Having an unusual name means being used to every possible variants of the actual name … even before we touch on my surname!
I can faintly remember the day when my mum and dad pulled me aside before I started Elementary School (funny how our mind works sometimes, eh?). They mentioned that the name registered in my birth certificate was actually ‘Arry’ and not ‘Harry’ and that I should get used to being called ‘Arry’ from then on. You see, from the time I became self-aware until that moment, I was used to being called ‘Harry’ (locally pronounced ‘Hari’). Even the taunts that the local kids used against me were based on this name – they used to sing a jingle for a local iced tea which started with “Hari-hari panas, hari-hari dingin, hari-hari Teh Botol”. It’s just a silly taunt because ‘hari’ in Indonesian means ‘day’ so the jingle can be translated to “Hot days, cold days, Teh Botol (Bottled tea) days”. I am still called ‘Hari’ when I’m with my family or close relatives.
When I came to Australia, I have to repeatedly utter the mantra of “Harry without the ‘H'”, whenever they want to write my name down. The surname is even more comical as I go into the routine of “T for Tom, A for Apple, N for November …”. Even with the name “Arry”, people still get to pronounce it incorrectly, like the Cockney Harry. Of those who got the pronunciation right, they tend to write it incorrectly – “Ari” or “Arie” would be on top of the list.
So, I’m quite being used to being called or written as “Arry”, “Ari”, “Arie”, “Array”, “Aray”, “Arey”, “Harry”, “Aaron” – I don’t correct people if they pronounce my name as /ah-ri/ or /æ-ri/. I also respond to those who call me “Harry” or “Aaron”, which is normally the case when I order coffee. This afternoon as I ordered my usual large skinny latte, the lady who took my order jotted my name down as “Harry” as she normally does. Two of her colleagues are already in the know about my correct name, so when her colleague made my coffee and gave it to me – she gingerly handed my cup and asked again, “It is ‘Arry’ right?”. I told her not to worry about it, and told her that I was quite used to being called different names.
The icing on the cake is “Amy” – a variant that I had never thought about until a letter was addressed to me as “Ms. Amy”. Then I realised that the two lowercase ‘r’-s could be mistaken as an ‘m’ if the person reads it carelessly and quickly.
So call me any name that you want, which is close to my actual name – just don’t call me “Amy”!