what the heck!!!
Then I started on a new adventure in 2000 - of picking up jobs in the factories as an Agency Worker. That experience warranted a whole new chapter and I must say it was one of the most enjoyable and challenging time of my life in Leicester. So I reported for work at Cobalt - a sort of postal centre for all kinds of institutions.
I went to see Claire the Supervisor and I gave her my name. It was a Monday morning and already she looked frazzled and knackered. She looked puzzled - then sighed and said "I'll call you Maizie" and then showed me my work table. And so, at last I had a name that anyone and everyone can remember!! I became 'Maizie' for evermore and where ever I worked in my new career as a factory worker in Leicester. You can't imagine my relief when I gave my name to a stranger and he/she could remember and get it right. Oh what joy!
Abah, I do wish you had given me a more manageable name like Aminah or Fatimah, although I would have preferred Maimunah. I can imagine a scenario where someone I adored from afar would call me "My Munah" especially during those difficult teenage years!!
For the benefit of a commentator from June 27 who "...just wish you were slightly happier", please do not misconstrue this posting. I tend to have an ironic, wry sense of humour. I still love my Abah to bits and I can live for many more good years with this unique name he gave me.