What's your name? | Teen Ink

What's your name?

September 4, 2023
By atiyah115 SILVER, London, Other
atiyah115 SILVER, London, Other
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
'If you go chasing butterflies, they'll just fly away. But if you spend time creating a beautiful garden, the butterflies will come to you. And even if they don't, you'll still have a beautiful garden.'

It’s pronounced ‘UT-ee-yuh’. My name. It’s spelt Atiyah, but it’s not pronounced ‘At-I-yah’, or ‘Ateeya’. And no, it’s not Asiya, or Aaliyah or even Aditya. 

With the new school year around the corner, I’m already drowning in dread. Longing for the holiday’s to never end, to wake up on the 7th of September at midday is consuming me. And as someone with a ‘foreign’ name, waiting to see what crazy mispronunciations I get from my new teachers simply adds another bucketful of dread to the ocean drowning me. 

Eventually, in a way, you give up. I did anyway. I don’t remember when exactly, but I guess so many of my teachers got my name completely wrong and would barely pay attention when I corrected them, that at school I became ‘Ateeya’. When I started high school, I didn’t even try ‘UTeeyuh’. It’s either ‘Ateeya’ or I just go with whatever the teacher says.

Once upon a time, I started to think my name was odd too. Even among my siblings, who are all named after famous, historical, Islamic figures, I was the only one who didn’t know anyone with the same name as me. At some point, I decided to stop wasting my breath correcting people who didn’t actually seem to care how to say my name. 

I’m starting to wish I hadn’t though. Juliet said, ‘What’s in a name?’. Well, my name is Arabic for ‘gift’, or ‘gift from God’. My name is a nod to my islamic heritage and my religion. My name has a similar meaning in Urdu - a nod to my South Asian (specifically Indian) heritage. My name is a nod to my Dadi , who chose it for me. 

It’s a representation of my Nani, who spent 4 years in the NCC (India’s National Cadet Corps). Of Abbah’s great-grandfather, who used his status as a lawyer to help fight against the British. It’s a representation of Mama’s grandfather, who fought in World War 2 for the British. Of my Nana who’s in India right now, helping to build a Mosque, regardless of the country’s new anti-Islamic laws. 

I only just started to realise what a big deal it was. I’m always laughing with people who have the same problem as me, and we probably always will laugh about it. But if you think about it, the West has ‘white-washed’ so many names with such precious meanings. Take Muhammed, one of the most popular, if not the most popular, names in the world. Yet, in the West, Muhammed (pronounced ‘Moh-hum-ud’) has become ‘MAhAmAd’, or ‘MoohAmAd’. 

So, what’s in a name? Well, my name is ‘arabic enough’ to show my religion and ‘urdu enough’ to show my heritage. Name’s are filled with history, culture and religion. 

My name is Atiyah - pronounced ‘UT (like in but, or cut, though the t is slightly heavy on your tongue) - ee - yuh’. It’s not written how it’s said, but English is my first language, and it’s far from impossible to pronounce. 

So please, don’t let people destroy your name. Correct them, over and over and over, until they get it right. Save the history, culture and religion that your name holds.

The author's comments:

For everyone living in the West, with a name from somewhere else. 


Dadi - Dad's mum

Nani - Mum's mum

Abbah - Dad 

Nana - Mum's dad 

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