My Name

Salwa [ 2 syll. sal-wa ] pronounced SEHL-Waa. 1) consolation, solace 2) a quail 3) a luxurious treat

There once was a shy little girl with dark, curly hair and almond-shaped eyes, who was often teased by her classmates for her foreign name. They’d call her ugly things like “Sewer” or “Sour,” teaching her the power that words have to make a heart bleed.

One day on the playground, a beautiful woman appeared and knelt before the girl. Smiling, she whispered:

“My dear, don’t you know that when other children make fun of your name, it’s because they are frightened of its mystery? It is a secret password that people must learn in order to enter the door to your soul. When you are asked by a stranger to repeat your name, it is only the Universe telling you to declare it more boldly. For just as words can cut, they can also heal, and one day this will be your gift to others, my child, through song and pen.

“When someone asks you where you come from, tell them your father hails from an enchanted land of prophets and kings, of snake charmers and magic carpets that sweep people across deserts toward their destinies. One day you will meet your father and hear your name pronounced more delicately and exquisitely than ever before–and you will know that the next man who loves you must say it this way too.

“At times you will grow weary of explaining yourself to everyone you meet. You’ll mistake boon for burden and, forgetting your name’s true meaning, try to call yourself something simpler. But the Universe is patient and will wait for you to realize that there is no better name for who you are. It will let you experience sorrow and loss, only to point you back toward yourself and the solace that you seek.”

That evening, the little girl dreamt of an exotic brown bird, cooing along on the ground before taking off into flight. She never saw the woman from the playground again, until, years later, when she looked in the mirror and smiled at her own almond-shaped eyes.

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