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Sunday, December 05, 2021

The Namesake

What's in a name? Nothing. But there seems to be a lot in a surname.

Written by Garima Mishra |
February 2, 2009 12:27:58 am

While the dilemma of taking up the husband’s surname haunts many a woman’s life,we spoke to a few who decided to retain their maiden surnames

What’s in a name? Nothing. But there seems to be a lot in a surname. Atleast that’s what is evident,looking at the debate that followed after the comment made by actor Sanjay Dutt –”Women should not stick to their father’s surname after marriage just for the sake of fashion. It will be a disrespect for their husbands if they do so.” Whether or not the comment deserved the attention it gained,it has become ‘the topic’ of discussion. Some feel it’s a matter of choice and should not be given so much importance. While others feel that as per tradition,women should go with their husband’s surnames. We speak to some Pune women who have preferred to retain their maiden surname after marriage.

For someone who had been a part of various women liberation movements,it is quite natural to take such a step. 49-year-old,Sujata Deshmukh,is not in the favour of using the father’s surname also. She feels that the moment any surname is added with your name,people start judging you with your caste and religion,which is ridiculous. According to her a mother and a father are equally responsible for upbringing of the child. And even the mother should be honoured by adding her name with the name of her child. She says,”Had it been in my hand,I would have added both my parent’s first names and called myself Sujata Charushila Laxmikant. But by the time I realised this,it was too late. But to correct my mistake,I have named my daughter Irawati Sujata Anand,Anand being my husband’s first name. Although all these years I faced problems,especially during passport and my delivery,but my husband gave me a strong support and never ever did I get a feeling that I should have followed the usual practice of adding husband’s surname.”

For 34-year-old,Mrunal Deshpande,a lecturer in D Y Patil College,a woman loses her identity if she changes her surname. She says,”Your name gives you an identity and one should not change it,just because you are married. My husband was very comfortable with my decision and change of surname was never an issue between us. I think it’s an individual decision and none except the woman should have the right to decide this. People know me as Mrunal Deshpande and I would like to keep it that way only.”

Seven years ago,when Manju Joshi got married to Mithun Chandran,she was quite clear that she won’t be changing her surname. But it was a practical decision taken on her part as she didn’t want to go through the long legal procedures that are involved in changing the surname. Working as a project manager in a software company,she also feels that it’s not a big deal whether or not you change your surname. “You create your identity with your first name and not your surname. It doesn’t matter what surname you are tied with,” says she.

In contrast to Joshi’s opinion,34-year-old Tanuja Kar,a software professional,feels that there are also a few advantages of changing your surname. Despite knowing that she will face problems in the future,she did not change here surname. So,every time some kind of documentation was required — like ration card,passport or admission for kids — she had to justify the difference in her husband’s surname and hers,with their marriage certificate. “I didn’t feel the need to change the surname and fortunately no one objected to my decision also,” says she.

Married for around five years,for 30-year-old Chetna Gaikwad,a maiden surname is a bond with which every woman is emotionally attached. A software engineer with TCS,she says,”My husband was very understanding and never asked me to change my surname. Maybe if he would have insisted,I would have changed it for his happiness. But somewhere,the feeling of losing my identity would have crept in. Also,In India,the legal formalities for changing your surname are so long that I thought it was better not to go through the pain.”

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