I was offered my name at the age of eleven and seized it eagerly. It was immediately attractive. I took it to me and knew it was mine.
It all happened when I changed school. There were already three people in my new class who had my name. They did not want a fourth. Someone, lost in the mist of time, suggested Opher. It called me. I embraced it. It was me.
I’d always disliked my name. Chris was boring, ordinary and pedestrian, not only that but it could be a girl’s name. We had a girl in my class – Christine – who was called Chris. There was nothing good for a little boy about having a girl’s name. I had always wanted a name that was unique, a name all of my own.
It was not met with equanimity. My parents despised it. When my friends called me Oph they were dismayed. It sounded as if I was being called an oaf.
It became a badge. Those people that were friends, that I could open up to and be myself, called my Opher. Those who were colleagues, relatives and associates knew me as Chris. There were clashes as different people came together. It caused bewilderment.
When I was at work I was Chris. It was too difficult to explain to bemused individuals. When I was at home I was Opher.
As Chris I was in role, a professional. As Opher I was myself, relaxed and complete. Opher was my alter ego. It was when I could fully communicate.
Nowadays, as a ‘maturing’ individual, it is sometimes awkward to be introduced as Opher. It requires explanation and sometimes produces mirth.
But Opher is who I am. It is a name that is liberating. I am Opher.