I’ve always accepted the three parts of my name: Thomas Zhiguang Lingard. Until recently though, I never truly recognized how true to my lineage my name really is.
Lingard. A name evolved from Old Scandinavian warriors, meaning bravery with a spear and a shield. A hard, sharp name humbly received by my father from his father’s father: a foreigner, a present-day warrior of the Great War.
The honor of the name constantly guilts me for the prosperous lifestyle I take advantage of. But I am who I choose to be.
Zhiguang. A name that connects me back to my mother’s motherland of Singapore. A soft, hopeful blessing bestowed on me in hopes that I would be bright, right-minded and have a capable future.
But at every family reunion, I am reminded that I will never truly fit into the Singaporean culture. I’m not “pure.” My only hope is that I can achieve what was expected of me at birth. But was that ever the plan?
Thomas. A name that serves as a reminder of where home is through its regularity — America, the world’s policeman and the home of the thieves. The final piece of my roots planted in my name, completing the grand backstory of an otherwise insignificant player in the enormous game of roulette that dictates this world. Should it matter who I was when I was born? Should I be upset that I had no choice in the matter? Should we all?
But in the end, none of this bothers me too much. See, I’ve vowed to never let my name be the sum of its parts, but rather always be the product of vision and execution. Roots and all, ultimately my name is just an identifier, and so I see no real reason to divide myself from it, or subtract anything that was, in the beginning, part of me. So if I display my culture, I do it my way. If I pave my own path, I do it my way. If you don’t even think this is a poem, at least I did it my way.
You know, I may never be what my ancestors planned for me.
But I’ll never let that be the full story.