What My Name Truly Means

Magnolia Flowers, Newbury Street.

At the beginning of

both fall and spring semesters, clinicians in the accent modification lab asked us the meanings of our names. I assumed that many Americans take their deceased family members’ names or ones in the Bible. However, not everyone names their babies that way. One told me that her mom named her after a character of a TV show because she found the pregnant character relatable. There might be thousands of people sharing the same name in this world, but such an interesting story makes the name special.

My name, Mayuka, is not so common even in my home country. And here is a confession: I did not like my name until my mom told me the meaning of it.

I wished I had

been given a different name when I was in second grade. My close friends would call me Mayu, a short form of Mayuka, back then. To this day, my family does the same, and I do not mind. However, a couple of boys in my class would tease my name because it was the same pronunciation as eyebrow in Japanese. The seven-year-old girl had to wonder why she was “eyebrow” while her sister, Yurika, was “lily (Yuri means lily in Japanese).”

One day, I told my grandma that I wanted to have a name of a flower, like my sister. She said, “Oh, dear. Actually, you are a flower, too.” She took me to the back garden, a narrow space between the house and the fence. My grandma pointed out tiny trees, and said, “These are Mayumi, just like your name.” She then cut off a branch with little pink flowers, and handed it to me. Although I am not Mayumi or the flower is not the most beautiful flower in the world, the existence of the flower helped me like my name better.

Soon after I found

a little happiness in the back garden, however, I faced another incident. I was filling out a word puzzle in the class. In the sheet, there were four blanks for four flower names with two, three, four, and five letters*. I put yuri [lily,] my new favorite, mayumi [sprinkle tree,] kosumosu [cosmos,] and kasumisou [baby’s breath.] It was an easy task for me thanks to my grandma, who taught me lots of names of flowers. I brought the paper to the teacher’s desk and showed it to him. To my surprise, he said, “There is no flower, called mayumi. Go back to your seat and come up with another.” I said, “Yes, there is! My grandma showed it to me at home. It was a tree with tiny pink flowers!” The teacher did not listen. Instead, he said, “No, you’re just making it up. Go back to your seat and find another word.”

I returned back to my seat with disappointment. Not only did the teacher not believe me, but also he said the flower sharing the similar name as mine did not exist. Before the class ended, I filled the blank with sakura [cherry blossom,] and turned in the paper stained with my tears.

In the same year,

I had to ask my parents the meaning of my name for my homework. Because of the boys still teasing my name and the teacher denying mayumi as a flower, I did not want to know anything more about my name. At the same time, I did not miss the homework and let the teacher scold at me.

At the dinner table, I asked my mom why she and my dad had named me Mayuka. She smile at me, and said, “Because you are a part of our family and have the best of all of us.” My mom continued, “Your name, Mayuka, consists of each of dad, your sister, and my name.” I finally understood what she meant then. My name, MAYUKA, is a part of my mom, MAmi, my dad, YUji, and my sister, YuriKA. I am a part of the family, and was passed down the best of them. I no longer cared about what the boys or teacher had said because I came to love my name and what it truly means.

Do you know the origin of your name? I would love to hear about the story of your name!

*In Japanse, A as well as Ka are one-letter words. Ex: yuri [lily] is a two-letter word (yu ri) and kasumisou [baby’s breath] is a five-letter word (ka su mi so u).

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