Monday, November 07, 2011

Names that We Take

I was passing by Jezebel when this article caught my eye. Now, if you've read me for any length of time you know I retained my maiden name and this has led to confusion, embarassment, complication and chaos at various points. It led to open fury when the people at Survey Building tried to insist that I register with Vicky's family name for my voter ID.

For those however who point out that retaining my father's name is not necessarily better than taking my husband's, I would like to explain something very simple: I consider myself a Roy girl, a daughter of the Roy lineage that has several distinguished men but whose womenfolk I have always felt have far more personality, attitude and influence.

When we have put our minds to it, there is not a lot that we Roy girls have left undone. We have managed extended families, overseas migration, children's tragedies and errant husbands with determination and flair. We do not suffer from any excess modesty, nor are we in the habit of taking any more nonsense than suits us. An ancestress of mine once kept one of India's premier trains waiting for the green flag because she had more important tasks for the station master to perform. Bucking tradition and dispelling myths, I learnt to drive. In Calcutta traffic on Calcutta roads. What is a mere District Magistrate or a Calcutta High Court barrister or an NSTS scholar next to any of this? I would like to see the distinguished menfolk in my family effortlessly maintain a household of no specific size (at any given point in time) and catering to upwards of 20 guests who may or may not drop in unexpectedly at random meals -- on a limited budget. Oh, and we also knit, embroider, write poetry, weave stories, excel at our studies (a Roy Girl topped the Higher Secondary exam (class XII boards) in the generation before mine) and cook to beat pros.

So that is why I call myself Sunayana Roy. When you read me, you read a Roy girl. That's why you enjoy it so much. We may be painful to live with but we are entertaining with it.

22 comments:

beyond said...

great post.loved it.

Kavs said...

Ms. Roy, absolutely wonderful! I retained my maiden name for the simple reason that I love it.

My name has my personality, how could i give it up, even if it meant facing hassles in every government office?

Banno said...

One day, the government officials will have to accept that women can keep their own names and not go off into a tizzy about it. Good to know you, Ms. Roy.

Sue said...

Beyond -- Thanks

Kavs -- And why should the government hassle you over your name, I say!

Banno -- The pleasure is mutual, I assure you. :)

ummon said...

interesting post. and a subject very close to my heart.
i have dropped my dad's name (being south indian, there is no surname) and didn't take my husband's... which does cause a lot of confusion. but that's not stopping me from continuing with my 'suspended' name. i am quite easy on those who erroneously call me mrs c. and politely tick off those who do it continuously to prove some point in their twisted version of traditions, my sister on the other hand, who hasn't taken her husband's name gets quite militant--returning mail unopened, or sending off rather rude messages.

but frankly, i haven't encountered any problem in india or where i live now when it comes to official usage of my name as is.

U said...

Lovely post. Kept mine too

ChocolateClusters said...

And that, Miss Roy, is officially the best reason I've seen in favor of keeping one's last name after marriage.
Allow me to take my proverbial hat off to you in salute.

Also, do govt. officials/driver's license people/assorted others actually cause problems if you have your maiden name after marriage? I suppose I must look out for it if I ever take the plunge...

peccavi said...

I too have retained my father's name. One act of exchanging garlands or multiple other acts after that do not change me. 28yrs of being who i am and what i am are not erased in one day. I too get pissed by people who refer to me as Mrs. husband's-surname - just to prove a point. If done accidentally - i ignore it. Just as husband ignores those who call him Mr. my-dad's-name :D

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

*Stands up and applauds Ms. Roy -- for this post as well as the sentiment*

Brilliant, my Sunny Sue!

John Green said...

Great Information, Thanks for Sharing

Subhashree said...

SusieQ, well done.

converse double upper shoe said...

One of the most original post that i have ever read.Its difficult to read long posts but with your writing style,it poses no problem.

eCBSE said...

I’m impressed, I have to say. Very seldom do I see a blog thats both educational and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

George J said...

Nice post Sunayana Roy, very well thought out and penned. And wasnt there that one Roy who could turn into a Tiger.

TINA said...

thanx for such a nice posting.. i love it

Cee Kay said...

This is the best post about reasons for keeping your maiden name I have ever read :)

saleem khan said...

absolutely wonderful! i really like it...

Sparx said...

You are indeed...

I retained my maiden name for a while and still work under it - I sort of decided that surnames are always men's names so it didn't really matter which, but I preferred to have the same name as my son, in the end... still not sure about it tho!

Sue said...

Ummon -- I am militant about my correct name being on documentation but otherwise I have no problems being called Mrs. Soubhik Niyogy. I find it cute.

U -- So you did. :)

ChocolateClusters -- Oh yes, they give you a hard time and you have to let them pontificate about the name they think you should use.

Peccavi -- Yes, Vicky's got used to being called Mr Roy too.

M4, Subha -- Thank you :)

George J -- Was there? Care to tell me more?

Cee -- ;)

Sparx -- That's a sweet reason, if you ask me. A reason worth changing names for. I also find it sweet when people change because they want to share their husband's surname. What I have no patience with are officials who think they have the right to decide what my name should be!

Sachinky said...

I kept my maiden name simply because it would entail too much paperwork trying to get it changed (passport, green card, social security, state ID)! just wasn't worth the trouble.

Orange Jammies said...

Amen, Roy-girl. I relate.

Sue said...

Sachinky -- I know, that was a big factor in my decision too!

'Jammie -- Yo :)