339/365 What is in a name?

Yesterday I shared a picture of my son on Social Media with an award he got for the best performer in a play from his school. His last name is my first name and someone asked me a question. What was my opinion about having the last name as the Father’s name? 

The person probably asked me that because I have spoken several times on why we should not use a caste name (Among Indians) as the last name as it is a remnant of the discriminative caste system that exists in India. Though it is much less than what it was 100 years back. I see it being reintroduced in names with the new generation. 

This question made me think. Why did I put my name as his last name? Was it because it made me feel important? I do not remember. That was what I felt back then 15 years ago when he was born. We were only thinking about the name and not the last name.

There were some other reasons as well. One was that my last name was my family name which was way too big and I have had so much problem spelling it to people and people get it wrong. It has 19 letters and some letters twice together like LL TT PP and so on. In India we just use initials and not the expansion. And I had no plan to come to the United States where Last name is kind of your identity.

Then my wife’s last name was the same from her last marriage and we never bothered to change that either. If I was to look for her maiden name, it was a caste name. So we did not want that either.

My son from my first marriage has a different last name than him. His last name is my dad’s name. And his middle name is my name. For Rahi his last name is my first name and middle name is my father’s first name. Now don’t ask me why all these different ways. 

I think I did not really care about that last name. I did not have any legacy or family name to be promoted or preserved as I only believe in the individual’s life being happy and content. My only criteria was to not have a caste name. I want them to create their identity for themselves. They should belong to everyone and not to any clan or pedigree. If they don’t like their last name or name, they can always change it as they wish. I will have no issues if they change it. 

But looking back I think I should have used my wife’s name also in my son’s name. Or I could have gotten all creative on the last name just like the first name. because having only my name and not his mother’s name is a sign of patriarchy. I did not think that much back then.

But as Juliet says “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Categories: Random Thoughts

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