What’s in a Name?
One afternoon I asked a woman at a barbershop
if she had time for a walk-in.
She nodded and said, “I am more than a barber.
I’ve been styling hair for 35 years.”
Old bottles of hair tonic lined one shelf.
A child’s marionette sat on another.
A letter and a photo taped to a can
asked for donations for Afghan families.
The photo was of a man and a woman.
An emaciated child lay between them.
Their eyes were like burnt stars.
Scissor blades hovered above me.
I felt as if I was falling. I clung
to the Bible verse about God knowing
the number of hairs on our heads
and about every sparrow that falls
to the ground.
Looking at our reflections in the mirror, I said,
“It’s very sad what’s happening in Afghanistan.”
“Very sad,” she replied.
I paid her more than she charged
and promised to return.
She smiled and gave me her card.
I asked the meaning of her name.
She answered, “It means happy.”
Her eyes glowed like tourmaline gems.
Later, I discovered that in Pashto
her name means sadness or grief.
Written by Patrician Cannon RN
Patricia Cannon has been a Registered Nurse at UCSF since 2001. She has worked in cardiac critical care, neuro intensive care, hemeoncology, school nursing, and currently, in research. Her passion is her faith, photography, and the written word in all its forms. “What’s in a Name?” was previously published in the Beyond Words Literary Journal edited by Gal Slonim.