Please allow me to start with a phrase we all know very well.
“What is in a name?
That, which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Yet, is it not an essence that the name bestows on a person?
Does a name define a person?
Does a name lead a person?
Is it a name for a person and a person for a name?
I once met a man called Peter,
Couldn’t have another name, but Peter.
Did you meet a Caroline
Whose face and name combined?
A woman called Elaine,
Who wouldn’t fit into any other name?
It all started when I first went to England.
You see… Being born in Spain, in the golden decade of the sixties, when and where church and priests themselves had so much power, I was baptised with a name my parents had chosen. However, whichever name it was, had to have the Maria in front.
It was something like this
What name have you chosen for your child? (would the priest ask)
Very well. I baptise you María del Rosario…
Very well. I baptise you María del Pilar.
And it is in that way today, most of the girls born in Spain between the fifties and early seventies that we have the María in front.
At school, when the teacher was calling the roll, it sounded something like this:
María del Carmen…..
However, the reality is that we do have the “Maria” in front, but we don’t use it.
It is only when we have to hand out our passport or ID, (outside Spain) that, that person reads María as the first name and calls us Maria.
My mother wanted for me the name of Concepción. Of course, María de la Concepción, however, Concepción has a short name and that could be: Conchita, Concha, Conchi… I was Conchi, among my friends and college in Spain. It was when I arrived in London that English speakers found it difficult to pronounce Conchi. Soon, I discovered that Conchita appeared to be easier to pronounce and more beautiful to their ears.
Then, it so happened that in Spain, women don’t lose their name when they get married. Children take their first family name from Dad and first family name from Mum.
Therefore I am:
María de la Concepción García (from my father) Santiago (from my mother).
Too looong…. is the first I hear when somebody has to write my name down. So they go:
Eeny, meeny, miny mo and… Take two of them.
In that way, I could be:
And of course, if instead of asking my ID, they simply ask my name, I will be
Conchita García Santiago
No doubt when I come back to a place I’ve already been in and they ask me the simple question: what is your name? I say: I can’t remember. And as stupid as it might sound, it is true. I can’t remember which name I gave you or which name you took.
Is there enough confusion?
Wait. There is more.
I’ve got married. Despite I never changing my name; I am Mrs Hugill for some people.
Oh sorry! I was forgetting one more!!!!
When I was born they asked my brother -who is twenty two months my senior- What’s the name of the baby? He; Like English speakers, found Conchi too difficult to pronounce, and he said: Coqui!
So cute everybody found that name, that I was Conchi no more among family and neighbours.
Is it there, a name for a person and a person for a name?
Is there a face for a name?