Monday, January 19, 2009

Mr Roncon take a bow

I've never attached a lot of importance to my name. My identity of myself was always very distinct from it, maybe attached and coloured by it at times, but never truly defined by it.

My name today carries my maiden and Nino's Dad's surname. That's how Nino, who is currently in the phase where he refers to everyone in their 'full name', no doubt inspired by roll calls at school, calls me. Why? Perhaps because my father's name represented the culture I'd come to be familiar with while the husband's stood for a culture I was willing to accept. It's a odd thought coming from a person who has survived mix-breed parentage, because the fact that you grow up on the borders of two totally diverse cultures should be a life-long reminder that tags hurt, tags type-cast and tags build barriers.

My name now often attracts two distinct sets of attention: there are those, including the husband's sisters who 'appreciate' it and then there are those who seek to define it in terms that are usually enough to get any sane person's heart-rate high. Surprisingly, the husband and I have no take on it. Neither on the fact that I use my maiden-name passport or bank under two identities. There is so much more to me and my opinions than the name that you use to refer to me, that it honestly does not matter if I'm Acme, you know? As women, we tend to understand this more. The roles we play, sometimes define our existence and frame of mind so completely at times, that our multi-faceted personality is at peace with the one facet that is visible at that time.

I've seen fiercely independent and identity conscious friends simply change names after marriage and I've seen friends add in their maiden name years after having carried their husband's name. What sets them apart, is that either ways, it was a decision of choice, not a social/cultural/family diktat.

Which is why Sanjay Dutt's quote that 'girls who become part of a new family after marriage must assume their new surname and all the responsibilities that come with it', really ticked me off. This is what this man had to say about his sister, who still carries her maiden name, a fact, the actor says, 'maybe fashionable these days, but is dis-respectful to the person she married.'

Stopping short of calling Priya Dutt a fame hanger-on who uses her father's famous surname for her own benefits, Sanjay, who has recently entered the political fray, also manages to rubbish her identity - as someone's daughter, as a wife, a politician and a mother. It's alright that Sanjay uses his nomenclature heritage: his father's goodwill has managed to save him from conviction even.

What gives a son the right to use a particular name, while the same is denied to a daughter? This reformed junkie/gun-loving social deviant believes there's only one Mr and Mrs Dutt, and that's him and his latest wife Manyata, someone who carries as many dubious distinctions to her credit, as her latest husband. Not considering that she has changed names several times over to suit her divorce statuses and starry aspirations.

With his regressive views and criminal background, Sanjay seems the likely choice for Amar Singh and his party. And as for Priya's husband Owen Rancon, may his I-don't-give-a-damn-what-my-wife's-ration-card-says tribe increase.


Swati said...

Amen to that!

This was such a well written post. I started to write here, and then realized that I am almost making a post of it - so will do that instead, later. I agree, and disagree, but haven't changed my name :)

Manjushree Abhinav said...

I deleted my surname from my full name when I was eighteen by going to a court and filing an affidavit. Reason? My mother brought me up, and my grandfather (mother's father), refused his name, probably because he is too traditional and didn't want me to change names! So I thought, balls to a surname. And I was one -named till I got married, by which time all the hawaa of countless explanations had diminished.
Also, in the spiritual quest, the answer to the question, 'Who am I ', is not contained in a name.

nitya said...

Sanjay Dutt should spend more time focusing on repairing the irreparable damage he has caused to his family name and less time pontificating on what women should do!

Anonymous said...

One would think that one who has gone through such tough times would have become a more open-minded, a more liberal, and a more sensitive person. Really sad. The sister has been supportive, and this is how he behaves.

Good post!


Sujatha Bagal said...

NM, agree with your post. To add a little bit, I've come to believe that the names we (women) retain or take on are decisions of the heart and it's difficult to justify logically. Which of course is the problem in the first place - the fact that we need to justify our decisions to anyone at all.

