To Change or Not to Change #SurnameChange
A senior colleague to me: My younger son is getting married on Saturday next. Please do come and bring Mr Nandy along.
Me: Er.. My husband’s surname is Basu.
Him: Ok. Here, let me give you the wedding card.
And he wrote Mr and Mrs Basu on the envelope!
I have encountered many such incidents when I have tried to inform people that I have not changed my maiden surname after my marriage. Some understood while others raised eyebrows or questioned my reasons. The responses have been varied:
“I think you would have changed your surname if you loved your husband!”
“You may have a problem when you have kids; will you like it if they have a different surname than yours?”
“You mean you haven’t changed in the documents but you are socially Mrs Basu, right?”
“You will have difficulty travelling abroad if you have different names on passport.”
“You will have trouble inheriting if something happens to him.”
“Your gothra has changed, so even if you carry your maiden surname it means nothing.”
Either I kept quiet and smiled or gave counter arguments, depending on the nature of the allegation and the person making it. I explained that I wanted to keep my identity stable amidst the numerous changes I was dealing with, which ranged from a new family, a new city, a new workplace and a new sense of responsibility.
And I also informed that I was open to the idea of changing, as and when I feel the need.
It is all about choice – to change or not to change. Women’s liberation means allowing the women to choose for themselves, not impose upon them various rules just because the society had been following them since eternity. If a woman wants to take her husband’s surname or add it to her maiden one, by all means go ahead without caring two hoots for the so-called feminist’s finger-wagging.
If modernity has seen women to go outside home, work, earn, raise children alone, live as single, travel solo, own property, take care of their parent single-handedly, have pre-marital sex, vote, wear clothes according to their style, it has also given women the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, work from home, take care of ageing in-laws, wear a burqa, cook for the family, wait for her husband to return home, devote herself to her children and do all that she wants to.
No party should raise eyebrows at the other.
I do not want to be judged by anybody whether I am a good wife or mother just because I have a different surname. I do not want to be bracketed as a Mrs beside a Mr. I am my own identity and my name is a huge part of it since my birth. If my husband understood it, so should the rest of the world.
I have my marriage certificate to prove my status during travelling abroad or inheriting; surname is a flimsy way to claim wifehood.
At a time when men have begun to add their wive’s surnames to their own, the question whether a woman should or should not change her surname has become passe. Embrace the power of choice and mould your life according to your wish and not anyone else’s.