Saturday, 14 March 2015

A Name for Keeps

Image courtesy: Google
A name is a word by which things, people, places and animals are known. It helps us to identify them from a group with ease. Well, when it comes to names of people, it is a little more complicated, given the socio-cultural set up we live in. So it is common to find people with two names, a given name and a surname. The surname could be the name of a parent (mostly the father), family or even caste. So a name can reveal quite a lot about a person!

I wouldn't say that one’s identity is tied to a name but I do believe that a name, over the years becomes a part (however small) of one’s identity. We grow up being known by a particular name. Some people choose to keep them; some change them of their own accord or under pressure. Ultimately it is just a matter of choice. However, it is more common among women than men to change their surname after marriage. Some of the reasons given by people who prefer to change their names post marriage are:

1. Everyone in the family will have the same surname, creating a sense of belonging and it is easier to identify members of a family.
2. It avoids hassles especially while travelling abroad, inheriting property etc.
3. It helps the new daughter in law adjust easily and accept the new family as hers.

I’m accepting of the fact that everyone has a right to choose what they want for themselves. But I would definitely want to keep my original name. It is a name I have grown to like over two decades and a half. Everyone knows me by this name. I have been Vidya Subramanian for my friends, teachers, family, employers, colleagues, students and many others. Even my husband and his family got introduced to me and even liked me while I sported this name. My certificates of birth, my achievements in academics, sports and art have been inked with my maiden name. Why would I want to change that? Is there any pressing reason? Not that I know of.

About blending into the new family, I have accepted my husband’s family even without a surname change. I am as much a daughter as I am a daughter-in-law. And a xerox copy of our marriage certificate is enough to convince authorities that we are married (whenever there is a need), so there is nothing to spoil our plans of going abroad. So what if surnames differ within a family? It doesn't make a person a stranger at all. My mom has kept her name since birth, but we still are a loving family. Isn't it strange that the same is not expected of men? Don’t they too have to accept the girl’s parents?

And having said that, why should anyone change a part of themselves for any relationship? Two individuals willingly sharing their lives, love and family without compromising on their identities - that’s marriage for me. It is bad enough that my name is tagged with my father’s, when I would have preferred just “Vidya”. I’m too lazy to take the arduous journey to Indian government offices to add, subtract, replace and modify my name. So I let it be. Vidya Subramanian it is, from birth to death and even after!!

P.S: I understand that people have their own reasons for keeping/changing/modifying their names. To each one his own! I'm thankful that my husband finds the idea of my name change equally absurd.


12 comments:

  1. My mother in law is 65 years old, married for 43 years and she has always carried her father's surname. So my in laws were open on this and did mot ask me to change my surname. I have never faced any problem travelling abroad which I have done twice after my marriage. The marriage certificate suffices for all things. And as you said one does not need to own a new surname to become a part of a new family. So a change of name is not necessary in these times.

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    1. Yes, I agree with you :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. I share your views! Way to go! :)

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  3. I've often thought my first name rather elaborate and wish I could have a simple name. But, as you say, we live with our name so long, it becomes the one we identify as ourself.

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    1. Yes true that, I wonder if I will ever respond to any other name :)

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  4. Love the marriage and it's definition and the simplicity that lies in all. Isn't it what it is about? True Vidya :)

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    1. ohk! Read it as.. love the marriage definition and the simplicity it has, which you've written :) (that first "and" in the upper line sure is trying to change the meaning I see :D )

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  5. I second your thought Vidya...:) Nice post :)

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