My Namesake Crisis

A lot had changed since I last posted on my blog.

I changed countries, changed my status from single to married, changed jobs and I even changed my last name.

It’s a given however, that by being married into an Indian family, a woman’s last name is bound to change; although rules and families now are less restrictive compared to back then and women are moving to hyphenated names (maiden-married) and even keeping their maiden names for professional reasons.

But my name sake crisis has always been with my first name. Since the time I can remember, I have hated my first name. My first name Dipti had a beautiful meaning to it, it meant light but apart from that I found the name too common, too boring and more importantly not so feminine (I could’ve sworn a bald-headed man named Dipti once added me on face book). So luckily for me, I was born into few of those cultures in the North Indian family that believed in changing a woman’s first name after marriage. My mother had changed hers and my mother in law had changed hers too. It was something that most modern women would dread! “What change my first name as well as my last name? Are you kidding me?!” Imagine going from Peter Parker to Clark Kent (those sound like two separate superheroes (duh)!) However I considered this something to look forward too, I had started planning my new name years before I had even met my husband; I couldn’t settle on a good one though! Should it be something exotic and different or something which was easy to pronounce and had a great meaning? I would recall countless discussions on the dinner table when I would announce to my parents how I hated the name they had given me and couldn’t wait for the day I got married to change it into something else. I never once noticed my father’s forlorn look when I would carelessly make such statements; he always looked hurt. It was much later I found out that it was my father who had chosen and kept my name with much careful thought for the meaning it held (and also because one of his favorite actresses had the same name!) and because of that my name and I had always remained close to his heart. That reason unfortunately though was still not good enough for me to keep my first name. I was lacking the connection to my name and my father’s fondness to it was just not good enough.

When I did get engaged, I tortured my fiancé into calling me with a variety of new names and although not a big fan at first, he gave into my long-held desire and his family traditions and was content in eventually calling me by a different first name after our wedding.

While the wedding preparations were in full swing, I was spending hours trying to figure out a new first name to go with my new last name. I would spend days trying to register new names on Gmail and looking them up on Facebook (because lord knows if you don’t have a Gmail account and are not on Facebook then you most likely don’t even exist). I was looking for a unique full name and since my new last name was too common, it was getting harder and harder to find one. We eventually shortlisted a few names but I could tell my heart wasn’t set on any one of them.

When the day of my wedding finally approached, I prayed silently in my heart and asked the one person I thought who would know the answer to this question –

Myself.

In reality though, I prayed to God. I asked him – Drop me a sign & funnily he did. Except it wasn’t really a sign, it was an interpretation of whatever I would make of it. I could interpret it to – No don’t do it! Or yes go ahead. At that moment, for the first time in my life in 27 years I felt I knew the answer all along, for the first time I felt attached and a sense of protectiveness towards my name. My identity – the name given to me at birth by my parents (possibly the only choice related to me they ever had), the name called to me fondly by my friends, the name my husband fell in love with and the name that kept me climbing the professional ladder. There was a reason I couldn’t connect with any other name because for the first time in my life I felt I didn’t want to part with my name at the very least.

It was weeks after the wedding when I asked someone why does this tradition exist in the first place? I was then told that it was believed that when a woman left her house she would leave everything and everyone behind to enter into her new family. She would leave her belongings i.e bring new ones, she would leave her parents and her siblings behind to find a place in her new family, she would forget her old friends to make new ones and she would leave behind her name to start afresh to create a whole new life for herself now. When I heard the reasoning behind this tradition I secretly smiled in my head because I knew then that the interpretation I chose to make was because I was of the thinking that being married would mean bringing my identity along with me and not leaving it behind to become a new person, it would mean not forgetting old friends but creating a whole new social circle as well and it would mean not forgetting my family that gave me life but accepting a new family instead.

& so I broke a tradition that didn’t make any sense to me and instead kept my first name where it finally belonged – close to my heart.

A lot had changed since I last posted on my blog but my name sake crisis was finally resolved.

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2 thoughts on “My Namesake Crisis

  1. Funny – on the contrary I’ve always liked my name (except that in south india people call ‘Deepthi’ and I used to hate that!). and like u finally figured, name/surname are identities I’d never want to change or part with!
    nice post 🙂

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