Candid, not Candied

Thursday, 15 July 2010

What's in a surname?

Rayshma's this post triggered in me a thought that was reeling at the back of my mind. It seems an obvious step to adopt and change to an altogether new name, surname and hence a new identity after marriage. It's been there since ages, I guess... and pretty much accepted as a norm.

At some point of time during my childhood, V often teased me as "paraya dhan" and made me feel bad. I sensed that, in a few years, I won't be belonging here anymore. So much for a child's thought. Though as I grew up, I have come to believe that I will always belong to my parents no matter what. I'll still be their daughter, still be hankering for their acceptance, their blessings and even their criticism. Marriage does not change my relationship with them - if yes, it is always for the better.

I did not put much thought into whether or not I should retain my surname that I was born with. The main reason was, I liked the double surname concept. For me, double surnames sound sexy and hence I go by the "Prabhu-Kamath" title. Now, coming to think of it, I feel it is more than justified to have my name as above. It honours my dad; it honours my husband. It's the best of both worlds. It is where I belonged earlier (and even now) and it is where I shall build a bond. From a daughter to a daughter-in-law- it brings together two families for me. This is where I identify and discover myself as a person.

It is said that fathers "give" their daughters to the one they think is capable of making a lifelong commitment to her. They certainly do not wash their hands off at the moment they do... rather there is a seed sown of a new relationship between the parents and the daughter that is cherished and nurtured lifelong by both.

I admit, I had feminist ideas earlier. I didn't wanna adopt a different surname, I thought our family was the only greatest one surviving around here. Today, all that's behind me. I don't mind a new surname. Though, I'm yet to accept that I have a changed first name. Rather than accept, I'd call it - get used to it. Coming to the reality, there is a lot of chaos regarding my change of name and surname. In laws call me "Kavya" and many a times, I've had to be told that I was being talked to. There's already a "Purnima" in KK's family (or should I be saying my family ;-) :-)). Thus anyone calling out loud to aunt Purnima, I was the one to raise my hand and stand up only to be reminded that I was not the one they meant. :-)

KK was not much keen to change the name... nor was I... but I really was eager to know what my name would be. KK calls me by the name that I am widely known by, and that is what matters to me the most.

For ease of documentation, if I need to make changes, i don't mind flipping over from "Poornima Prabhu" to "Purnima Kamath". It is just a piece of paper for me. I was born a Prabhu, I guess I will live that way while adopting to a new family. and, why not? And again, why not say as proudly that I belong to the Kamaths as I say I came from the Prabhus? I have grown to love both the families... finally it's not the surname that matters, it is the people.

If you noticed, I have not changed the blog title. That's something I would like to keep it that way. Because, it makes me a girl that I was, I am and would wanna continue to be... free from relations, free from attachments, free from from me... even if it is just for a few minutes.


  1. I dont get the 'change your name and surname' bit at all, It was a sad decision to make , I still remember the first time I had to sign my new was so difficult, but now I am used to it. I will not recommend it to my daughter ever.

  2. excellent post your blog//pretty nice contents...helps to learn some thing for a non-native speaker ....attractive and cool article(What's in a surname?")makes u cool as like my cool blog

  3. @ Sujata,

    I agree it is difficult. After all it is not too easy to accept a new identity after living your life with another one for almost 23-25 yrs.

    @ Maubrey,

    Thanks! :) Keep visiting.

  4. After 18 years, i still resent the fact that I had to change my surname. I hated it then, I hate it now.
    I blog under my maiden name. Some things are solely mine, and I guard them possessively. Like Sujata, i would not want my daughters to change either their first or their last names.

  5. I am unaware of the fact that you have to change your name too. surname i have heard but name is new to me.

  6. @ Perception,

    It falls under the custom/ tradition category in some communities. Sometimes they do, sometimes they do not change the name. As for my SIL, though we have given her a new name, hardly anyone calls her by that one. :) Welcome here!

  7. Nice thoughts and nice to catch up with u in such a long time... keep writing Purnima!

  8. Thanks, Shaili! I'm hearing from you after a tres long time!

  9. Purnima, you have put this sensitive issue so nicely.
    Its been more than one year that I am married but I still cannot think about changing to new surname. Its really so so difficult!
    Our mothers must have changed their names and surnames so easily without even thinking, but its really difficult for our generation.
    If I've a daughter, I would definitely not want her to change her name and surname


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