Having two names was never an easy thing for me, even though I don’t think it’s that complicated or weird. Plus it’s a very normal and common thing in Tunisia.
I actually see it as one name: “Mohamed Marwen” as a whole entity. Although I did amuse myself sometimes by thinking that “Mohamed” is the good side of me, while “Marwen” is the dark one.
Anyway, it seems that some people just need to have one name or else they get a system failure error somewhere in their mental address book.
So, as a child growing up in Zimbabwe, all my friends called me Mohamed because they thought it was my first name and Marwen was my second one. Plus I guess they found it easier to say than Marwen in english.
Then when we moved back to Tunisia, everyone called me Marwen. This is due mainly to the popularity of Mohamed as a name, so if there is any another option that’s the one they’ll go for. Still, some in the family called me Mohamed for no particular reason.
And then I went to Jordan, and that’s where the real problems started. When I’d meet new people, I’d start to tell them my name was “Mohamed Marwen”, but then to avoid the whole story of me having two names and why, which isn’t as common there, I’d just say “Mohamed”.
But, the problem is that some other people were introduced to me through some Tunisian friends of mine. These people would come to know me as “Marwen”.
So as if it wasn’t enough that some people felt I had so many personalities mixed up in me, I was also known to people by two different names, and they thought that I was two different people.
I remember once in university, two people were talking and one of them was telling the other about this Tunisian guy they know who’s called “Marwen”, and the other said they also knew a Tunisian guy whose name was “Mohamed”, and they were both talking about how they should meet these two interesting Tunisian guys.
As they talked, they found so many similarities between these supposedly two different people, and they started feeling a bit weird. By coincidence, I was passing by, and both of them saw me and were like “There’s the guy I’m talking about” at the same time, and then they sure felt a lot weirder.
Other times, I’d be with someone who knows me by a certain name, when someone else comes up and uses the other one, only leaving the first person feeling lost, confused, tricked even.
Each time I’d have to go through the process of explaining how I have this compound name, that I didn’t know why the hell I did, and that they could call me whatever they wanted to. I had to have my receivers ready to be called by any combination of the two names anyway.
Now, there’s a new trend some people I know are starting, they’re calling me by my last name “Meddah”. That’s neat. As if I needed more names in the first place.
Oh and let’s not forget the people who choose to call me “Subzero” or “Subzero Blue”.
It seems the nightmare will never end…