Friday, September 21, 2012

Name Story

I did not realize that my name was Shilo until I watched my father register me for Kindergarten and I heard the lady behind the desk read the name off my paperwork. Everyone I knew called me Sheila. The story my parents tell me about why I have two names is that before I was born my father tracked down a Sikh Master who was visiting town, he informed the Master that he was having a girl and sought advice on a name. The Sikh master replied "name her Sheila but spell it Shilo because that is the proper translation from Sanskrit". I think it is closer to reality that my father liked the name Shilo and my mother preferred the name Sheila and both parents won in a way.
From about middle school to high school I went through life being referred to as two names. My family and old friends called me Sheila but in school I was referred to as both. When I introduced myself I gave people the option of the two names.
I moved to California to live with my Aunt my senior year of high school. My first day in her house she gave me the best advice I have yet received, "choose a name". I chose Shilo for the sake of simplicity. I found it tiresome to explain to people that my name is spelled Shilo but pronounced Sheila.
As a result I have a dual identity. When I go home to Hawaii everyone refers to me as Sheila and I introduce myself as Sheila to new people. I have found this dual identity to be symbolic. Sheila is my childhood self, defined by my parents' culture and the small town I grew up in.
Shilo, on the other hand, is an educated mother and wife living in Southern California and striving for the American dream.

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