Standing in the crowded hall, I was vaguely aware of the ornate opulence which on any other day would have fascinated me. I perceived that the strangers around us were speaking in different tongues many of which I would not have comprehended, even if they had not been speaking in hushed whispers. One could not talk out loud in these halls, out of reverence and out of fear, plus no one wished to miss the chance to hear their names being called in indication that the requested audience had been accepted. There would be no second chance for missed opportunities.
I considered briefly the advisability of speaking up, and causing a distraction. However, I feared that the consequences would not be what I desired. They never were, no matter what I ever did.
I glanced at my mother towering over my cowered form, her shoulders set, and an anticipatory gleam in her eye. Today was the day she had been waiting for. The day when I would become fully hers.
That's when I heard them call my mother's name. And alas she heard it too. Swiftly she proceeded to the opened doorway, pulling me roughly by my arm, in a way that would have made it impossible for me to walk alongside her of my own free will even if I had wanted to. Thus, we entered.
She was seated in the center of the small chamber, and I could tell that if she had been standing up, she would not have been tall. Her petite body contrasted sharply with the air of her presence. The high one commanded us closer. "What is it that you desire?" she asked in a voice that should have been booming. My mother then asked for permission to whisper a name in her ear. Permission was granted. I strained my ears in an effort to catch it, but alas no chance. My mother backed up again, and explained, "This is my only daughter. I wish her to have this name."
Knowing another's name could give you influence over them. Naming provided control. Defending oneself required knowing one's own name.
As my mother she had a right to my respect. I could not publicly contradict her. If the high one asked whether I agreed to the renaming, I could thus not say no. Knowing this the high one would undoubtedly not even bother to ask. My fate was sealed.
I waited resigned, and bowed my head, as the high one addressed me, no doubt about to start the renaming ceremony. It took me a while to process the meaning of the six words I heard, "You can choose your own name."
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