Yes I Agree to Marry. No, I Don’t Want to Change My Identity
A person’s name is their identity and it is up to them what they wish to do with it. Married or not.
Seven months into our marriage, our relatives and friends still cannot get over our 5-day-long wedding. Neither can we. It was a multi-function, multi-cuisine, multi-exhausting inter-caste extravaganza, where the best of both worlds blended into one hugely successful event.
“Our marriage will be as beautiful as the wedding”, we vowed on our first night as husband and wife. Everything was ‘ever thine, ever mine, ever ours.’ But was it?
I knew I was going to move to his house, but I never packed for it. I was revolting by instinct. Why was it a ‘given’ that a woman must move to the man’s house?
I had slyly dodged the ‘vidai’, the ceremony where the daughter throws back some rice puffs into her parents’ “jholi”, symbolically returning all she has taken from them. This made no sense to me. Why must I pretend when I knew that I was not leaving my parents EVER!
Why Must I Become Someone Else?
“I love your name”, my husband used to say when we were dating. “It’s balanced.” I never understood why he said that. But with his appreciation, I began to like my name a wee bit more (though it would still confuse the daylights out of the Starbucks guys).
It was time to register my marriage and (little did I know) to surrender my surname, my identity and adopt someone else’s. “But this ‘somebody else’ is your HUSBAND”, I was told with assertion. “Now that you are married, it is your duty to take forward your new family’s name, and not the one you’ve left behind”, chimed another aunty.
I had never paid attention to the importance of my name, until now. My last name represented generations behind me. My name made me who I was, and will be.
My need to hold on to my identity had nothing to do with my love and respect for my husband and his family. Changing my last name to theirs would not have made even an iota of difference to the way I felt about them, but I wouldn’t be “me” anymore.
Be the Change You Want to See
My husband still loved my name, he stood by me, but I felt betrayed. Not by the love, but by the institution.
Before I knew it, my identity had become my battle. My battle against the patriarchal ego.
“This is how life is. Women have to do such things. What to do?”, said a very significant woman in my life, trying to convince me.
This was it.
It was the morning of the registration. The family assembled outside the courtroom. An awkward silence. My husband and I were slowly waking up to reality. The magistrate called out our names – just as they were. We stepped into his office holding hands.
“Would you like to change your last name to that of your husband?” I was asked.
“No sir, I would like to add his last name to my own,” I said.
I extended my name, just like I extended my family.
“We’ll have each others back, till death shall do us part”, my husband whispered in my ear, as we legalised our marriage.
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