His padawan has surpassed him

Star Wars fan Suhaimi Subandie loved the movie series so much, he named two of his children after the twin protagonists, Luke and Leia Skywalker.

The 51-year-old guitarist of veteran local rock band Stompin' Ground is father to 17-year-old fraternal twins Luke Sulaiman and Nurul Leia.

So does that make him the Darth Vader of the family?

After all, he even has an "I Am Your Father" T-shirt.

"After many years of shouting in Stompin' Ground, my voice has become hoarse like Darth Vader's, too," he joked in a phone interview with The New Paper, referring to the Star Wars villain's signature raspy vocals.

Although Mr Suhaimi, a toy collector, agrees it has become more common for Singaporeans to name their children after Star Wars characters, he has not encountered any other fraternal twins here named Luke and Leia.

"Back in 1998, names like these were practically unheard of in the Malay community.

"I'd like to think I started the ball rolling for Malay families to name their kids after pop culture characters," he said.

Mr Suhaimi said he gave his children those names only because they happened to be fraternal twins.

His two elder daughters have more traditional Malay names: Nurul Khaalisah and Nurul Ashikin. They are 23 and 21 years old respectively.

BOND

He said: "All my children love Star Wars, but I feel a special bond with my twins. Not just because of their names, but also because they help me with my toy sales."

Mr Suhaimi used to own a toy shop and he now sells his leftover stock, including Star Wars merchandise, at garage sales and flea markets.

He added proudly that Luke's Star Wars knowledge surpasses even his own.

"I passed him all my Star Wars comics, but he has continued reading about the expanded universe beyond the original movies. At my age, I can't store all that knowledge any more - my memory bank is full," he joked.

Luke, a student at Nan Chiau High School, and Leia, who attends Republic Polytechnic, told TNP they love their unique names.

Said Luke: "There are thousands of other Muslims named Muhammad, but I think my parents were smart to identify me by a name that is usually for Westerners.

"When people first heard my name, they thought it was weird for a Muslim, but they learned to accept it and realise it was cool."

Leia added: "The bond between my father, brother and myself really strengthened when we watched Star Wars together and played with his wide variety of toys. That bond continues even now."

Nurul Khaalisah, a former New Paper New Face finalist-turned-Guess model, thinks it's "insanely cool" that her siblings are named after the Skywalker twins.

"We all understand 'Star Wars talk'.We even communicate with each other using Star Wars languages and use the Tusken Raider wail as a cheer when we hear good news."


This article was first published on December 14, 2015.
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