When I was younger I used to hate my name, and I didn’t know why. Now I understand that it was because it felt like a burden to those who couldn’t pronounce it.
Thank you mom and dad, specifically mom for giving me a name that is so hard for most to pronounce –a name that’s usually an ice-breaker in conversations. “What a beautiful name!” “What’s your nationality?” I appreciate the compliments. But it’s also a little exhausting to have this conversation every time and to think about how confusing is to be both Krishna and “Krisna” —the way my name is actually supposed to be pronounced in Spanish.
I grew up in Mexico for the first four years of my life. My mom, a sole Spanish-speaker, once read the name “Krishna” in a book. Krishna is the name of a Hindu god. Since in Spanish the letter “H” is silent, my name is actually pronounced “Krisna.” Most who know me don’t know this.
When I was about 5 and I started school in the U.S., my White teacher very matter-of-factly decided to pronounce my name in English as “Krishna.” Being 5, I don’t really remember what it felt like to start having two different names—one at home and one at school. My entire family still calls me “Krisna.” All my friends and colleagues call me Krishna. I’ve mostly adapted to it, but I have always struggled with it.
Sometimes, when I have the energy, I like to explain the duality of my name to people and they’ll ask me—“What pronunciation do you prefer?” My answer is always the Spanish pronunciation –“Krisna.” That’s who I was born and raised as and that’s who I most identify with. But a lot of people can’t pronounce it, so I’ve always given in to what makes others most comfortable. This is has been hard and I don’t want to do it anymore. Many years later, I still resent my pre-K teacher for not honoring the correct pronunciation of my name, and me being 5 years old, not having the voice to correct her.
Sometimes I think about what I’d name my kids. I want to give them a name that my mami and abuelita can pronounce and one that is difficult to pronounce in English so that I can teach them to embrace it and stand up for it. Because I love my name now. I think it’s beautiful.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/oh-nah-my-queen/