Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

It’s all in a name

Rida Khan
New York, United States

Photo by author

I struggle with the letters that make up my name
It hesitates and falls flat on their tongues
And although I’ve searched for reason, there is an inexplicable shame
That I’ve unwillingly carried since I was young 

Until one day, in a hospital bed ten paces from the nurse’s station
A tired man of tired ninety-three
Held my hand with a certain desperation
And told me my name meant God’s favor shone on me    

His favor never did seem to shine on him, at least not in Yemen back then  
And although endless tempest and ache was all he had ever known
My Arabic name still reminded him of home again
So he told me to wear it with pride, for his sake and my own 

For if you can respect only one thing of a man, let it be his name 
For his name is the map of the places he’s going and the places from which he came

RIDA KHAN is a medical student at New York Medical College. She attended Fordham University in New York for her undergraduate education, where she studied Biological Sciences and English.  

Summer 2023



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