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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brand Me- My Name

Piecing together disjointed thoughts
A wise man said that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. When a child is born, parents go through great lengths to select the appropriate name for their child. All goes well for a girl until she gets married. She is supposed and expected to change her surname and adopt her husband's name or surname. While for men, the same does not hold true in the patriarchal society. Infact, come to think of it, men do not have too many hassles except for seemingly changing allegiance from one woman to another- the mother to the wife, shifting from one breast to another!
For women, a whole lot of decisions to make, emotions to consider, people to answer to- whether she should sport the various signs of marriage, what dress she should wear in the presence of whom, whether it is compulsary to use the bindi, flowers, bangles, and also the automatic assumption that the name must change.
I have nothing against the signs of marriage. Infact I myself display them proudly, solely because I like having them on me, not because I have to please my husband. If my mangalsutra does not go well with my attire, I don't wear it, and when I do wear it, it is displayed and not hidden behind my clothing. I don't do flowers but I do bangles- lots of them. It's all a matter of preference and liking rather than compulsion. I don't judge people who don't wear them and I don't bother to explain to anyone why I take the trouble to wear them.
I never did change my name officially. For all practical purpose, I still hold my maiden name. Call it asserting my feminity or importance by holding on to the surname of one man (father) rather than another (husband) - which is a contradiction of sorts- a woman (and a man too) still needs to back her name with a man's name no matter how modern she may be.
I did not change my name apart from practical reasons, because in South, there is no concept of family name/surname. You have to hold on to your father's name or husband's name resulting in a mixed bag of feminine and masculine name as your name unless the man's name is a generic sounding one- which was not to my taste at all. Moreover there was this practical problem of official documents, emails, etc. I hate confusion of any sort.
For all my blog related work, I attach my husband's name as (sheepish look on my face) it is numerologically lucky and it sounds cool to have a pen name (high hopes!).
I have had hilarious mistakes- we being called as Mr & Mrs (my surname) by doctors, travels and sundry others.
I have encountered annoying questions- why are you not changing your name- why the hell should I or rather why the hell should I answer you. I don't think in this day and age this topic discussed between a much older person and today's generation will lead to satisfactory answers for both.
I have been asked whether (my surname) is my husband. Why don't you ask me straight- what is your husband's name, rather than asking yes/no questions.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has attached his mother's name to his. A very sweet gesture. Probably I would have liked my daughter to contain my name in hers using a play of letters and words- wishful thinking! Not because I want to defy tradition, but because it is a nice feeling. Just like how any parent wants the child to look like him/her.
Hubby and I have had our discussions on my name stance- girls love adopting their husband's name- why not me. My argument is my love does not lessen or increase based on whether I take his name. I know he will love it if I adopt his name but I like the fact that he is liberal about his views on my preferences across the signs of marriage (name included).
Most of the time I live for today and I have a right to change my mind if tomorrow my idealogies and views change. Until then, it is status quo.

8 comments:

Compassion Unlimitted said...

Hi,a first timer here and thoroughly enjoyed the write up.//
For all my blog related work, I attach my husband's name as (sheepish look on my face)//
All that i could do was to roll on the floor and laugh
very nice piece.
Wish You A Happy New Year
TC
CU

Prashan said...

"Most of the time I live for today and I have a right to change my mind if tomorrow my idealogies and views change. Until then, it is status quo."

I really like your way of thinking Rithi anni

Big kisses to all of you especially to my kutty nephews

The Kid said...

"men do not have too many hassles except for seemingly changing allegiance from one woman to another- the mother to the wife, shifting from one breast to another!"

I hereby voice my protest.

Itchingtowrite said...

kid- keep protesting..things wont change . ha ha. atleast i made u de lurk
compassion-thanks welcome aboard. prashan- doing fine both your nephews....

lumi said...

I only changed mine because of immigration issues. Then I kept it after he left much to his irritation and plan on keeping it since all my university education, academic research, and professional work have been done under this name. Besides if a man is so worried about having the same name HE can change it to the woman's family name if he is so inclined!

Sue said...

Hey, I've blogged about this issue too, before. There have been times when people inadvertently addressed V as Mr. Roy and he didn't like it at all -- I remember turning to him and asking, now do you understand why I am not comfortable with taking on your name? He didn't have a problem with me staying a Roy, but he thought it was just a feminist stance. I think now he understands that it's the person I am. I'm a Roy. He and his son are Niyogys. I'm a Niyogy daughter-in-law, but I'm a Roy by birth.

It was only when he heard himself being called by a name that is not his that he realised how I feel when I hear it. After two years (nearly) now I don't mind anybody calling me Mrs. Soubhik Niyogy but I sign myself as Sunayana Roy.

The Inquisitive Akka said...

Haven't changed my name either. Actually the husband's name sounds smarter but my name, well my name is my name :) My father was so sweet, he actually told me one day that he was touched that I chose to retain his name.

chandni said...

I agree, and you know that!

But one question, which girl "loves" to change a name!! I am sure they do it because they're expected top/ have always believed that its the right thing to do, but if they really "had" a choice, do u think any would want to part with the names they've had all their life???

I like the "one breast to another" :D