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A rather disproportionate intervention
Ijoma Mangold
translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp
19 June 2021
published in Issue Zero – Opuscule

Whenever the boy answers the phone, he always gives his full name. Some people who call to speak to his mother find this amusing and mimic him, as though the boy’s naively narcissistic way of answering the phone merited an affectionate echo. When he pronounces his full name, it comes to nine syllables. The sounds and the rhythm pulse like a wave. But that’s not the reason why he answers with such a tongue twister; no, this is his attempt to mitigate his fate. His middle name is his hope of tempering the exoticism of his first name: Ijoma Alexander Mangold.

When you look at it like this, it’s actually 2-1 to Germany. But only when he manages to remind the person he’s talking to of the existence of his middle name.

For all his attempts, it doesn’t really work. Although his middle name appears on official documents like sports certificates, it isn’t really given the same weight as his first name. The grown-ups clearly can’t be dissuaded from the assumption that Ijoma is the name that best describes the boy, even though they always trip up when they say it. The way people stumble over his name is a source of grave embarrassment for the boy. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. They even seem to derive a certain enjoyment when they praise its uncommon beauty; the logical conclusion is that he should count himself lucky he wasn’t a run-of-the-mill Matthias, Andreas or Oliver.

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