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Selasa, Juni 03, 2008

What is in a name?

Referring to the previous post I entitled “Sepuluh Tahun Reformasi”, frankly speaking when rereading it I felt a bit worried if my blog visitors (particularly those who do not have time to read my thorough posts in some blogs I have) think that I am a racist,. Especially the last part: the moral lesson of Sugiharti Halim’s experience. Just like what this particular character expected to have “Julianne” as her name, perhaps Chinese Indonesian would find less offensive experiences if they had ‘western’ names.
Of course everyone is free to pick any name they like most, not limited to what ethnic group they come from. I do appreciate any name and I usually call my friends/students their nicks they feel most comfortable. For example: this semester I have a female student who introduced herself as ‘Ninik Wijayanti’ at the beginning of our class. However, in the attendance list of the mid-term test several weeks ago, her name was written “Liem Kiong Nio”. I directly recognized it was her name since I found the names of the other Chinese Indonesian students in my class but hers. I didn’t ask her about that though. I was afraid if that would make her feel uncomfortable. Besides, it was not a crucial case anyway. (FYI, it is a small class, only consists of 10 students.)
I myself have a nick that is absolutely more popular than my real name printed in the birth certificate. When I was at school, I really did not like this name taken from Arabic. I thought I wouldn’t mind at all if my name were just NANA. In my childhood, I was embarrassed too if my schoolmates knew my family name PODUNGGE. To Javanese, PODUNGGE is absolutely a weird name. Many of them misspelled and mispronounced it. I did not want to be weird. I wanted to be the same as the others who did not have any weird family name.
In the reality, many of my classmates when I was at college didn’t know my real name. Neither do most of my workmates now. Until now I still feel uncomfortable when people call me my real name because it gives me an impression that they keep a distance from me. Or they are acting too formally that I don’t like.
However coming back to what was stated in the short movie SUGIHARTI HALIM, what is in a name? Whether my name is NANA PODUNGGE or anything else, I am still me, my identity is still the same: a woman who claims herself as a feminist, secular, a single parent of my only daughter, loves reading, writing, blogging, swimming, listening to music. Nothing changes.
I am of opinion that it is high time for people to appreciate other people’s rights to choose any name they want so that there will be no more offensive and nosy questions experienced by Sugiharti Halim, “What is your real name?” or “What is your Chinese name?”
PT56 22.30 020608

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