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  • Writer's pictureCity of Edmonton Youth Council

CEYC Names Narrative: Ayesha

Written By: Ayesha Irfan | Edited By: Sithara Naidoo

I’ve always despised my name. From the way it was spelled, to the way it’s pronounced and how common it is within the Muslim community. Growing up no one would EVER pronounce my name right. It was either pronounced Aye- ee- sha, prolonging the ‘e’ or Ayes-ha in which the ‘yesh’ would be blended. My name is pronounced like ‘ Ai-sha,’ meaning the ‘e’ in my name is somewhat silent. Due to this, I used to hate the way my name was spelled. It almost made me feel like a burden to whoever was trying to pronounce it. I always thought the name ‘Ayesha’ was unoriginal, therefore I was unoriginal. I attended an Islamic school growing up, and in every class, I would have at least two or three people named ‘Aisha.’ Therefore, I never really felt like I ‘owned’ or embodied my name.

I’m aware these are ridiculously petty reasons, however, it’s the truth.

I believe that in this world, nothing holds more power or significance than one's name. These few letters effortlessly define one's identity. Ultimately, your name serves as a bridge between your identity and society. However, I felt as if the infrastructure of my bridge kept withering away every time someone would miss-pronounce my name. One day I was complaining about my ‘wittering bridge’ of a name to one of my friends, and my mom overheard the conversation. My mom has a habit of magically appearing when I’m in a predicament, it’s almost as if she can sense it. Kind of scary if you ask me. She immediately called me down after I ended the call and began to interrogate me. Before I could give a concrete reason she began to explain the thought and meaning behind my name.

“She who lives,” my mother stated. That is the exact definition of my name. On August 26th my date of birth,my father quickly ran over to the nurse without consulting my mother and gave me my name. She heard me ranting about how ‘unoriginal’ I felt and reminded me that the first few seconds of my life began in tumultuousness, as she had no idea my father had already given me my name. Despite my reasons, she told me my name was unique due to its very meaning. Anyone can replicate words or stories, but no one can duplicate lived experiences. My name implies that I will live life to its fullest extent whether that be emotionally, mentally, or financially.

Therefore, I physically can’t be ‘unoriginal’

Alongside my name containing a deep and emotional translation, my mom explained how it also holds religious value. Religiously I’m Muslim, and within my religion children usually are named with the intent of embodying our religious values. This includes prominent figures in Islamic history and many other Arabic statements that can be derived from our holy book; The Quran.

The name Ayesha belongs to one of the strongest women in Islam. She was prominent for her intellect and ability to wisely consult on religious issues. She actively broke the stereotype that men could only give scholarly advice. It was after hearing this I felt as if I embodied my name. I’ve always known that I wanted to help fuel change within society. Learning the history behind my name made me realize that oddly everything happens for a reason.

This is probably a weird way to put it but I now see the name given to me as fate. I’ve come to realize that it truly does serve as a bridge between my identity and the society that surrounds me. My name serves as a gateway to my entire identity and the multiple aspects of my life it symbolizes. I no longer get flustered when multiple people have the same name as me because only I can live my life and that is what defines my name.

If you ask me, I think that’s beautiful.

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