The rose in the name

I make them call me Nina, but name is Annarosa

Why I hate my name, I do not know

for my name is graceful with petals and thorns.

I don’t think it started with the bullying at school. I already hated my name. Even when I was a baby girl, with no idea to leave the country, I found that my name was too long and too Italian. I thought it had an old sound and was rather laughable. I knew more than one version of the name Anna + Rosa* and the pink flowered part was always at the start, not in the end, like a useless appendix.

Even if my mother tried to give me reasons, like traditions and stuff, I could not understand why she had imposed upon me such a ridiculous name. My beloved grandma was simply Anna and everybody loved her. Like her name, she was a cheerful, pragmatic woman. I had that smelly appendix, and people started to say that, like my name, I should have petals/grace and thorns. Over-watching The Rose of Versailles as a child did not help at all with this idea of romance and pain and the refusal of one’s femininity.

Then school time came, and the dull name jokes came as well. In the beginning, they were just dumb; then I gained weight, and the worst of all the nicknames was born: Ciccia-rosa. I think it translates with “Pink-fatty” or something like that. I don’t know how English speaking people like to serve self-hatred to plump children. After a while, I ceased being fat and while stupid people were still thinking how to call me next (they tend no to process things too quickly) I left the old town to study at the University in the big city. New people asked me what my name was and I pragmatically answered Anna, with a smile. All my new friends called me Anna and most of them still do, even if they have discovered my real name. My husband still has my number in his phone book under the name Anna Metal. But that is another story.

I think that in a way, that stupid idea of romance and pain tied to the symbology of the rose affected me a little. And the silly names at school? Yes, the kids were responsible for the mean things they were doing but I was the first to feel shame for that rose in my name. Because it is too traditional, too feminine. I have to face it, I am not a pragmatic and cheerful person. Or, at least, I am a little but there is something more. I do have a soft spot for stories of passion and pain. This theme is almost in everything I write. I do love roses and everything that is feminine . I do treasure my culture and my native language. I am more Italian, more emotional, more feminine than I wanted to be, and that’s ok. I am Anna and I am Rose, but you can always call me Nina and that’s all.

* The word “rosa”, in Italian, could indicate both for the colour pink and the flower rose.

5 thoughts on “The rose in the name

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  1. It saddens me that school kids were so mean to you. I do know what this feels like because something similar happened to me. Many American schools have zero tolerance for students who bring guns to school… yet these same administrators don’t even try to stop kids from shooting off their mouths. Bullies’ words can be just as deadly as bullets… they kill the spirit / self-esteem of their victims.

    1. Children are great and children are mean. I wasn’t able to deal with annoying jokes at the time and so they got fixated on me. You know how it goes, it’s an old story. Then I moved in the city and things were a lot different and I thought: “ok, it wasn’t me, it was them!” But after years a couple of friends pestered me with jokes (quite innocently) while I was on the phone with my boyfriend and I wasn’t able to deal with it and I realized: “ok, it was me as well” 😀
      But yes, I grew up thinking I was disgusting and wrong. Feelings were hurt and psychological damaged was done. I think any of us gets some sort of shit in their lives and the bullies at school is part of my plate of shit. Sometimes I chose to bury it, sometimes I throw it back at my bullies in the most elegant way I can 😉

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