Candid, not Candied

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Name Calling

How do you call your husband? By name? By "those" words of respect? Or some other endearment?

Thinking back about 25 - 30 years; roughly around the time when our parents tied a knot; it is indeed fascinating to see how things have changed. If we were to place those times and situations next to today's, we would probably list down a 1000 differences at least. 

One of the stark difference and perhaps the most revolutionising (liberating?) is how we, the neo-ladies call our respective husbands. With evolution and open-ness of husband-wife relation, the suniye-ji era has started to  fade into oblivion. Once considered the supreme power in a wedded woman's life, is now more of a back slapping buddy who considers his wife an equal. In fact, the good news being, the husbands no longer want to be worshipped or labelled  as pati-parmeshwar. They gladly tell you "Call me by my name. No issues". 

This is where the confusion started for me. For some time, it was a constant battle for me to decide whether to call KK by name or Aji, sunte ho? (Itte, aikata ve? - Konkani equivalent) as a part of sanskar bestowed by my parents. Come to think of it, suniye-ji sounded natural to me before marriage, since that's how my mother and other older ladies in the house refer to their better halves. I have never heard my mother call my father by name, and if she did, I'd probably tell her not to. Not because it is wrong, but because it sounds so alien to my ears! 

Well, it wasn't lightening strike love for me and KK. We took time in discovering that we had feelings for each other. Of course till then, I'd been calling him by name. Later, when we acknowledged our mutual feelings and decided to bring our parents in picture, realisation struck me that he is no longer going to be "just a friend". With involvement of family and relatives and the fact that we were going to be "wedded as husband and wife", I knew I had to look at him from a different perspective. And this is where parents discreetly mention the "now there will be a husband in your life". 

Over a telephone call, I mentioned to KK that I'd have to show him some extra respect for being my husband. He was shocked. He did not expect a Pune-bred girl to have such orthodox thinking. I must admit, somewhere deep inside me, I did not want a husband, I wanted a friend to spend my life with. And suniye-ji would just keep me at one hand distance. But who'd convince my parents? Thinking from their side too, they were not too wrong. Its not always about the husband, its about the husband's family too - they'd say. 

Perhaps I knew KK, but I was certainly not acquainted with his parents. Maybe they expected an aadarsh bahu? Or were they open enough to accept me with my ups and downs? They were from our native town, not much lived in a city. I knew the living conditions in Pune differed a lot from the manner in which our native dwellers live. In such a situation, would they like it if I called their son by name?

Much later did I come to know that KK had told my in laws that he wants me to call him only by name. I was caught in a trap. In private, I'd call KK by his name and in front of others (mostly elders) I referred to him as "He/ His/ Him" (hanni/ tanni in Konkani). It was a tongue twisting job for me. Many a times I ended up confusing myself. KK was blissfully enjoying my predicament. "Who's asking you to create confusion? Why can't you simply call me by name in front of everyone?"

KK got fed up of my pleadings to let him call by "those" words. He said if I were to call address him in that way, then he'd address me in a similar way. What a put off that was! And then there were friends and elders too who laughed at my 1950's way. "You!!! You won't call your husband by name? Are you ancient or what?" they mocked me. 

You might wonder what was the dilemma. Why wouldn't I just take an easy way out and heed to my pati-parmeshwar's simple solution? Well, even I have ego problems. I did not want anyone to say anything to me regarding "ladki ko kuch sikhaya hi nahi". Yeah I was adamant.

However, of late my tenacity to stay put on my self imposed stupid belief started to wither as I realised how cumbersome it was for me to adjust my language every time I spoke to my in laws. Somehow my mother also succeeded in convincing my father that it was naya zamana and kid's lives have changed now. As long as they are comfortable with calling each other whatever they want, that should be fine. 

Still to be on the safer side, I explained it to my MIL why and how the transformation took place. She only laughed at my almost 1.5 year old stint. And I gaped at my FIL when he said "You do what he says. He should do what you says. We are not going to come in between the two of you. As long as you are happy with each other, we are happy." Frankly, very frankly, I was not expecting this kind of open-ness and broad minded ness from my in laws. Do I say I am lucky? :)

Now whether it is a 8 yr old kid or 80 yr old grandma, I call KK by name with no guilt. :D 
To be noted : not every one calls their husband by name, even today. In fact my own SIL, calls out to my brother "aji sunte ho?", while before they got married it was by name.  To each their own levels of comfort.


  1. So true, purni. Infact we were just talking about that a week back. How different we were before we got married. From speaking in English to calling by names, things have certainly changed. And I must put in, if your brother were to ask me to call him by name now, I will have hell of a time adjusting.

  2. I have always addressed my hubby by name and also as "tu/tum". I faced the same predicament of continuing so in front of my in-laws. I knew they wouldnt mind the "name" part but was unsure of the "tu" part despite hubby's assurances. I used to take the trouble of constructing the sentence in a way that would minimize calling the hubby "tu" or "by "name". Slowly it became so cumbersome that I chucked the whole facade soon :-)

  3. I know... remember how I used to laugh when u called him "hanni". Actually even I never had the heart to call KK "hanni/ tanni"... and thankfully it was him who drove me not to call him that way.

    Uma, SAME PINCH!

  4. I had written a post about this one exactly n chucked it out. Anyway, I was shocked wen I heard nivi refer to V as "hanni/tanni"... OMG... n I never imagined that u preferred that route.. I would gag first before I called my hubby "hanni/tanni".. goodness, me!! And the whole thing ws decided in 3 lines -
    What ll u call me?
    By your name.. dont expect me to call you with yeyyachi/hanni/tanni/etc.
    And done :D
    My parents were telling me the other route, I din listen.

  5. I certainly did not prefer that route. But I think that is something that needs to be mutually agreed upon.... so I thought ki if the hubby2be wouldn't be comfy with me calling him by name, it'd have been the hanni/ tanni calling.

    I was :O too when anna got married and I heard Niv say "hanni" to my anna. I started LOL-ing!

  6. " Mere woh" ... that is how ladies of my mother'sgeneration used to refer to their better halves! A friend of mine confesses that she was very embarrassed to call her fiance by name - guess why? He was called " Swaminathan" and she had no intentions of refering to him as " Swami"!!! But as you say , these days times are changing. When I used to do surveys in villages in my college days women used to get others to say the name of their husbands but today they say it straight out to research investigators.. though they do not actually address their spouses by that name!


Go on, say it! I will not sue you... pinky promise!


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