|Painting by Artist Minaz Jantz (a woman)|
In 50 years, I have never learned the meaning of my name!
In our Ismaili Muslim culture, the tradition used to be that the father's sister (fui) names a child. We didn't follow the tradition. My mum named me. She heard the name somewhere and liked it. She also liked the name Karen as a middle name, but my grandfather vetoed that one! He's the one that went to the registry to get my birth certificate and where he presented my name officially for the first time. Apparently when I was born you didn't need to be named when you left the hospital.
Minaz isn't a unique name in our community but it is a unisex name in a very unique way! Everyone I know named Minaz older than me is a man and everyone named Minaz younger than me is a woman! (I have a younger cousin named Minaz after me). I have often had letters or emails calling me Mr. Minaz or Mr. Asani! And some people on the phone asking to speak with me will pause for a second when I tell them I'm Minaz. People also say to me all the time "Minaz? But isn't that a man's name?"
I did a quick Google search and it didn't provide any clarity either. One website said it's a Female Arabic name, another said it's a Male Albanian name.
There is a Persian name, Mahnaz which means 'Beautiful (naz) moon (mah)'. When I meet Iranian people and tell them my name, they automatically think it's Mahnaz and start speaking to me in Farsi. Beautiful moon is a lovely meaning and I'd like to adopt it, but I don't see myself as Mahnaz. I am Minaz and for 50 years that's what my name has been, just a name. I think if I found the meaning at this point, it would take away the mystery of not knowing!
What I've lacked in meaning, I have made up in the nicknames over the years; Mandaazi (a Swahili fried dough-my friend Steve translated it as 'Jelly Donut'), Minnie, Minuli, Minuri, Mitzi, Mina, Nazi (coconut), Crocuta (christened 'hyena' by my high school friends). And then there are the different ways people pronounce my name; Minez, Meeenaz, Minaaaaz. Each is unique and each is special and I love every one.
My mum asked me once if I wanted to change my name and I said I didn't because Minaz is my identity. It's who I've been, who I continue to be and who I will always be.
Thank you sharing Day 5 of 50 with me!