Jin Lu? Jin Lu!
Even though you may have very little knowledge of Chinese language, you have CORRECTLY and BEAUTIFULLY pronounced these two complicated Chinese characters for weeks!
Exactly, that’s my name—Jin Lu.
It seems a bit stupid when someone hesitates to give an answer when asked what his/her name is—unfortunately, that was my story for quite a long time.
I have made many attempts to figure out what my name should be since I was very young. My father named me “Jing” meaning crystal at my birth. He explained that the choice was inspired by my family name, Jin .
In my hometown dialect, there is nearly no distinction between the two sounds. So, there was my name: Jing Jing.
How does this sound in your language? The only idea I had about this name was positive enough. For young girls, this was both lovely and lively—short syllables, rising tones, like a silver spoon pattering on a glass or girls’ giggling on the way home.
Yet in a negative sense which I made quite a fuss about, it sacrificed my chance of getting a baby-name like all the other kids have. Let’s say, Yao, the NBA basketball player. In fact (which most people aren’t aware of) Ming is his first name, which means brightness. It’s now reasonable to assume that his parents might have called him “Ming Ming” when he was a little boy – the kind of cute baby-name I wanted but could never get because apparently, Jing Jing, as an official name, also possessed all the essential features of a baby name.
As the result of this convenient two-in-one solution, there came my sadness and jealousy. I decided at a very young age that I was indeed unlucky, because something that was so important and indispensible in my life had been taken away so easily—easier than a slip of the tongue.
But just when I was about to blame my parents about their “laziness”, chances came that I might have a new name! Lu— the simplest pronunciation with the complicated 17 strokes in the character symbolizing delicate jade—was the gift I got the first day of school. How special and rare it was to have a new name—one that looked so smart and that must make those who write it so smart too!
I practiced drawing every stroke of it for maybe a million times on the little blackboard I used to have at home. I was even too excited to ask why and how my dad decided to make me a “Lu”. They were dull reasons which I learned later, something like naming me after a famous anchor woman he liked, someone that read and spoke well. But nonetheless, I now owned a new identity. I could call my little friends and announce some “shocking news”. I could show my teacher how I was able to write such a complicated character even when I had learned simple strokes for only one day.
And secretly, I had one more wish: a baby name I had never had. Jin Lu sounded too wrong to be a baby name. Dad must have no excuse this time.
Yet sadly, I was not a baby anymore.
I finally get by with my family, friends and now boyfriend calling me Jin Lu (my full name) almost all the time (except once in a while they create ridiculous words to address me for fun). I’ve never bothered to take back my “being unlucky” definition of my childhood, but nor have I liked the idea ever since.
I am lucky to have had two names after all. Both are pretty and full of meaning and good wishes. They are not exotic as the Western name I picked for myself when I started learning English (Sally, by the way, a common and a little old fashioned name I’m afraid). They are not long and pretentious as many names you might have come across in those corny fictions that never last longer than a month. They don’t necessarily link me with the lovely memories of friendship as much as a Korean one given by my Korean friends.
But they have been, in a quiet way, very important and indispensible. The time and situations they appeared never allow a baby name. Or maybe I just never needed one. My dad was right about one thing, I am now more and more like the lady he named me after, independent and literate.
Life always plays such naughty jokes with you, doesn’t it?
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