General · Writing

Hello. My name is Zeinab.

nameThat’s my official name on paper, the name I sign my credit card purchases with, the name I give when somebody wants to list me down for something; however, I go by a different name among my inner circles – Zen. In a way it feels like having a double identity. Formally I’m Zeinab, a quiet, reserved girl who never toes the line and stays behind her books. Informally I’m Zen, a clumsy dork who enjoys childish things and eats more chocolate than is healthy.

My parents gave me the first name that occurred to them. Maybe if they had slept on it instead of naming me within the hour of my birth, they would’ve realized I’m not much of a Zeinab. It’s not that I dislike it, but I’m just not sure if it suits me. To be honest, I don’t even know what other name I would’ve chosen for myself instead, but I would’ve definitely preferred something less common. It’s a bit discomfiting when one out of 10-20 girls bears my name… at least where I live. If you stand on a crowded street and call that name, you will be sure to turn the heads of a considerable number of girls.

What does it mean? Zeinab is an Arabic name that stands for “Daddy’s precious jewel” or “a fragrant plant”, though my parents didn’t choose it for its meaning – even though dad did spoil me a lot and mum did make sure I always smelled nice – but rather because it’s the name of an important historical character. It’s been also said that Zeinabs are associated with chubby, rosy cheeks, so I guess that part hits the mark, haha. How do you pronounce it? Zay-nab. Incidentally, my new “identity” came about because my little cousin found it difficult to pronounce it and took to calling me “Zen”. I didn’t mind it; in fact, I felt more at home with it. My friends thought it was cool, and the name stuck and expanded to include variations like Zenny and ZenZen. Some people called me ZeeZee Za Zombie (and still do)… but that’s a story for another time. 😉