My grandmother’s name நகோமி may be transliterated as Nahomi or Nagomi. It is of course the Tamil for the Hebrew name Naomi in the Bible.

As I was born more than a decade after my parents were married, and just after the death of said grandmother, who had apparently agonised that my parents had no children, I was given her name, the way she spelled it.

I have always had to explain the name to people. Most people know the name Naomi, and so I tell people that it is the same name with an ‘H’ in it. “It is pronounced naHOmi,” I always say, stressing the HO.

After a lifetime of this, today I came across this document among my father’s things. It is a testimonial for my grandmother in the year of her wedding 1907. And it refers to her as Naomi. Oh dear!

It reads thus:

Certificate for P. Naomi Marah Ammal
This is to certify that Naomi Marah Ammal, only daughter of A. Packianada Pillai, Headmaster, Porayar Lower Secondary boys’school was born on 18-4-89 and confirmed 27-5-04. She passed her Lower Secondary Examination from our(?) Poraiyar girls’ school and trained school mistress. She holds a Trained Teachers’ Certificate. She is a pious girl of good disposition and well trained in household business. I wish her all God’s blessings for this life and the life to come.

TM(?) Jacob, Pastor Bethleham Church, Porayar  October 1907

Two things by way of comment:  I think a beautiful handwriting covers a multitude of language issues. Secondly, I looked up Bethlehem Church in Porayar and this is what I found: “In Porayar, today sits another important Church established by the Danes – the Bethlehem Church – the second Protestant Church in India, established in 1746.”