Culture NYU Stories

“Is Your Name Ruky…Racky…Ricky?” “Who?”

“Ruky? Ruky? Is there a Ruky in this class?”


Who is this Ruky person, I thought to myself. How can he or she even be absent on the first day of class? My eyes surveyed the room, trying to detect the owner of this weird name. Realization hit me as the other students appeared as bewildered as I did.

“Oh! Is the last name Wang? That’s me.” I said, embarrassed. This was the two hundred and twenty seventh time that something like this happened. Hurray, I just set another record.

Heat flooded my cheeks as a dozen pairs of eyes looked in my direction, and I wasn’t even the type to blush. Lowering my head, I tried to avoid the uncomfortable glances, hoping I could disappear into oblivion. It didn’t happen.

As soon as the classes ended, several classmates raced to my side and immediately started to interrogate.

“What is your name again?”

“Can you pronounce your name for me?”

“Is it Ricky or Racky?” …

I had expected this, since it wasn’t the first time. “Just call me Rachel.” I huffed, trying to keep the annoyance off my face.

“But I want to know your real…”

“RACHEL IS MY NAME!” I only wanted to be left alone at this moment. “My parents gave me this name, and I prefer to be addressed as Rachel.”

“But why can’t you just tell me?’

Why? Good question.

My name, Ruiqi, is similarly pronounced as “Ray-Chee”, but not quite. It involves a sound that doesn’t exist in English. However, according to English language rules, it is said in a completely different way, in fact, too different for me to recognize it. More than often, people would try to address me by Ruiqi, hoping to show intimacy, only to fail when I didn’t respond. Sometimes, my name would even become a joke, as people played around with the various pronunciations that they could come up with. I love my name Ruiqi, when it’s pronounced correctly. I also love my name Rachel, since it’s the equivalent to Ruiqi in my perspective. From past experiences, I had learned that trying to teach others the pronunciation of Ruiqi usually didn’t work, no matter how hard I tried or how many times I reiterated it. So why not just make everyone’s life simple and call me Rachel?

“Hey Rackel, wait up!” Someone called me from behind.

For the two hundred and twenty eighth time, and counting…

Featured image artwork by Zoya To (Generasian artist)

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