Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What is in a name?


Ok, so I am officially Bhattacharya, i.e. my photo id has my husband's family name finally! It did not change much of my life, though! This whole process lead me to ponder about something.

What is such a fuss about this change of name? I mean no offence to anyone.

I have seen girls, or wives, making a ruckus out of this whole situation. Common comment: "I will lose my identity..." blah blah crap. How can one lose their identity with one small change in the name, I am yet to understand?

Well, boys, or husbands, are no less in adding to the clammer. Common comment: "Its our family name....." A male chauvinist statement: "After marriage, wife has to take husband's name!!" Any female would go berserk over such a statement and react: "What great things have you done that I should showcase your name for the rest of my life!!!"

This is an eternal debate. Oh sorry! not a debate, its an eternal fight! Debates have some conclusions, you know! Fights never have any solutions, they just act as fuel to another fight!!

In my childhood, I never understood what this identity is, but heard such talks and thought, "Oh so name is identity!" I defined identity as my name! Can you beat that?

I do not know, should I thank God or my parents' logical genes or my parents upbringing or all together, that as I grew up saw the life in a larger perspective and beyond name. Remember Matrix - "Look beyond the spoon!" and lo! the spoon bends. Thats exactly what happened with me. I changed my opinion about name when I started analysing as to why do we need a name.

So why do we need a name? Imagine there are three persons standing at a distance and you want to divert the attention of one of them towards you. Either you start jumping by waving your hands over your head and shout: "Hey you, hey you!" or use identifiers as "HEy you boy in black shirt!" You would have won everyone's attention, though that was not your aim. So, here name comes handy and saves you some embarassment if not all! Well, numbers would be too difficult to manage and then the problem of distinct number for each individual sorts, like our SSN or PAN number. Imagine the amount of secondary storage required to save all those numbers! As of now, world population is around 7 billion. hmmm.......Too cumbersome to manage and remember too! So, lets just stick to name for now.

And I would myself not like someone calling me as "Hey you girl!" Name is a better identifier.
Ok I grant little understanding to even the last name or surname for the sake of distinction. But after this, I suffer a mental block. Name after marriage, name before marriage! How does it matter what is the last name as long as the first name is same?

I mean imagine a person is called Jai XYZ and the last name changes to Jai ABC. You dont call someone as "Hey Jai XYZ are you fine?" And two days later, after marriage, "HEy Jai ABC are you fine today?"

I can understand the row over the change of first name considering that a person is used to a particular name since childhood. If that is changed involuntarily then there is a problem. Imagine a person being called Jai for 28 years and after marriage name changed to Veera! That is a little tough situation to handle. Family is calling "Veera(that is Jai earlier)! come here", and s/he is sitting and sweetly reading a novel! Obviously s/he not used to Veera!!! That must be some funny scene.

But, then our society has so many things that have been ingrained for centuries together, that these have become a second nature to us. Rules and laws of the land are formulated around these default things. These innate beliefs just drilled into our genes and passed on from generation to generation has just created more chaos than clarity of purpose of anything, in our case, the NAME.

Well, as for me, I am still Jaishrie. Last name needed as a proof in banks, travel tickets, etc that I am married to my husband!! Just so you know, I had to get my name changed due to an incident at an airport. Never mind that! Thank God, am clear in my head that my identity is what I do which gets attached to my name. And not the other way round!!! Anyone who begs to differ, would be glad to be enlightened!!