ICP #165 | On my namesake

Sitting behind me is a playwright. She knows my friend and my friend introduces us but actually we’ve met already.

I say, Yes, do you remember me? Keziah. You told me off for not reading Katherine Mansfield.

She says, Oh yes. Then, Not ‘told off’.

But it felt like a telling off at the time. Both times, in fact.

Kezia appears in three Katherine Mansfield short stories: At the Bay, Prelude and The Doll’s House. My mum was reading one of them (At the Bay, maybe) when she was pregnant with me.

No ‘h’ in the namesake. Someone told my mum (her yoga teacher, maybe) that an ‘h’ was a good addition to a name. That an ‘h’ was for spirit.

I only discovered that the character was a cipher for Mansfield herself when I visited her birthplace in Wellington. It was my first time in the city and my flight got in a few hours before my friend’s, so I went there to kill time.

I read about Kezia on a wall panel. There were no other visitors – no witnesses to this new piece of my jigsaw falling into place.

I have read the stories at some point, but not deeply enough to hold up to questioning. It feels easier to say no than to say yes, but…

So both times the playwright has asked me, I have been found wanting.

Now she says, You’re Keziah with an ‘h’ though. There’s no ‘h’ in Katherine Mansfield.

Another affront.

I say, No. But I am still named after that character.

I don’t mention the yoga thing. I get the sense it wouldn’t help.

Well, she says, have you read The Doll’s House yet or not?



A version of this post was sent by email on the 9th February 2020 as part of Internet Care Package – a weekly memoir project in the form of a newsletter. It also includes links to the best things I’ve found on the internet each week and occasional updates on my theatremaking. This blog is a select archive of those emails. Subscribe to get them right in your inbox.

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