Written by: Sophie
Hello! My name is Roxanna. I’m really proud of my name, as I think it’s beautiful. The only difficulty I have is when I tell someone my name they look at me strangely and will often say, “Excuse me? Sorry? Huh?”
This is not because they are deaf, or because we are on a really busy road that makes it difficult for them to hear me. It’s because I have a speech impediment which makes it difficult for people to understand what I’m saying. I have also had cerebral palsy since childhood, which has effected my speech, making it difficult to form the shapes to say letters.
“My name is Rwukthaana,” I say, but what I mean is Roxanna.
Join me on my daily journey and see how I face society. But don’t judge me, please! You might cry or laugh, but most of all, I want you to see life though my eyes.
The handsome visitor
Now everyone, just because I have cerebral palsy and a speech impediment does not mean I’m boring. I can have a laugh, visit shops nearly every day, and wear the latest trends.
I haven’t told what my job is yet, have I? Well, I’m an editor of a fashion magazine for men. Ha! Bet you didn’t think I was that clever, did you?
Today, we are supposed to interviewing a man from a wedding catering company about his business. At least, that was the plan. We were expecting him, but instead his aunty turns up with his younger brother. So, as usual, I arrange for them to be seated in the VIP area. My intern comes rushing in with her face all red.
“What’s wrong with you?” I ask.
“It’s the guest from Happy Rainbow Wedding Service,” she laughs.
Yes, go on, you may laugh too! Happy Rainbow Wedding Service sounds like a business run by a Desi Dorothy from the wizard of Oz.
Hey, I almost forgot: Meet my intern, Jass. She is studying economics and politics at university, but loves working with me part-time. I think it’s because of all the gossip and glamour she sees in the industry. She can talk quite a bit, but she works really hard. I sometimes think she wants to be doing my job.
“Roxanna, have you seen the people outside you are supposed to be interviewing? The lady is such a Desi aunty fashionista. Her sunglasses remind me of tea cup saucers. And the man with her, he’s so–”
“Stop, Jass. It’s not nice to comment about our clients. Go and get some drinks for them and then join us.”
She looks at me in disappointment, but I have to keep some professional boundaries.
I take my laptop and Dictaphone into the VIP room. The Desi-looking aunty turns away from the window towards me as I step in, and I realise why Jass was laughing. Those sunglasses really are like saucers, I think, stifling a smile.
“Hello, I’m Roxanna,” I begin.
“Huh,” she mutters.
“Roxanna,” I try again. Oh God, I think, how many times do I have to go through this process? I need to write my name on my forehead or get a personalised hijab made that says ‘My name is Roxanna’ all over it. Can’t get more obvious than that!
“Sorry, this is my Aunty,” a man on a cell phone walks into the room.
“I’ll call you back,” he says, then hangs up.
You know that moment when you don’t know if you should smile or stay serious? I’m thinking, Helllllooooo, please say you are not married, because I’m certainly not. Maybe we don’t have to do this interview and I’ll just give you the best feature and your family will be so happy. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to meet them, and the rest, you know. . .
“Roxanna?” he breaks into my ridiculous thoughts. “That’s you, isn’t it, sister?”
No! I don’t need a printed hijab that says ‘My name is Roxanna.’ I need one that says ‘My name is sister.’
“Yes, brother, please take a seat. You too, aunty.”
The rest of the afternoon evolves around the interview about the Happy Rainbow Wedding Service, and it’s a long one, especially with the aunty making so many amendments.
As they finally leave, Jass asks my opinion.
“So how did it go?”
“It was ok, but tiring.”
“He looked like marriage material, didn’t he?” Jass grins knowingly.
“Yes, he did, for whomever he will marry. He just called me sister all day!”
We both end up laughing. This is something I come across all the time, so I’m used to it. I enjoy laughing only with Jass and a few others close to me due to my special needs.
Jass leaves for the day, and I pay a visit to the ladies’ room to fix my hijab. I remove it and brush my long brown hair as I remember the client’s comment. “Roxanna, that’s you, isn’t it, sister?” I smile at how flustered I became when I saw him.
I pause and look at my smile, and remember it’s a good thing I didn’t smile too much in front of him, because my smile is slightly crooked. A tear rolls down my cheek. That’s right, I will always remain a sister. Who will want to marry me? I gaze at myself in the mirror, crooked smile and all.