For me, it was important to have one name for the entire family so there's a sense of oneness, a team spirit so to speak, especially when the kids come along. I've heard from women who retained their maiden names and found it jarring that their kids had a different name than theirs. My sense of who I was was not invested in my maiden name (for the longest time I only had an initial for a surname), so it was an easy decision for me.

Those of us who had to struggle with surname changes, merely, had it easy, in my opinion, when compared to those women whose first names would be changed, no questions asked, on the day of their weddings by their husbands. That is one cruel tradition, if you ask me.

There are a lot more angles (such as why kids automatically get their dad's names - to which I don't know the answer), but let me stop here!

Grasshopper, WTG and couldn't agree more with your last sentence.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why men rarely choose to take their wives names or to go double-barelled, though there are a few, or why kids must almost take the father's name.

That Sanjay Dutt interview made me want to scream and puke at the same time. His poor sisters, saddled with such a regressive brother.

wordjunkie said...

I agree, it was a disgusting remark. Wonder how his daughter will feel about hanging onto his name now.

Anonymous said...

that's a completely disgustingly sexist interview.
This line however took the cake:
"Just pray hard for me to become a father soon!"

Has he forgotten that he already has a daughter and therefore already is a father?

Anonymous said...

" Perhaps because my father's name represented the culture I'd come to be familiar with while the husband's stood for a culture I was willing to accept."


Nino's Mum said...

Swati - I can't wait to read the post!

Grasshopper - My sister hung on to her first husband's surname for years before she got married again and then changed her name. She said she couldn't revert back to her maiden, because, well, she wasn't that girl anymore. Surnames are also like remanants of people sometimes, so I understand what you said. And the last line is so true.

Nitya - well said.

Anjali - So true. A few years ago Sunil Dutt had said that his son had suffered 'much more than required' because of whose son he was. Maybe Sanjay thinks the suffering earned him the right to use his surname.

Sujatha - you're right, there are so many angles. My mum was 'asked' to change her first name as well - so she was called something else by her in-laws and something else by her husband and kids. For the longest time when I was a kid, I thought my father had two wives. no kidding. And I know about kids wondering on the different surnames. I'm starting to field those questions now.

Ra - When I was younger, my mum would make it a point to point out people who'd kept their mother's surnames. Nino got his dad's surname - it din't occur otherwise to me at that time acutally - but atleast we made sure he's not got a religion listed on his birth certificate.

Wordjunkie - Considering that she got to learn about his marriage to Manyata from the press and not from her father, she probably knows her dad's brain is wasted.

Broom - lol. Convinenant, no? And I'm being equally chauvinistic here, but I'm sure he probably means a son.

MinM - :)

Anonymous said...

If I may, I have this to add:

Anonymous said...

Sanjat Dutt is as usual brainwashed by his coterie. This is the guy who was drugged and unconscious when his mother died. Never cared about his wife on death bed or for his daughter. Cheated on his second wife and I don’t think he can ever repay what his two sisters have gone through to support him.

He has the audacity to now make this kind of stupid remark. First lessons of politics, make controversial statements to gain attention.

Gauri Gharpure said...

this post opens such a wanted discussion.. it should be her decision and hers alone. I ws stumped when I heard tht Sanjay Dutt had said such a thing. Glad people blurt out to let us know how limited their thinking really is. i chose to stick to my name for i couldn't (or that it prudent to) let go of 20 years of identity overnight to a new culture and a new name.

Anonymous said...

I meant almost always, but you got that! Yeah my mother too and now she wants me to take A's surname. I tell you! But that's coz she adores him, I think.

Nino's Mum said...

OJ - I'm still clapping. And I love the pic!

Solilo - well said about the publicity rule. maybe he's smarter than he looks.

GG - you should try ra's blog
Manyata's just gone on record to say she's a humanoid who follows her husband and not a humanbeing.

Ra - it's like how Suj said. with women it's so much a matter of the heart.

the mad momma said...

i'm linking this up to mine. great post as always.