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“I Can’t Do The R”

"I Can't Do The R" -

Night classes have always been on my x-list. As a commuter, the last thing you want to be doing at the end of a long day is sitting in an insufferable night class before your long drive back home. What’s worse is when that night class is an irrelevant prerequisite that will do absolutely nothing to advance your career. And then, if things couldn’t get any more unbearable, the following scenario happens not once, not twice, but five times in a row.

The professor takes out the attendance sheet, goes through a few “Emily’s” and “Jake’s,” and then takes that generic long pause. Welp, there goes my que, I subconsciously think in my head.

These professors always manage to turn my simple, two-syllable name into the sound of a crying whale. Why? I will never know.

“Nahaul?” My professor called out. I gave him a blank face and my inner monologue continued: the hell is that, dude?

“Oh looks like I didn’t say that correctly? How do you say it,” he goes on. And so I repeat my name for the fifth week in a row in the slowest pace possible.

“Yeah, I can’t do that. I can’t do ther.’”

Except…. there’s no ‘r’ in my name.

Dios mío. Are you kidding me? It’s one thing to mishear my name and assume there’s a non existent letter, but it’s another to blatantly put in no effort to say it correctly. Is my ‘foreign’ name not worth bending your colonized tongue? Is my ‘exotic’ name too advanced for your stunted mind? Is my native language only ‘beautiful’ when you reblog it on Tumblr or misspell it on your tattoos?

If you can’t say my name, then try harder. You do not get a free pass because you believe the combination of letters in my name are simply “too difficult” for you. Remember, it wasn’t difficult when you colonized my people.

This post is bigger than just the mispronunciation of my name. It is my declaration that I will not let you strip me of my identity. I will not allow you to crumble my name under your breath. I refuse to become so numb to the mispronunciation that I forget who I am and where I came from.

Is my ‘foreign’ name not worth bending your colonized tongue?

I will not give you my nickname because it’s not for everyone, I will not shorten my name for you, I will not give you an “American” version, I will not allow you to call me anything else but the name my grandparents fell in love with. 

The roots of my name were born in the Arab world as “water springs,” in Turkey they were raised as “young tree,”  and in India, they live as “successful.” To you, they are all three — so learn my name, and don’t forget it.

xo,

Nihal (knee-haal).

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