Names with Story

Names with Story is an ongoing project where I ask for names of my followers on Instagram (@darkgravity) to share the stories behind their names. I pick the ones that are unique and turn it into beautiful typography. At first I was doing calligraphy to write it, but I decided to do letterings so I can put more effort into each of the artworks, which is what I think each stories deserve.

My name, Claire, is named after my grandmother who died days after giving birth to my mom due to breast cancer. She knew she was going to be too weak and probably wouldn't make it, but didn't care about her life, just her daughter's. My mom was hesitant about having kids in fear of not being a good mother, since she didn't have one. But my mom is seriously the best. I'm honored to be named after the mother of the best woman I know.

Mariel comes from my mom and dad's name (Marie and Relly) combined. Sometime in college, I found out that my father has a 10yr old daughter named "Mariel" from another woman. This got me so confused. Did he name her after me because he loved me that much? My logical self was thinking - so he wouldn't make a mistake of calling his daughter the name of the other, better to give the same name.

I still love my name. I never let it resonate whatever mistakes my parents had in the past. Although sometimes, I still wonder. Because years after my dad passed away, I still don't have the answer.

My name is Hira. In arabic it means enlightenment. It is also the name of the cave in Mecca in which the holy Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammed by God according to the tradition of Islam. My great grandmother escaped a civil/ethnic war in India fleeing with her five young children and no money or possessions. She left behind her home and her stubborn husband who refused to leave. She wanted her children to live a life of peace- free of persecution for who they were. A few decades later when I was born, she said I would probably be the last great grandchild she saw in her lifetime so she wanted to name me. She told my mom that her entire life she has sought peace, stability and happiness, and she had only had it in the later years of her life. She gave me a name that reflects this. I consider her the bravest woman I know, and my personal heroine :) 

I've got a normal ole name - Kelsey. I also respond to Chelsey. My southern side of the family calls me Keltsey. I never thought much of my name, but I found out that it means "refuge". All my life, my mom told me to "be a friend to everyone." I've grown up trying to do just that. I guess I'm living up to my name - I can be a safe harbor in which a friend can take comfort.

My name is Munira; it is an Arabic name which means bright and luminous, and was given to me by my paternal grandmother. She is currently my only living grandparent, ever since her husband (my grandfather) passed away last year. Both grandparents on my mom's side departed while I was still young, and they lived in Bangladesh so I didn't grow up knowing them well. I've been thinking a lot lately about how strange and perhaps lucky it is that the grandparent who I was and still am closest to is the one who's still around and going strong despite her many serious ailments she's had for several years. I honestly pray that she outlives us all. As for this name she bestowed on me, I can say I've had an interesting relationship with it. I didn't know it was a unique name until the first day of kindergarten. Back then, most kids were given very straightforward American names and it was a source of ridicule to have one that was different. I was called everything from Manure to Minura to Marina. One of my closest friends was Filipina, and her dad was constantly calling me Manila. He wasn't trying to be funny either, that's really what he thought he heard. Every single time. When I got to Junior High, someone popular said he's gonna start calling me Munny for short. Everyone followed suit and it became my new name. To this day that is the name ppl know me as. I'm now 30 and I've decided that it's too juvenile to continue going by that nickname; plus Munira is an awesome name. Anyone who has difficulty saying it just needs to figure it out. or alternately, go kick rocks.

I'm Filipino-Indian, and my name is Deepa. My Indian grandmother, a very proud and strong old lady, was not too happy that my older sister wasn't given an Indian name, so she watched out for my birth like a hawk. As soon as I was born (during Deepavali, the Indian Festival of Lights), she sent a telegram to my parents saying "Her name is Deepa." End of discussion! Deepa, which means "light", wasn't the easiest name to grow up with in the Philippines (way too many "Deepa naliligo" [English trans: "Haven't bathe yet!"] jokes!) but I've come to love my name and the heritage that comes with it.

My name is Mark and I was diagnosed with HIV just a year ago. So, what got me to finally get checked up was when I started to feel really sick, I was skinnier than my usual frame (30 pounds less than what I am used to.) and generally my whole health is slowly deteriorating without form of progress from any medicine.
Upon being diagnosed, I had this feeling that I am 'Mark-ed' for life. And I often joked that I wouldn't live past 40 or something like that. I know, drama or whatever. But this only epitomizes the term, 'Life is too short.'. A phrase we often throw around carelessly. It only became more enlightening was when I got stranded in Hong Kong, I realized my world is so small and I could still do things and push further. So I started to backpack, couchsurfing even. I also realized how far I've gone, because I was in front of a beautiful monument, the Angkor Wat, in a year after I was diagnosed.
 
This condition opened up an issue that should be addressed. I realized we are not receiving the right information about HIV/AIDS. The way the condition is communicated in my country is often sexualized or perverted. Our society paints the condition to the public as something to be feared. That HIV/AIDS is a 'GAY' thing. When ironically, the first documented case of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines is from a woman, not a gay man. Which only made it more plausible that the condition can affect anybody, regardless of socio-economic status, age, race and lifestyle choice.
I was pissed I couldn't find a proper resource locally online for HIV and/or they usually use this beat up trope of a sexified image of a naked torso and it just irked me to open those sites at work when I needed information.
 
People live with HIV/AIDS everyday. It isn't just a fluke or a 1/100 chance that you'll survive. Take a test, get into care, stay in care. Everyone can survive, taking a test and getting 'Mark-ed' for life isn't the worst thing in the world, Also, getting tested isn't a mark for shame, it should be a mark of bravery whether it comes out positive or not. A lot of people get HIV/AIDS without knowing where they got it from. I for one, don't know where I got it, from where or from who, but I am focusing on what I can do right now. To be forgotten is worse than death, as I always say, so do make what you do now meaningful.

My name is Helen, and I used to hate telling people that. 

When I was little I would lie about my name when introducing myself. I'd say my name was Michelle, because that's what all the cool and pretty girls were called. I am of Greek background and it is tradition to be named after your grandmother. I was always told by others that Helen is  "...an old person's name" and  "... a boring name". These negative comments eventually made me feel ashamed of my name and I started to associate them with my own personality, thinking they must be a part of who I was. 

But as I grew up I realised that a name doesn't define you, you define a name! And the beauty from your own heart can make people see the beauty in anything. Now, I am 25 and people tell me that I'm the only Helen they know and that the name sticks with them because I am a loving and quirky person. Hearing these comments make my day! My message to anyone who has ever hated their name - don't!

Learn to value and appreciate your name and also yourself, you are so worthy.