I Did Not Change My Surname

I met a lady in the park today who wanted my phone number. While saving it, without asking me she promptly wrote my surname as Kapoor. I had to check her and say it is Seth. Though she did not say anything, her expression said it all.

Many things have changed over the last few years, and education and exposure to the world has brought about a lot of change in our thinking process. One thing that I feel still has not changed and will take a long time to change is that girls are expected to change their surname after marriage. For me while growing up it was a normal thing as my mom and dad had the same surname. It was when I was grown up and the talks of being married started, I realized that my name was my identity and I would not like to change it.

When I got married I was very sure of the fact that I will not leave writing my surname. In fact, my parents were not also very happy with his decision besides many other people, but this was something I decided without even asking someone. This was my name and I had decided to keep it.

Though my family accepted it, or rather was forced to do it, it was more of a challenge to manage the world. You suddenly were addressed as Mrs. Arushi Kapoor. Excuse me, what happened to Ms. Arushi Seth? Getting my Aadhaar Card was a task as my surname was not the same as my husband and it seems our marriage certificate also was not relevant. When I went to renew my passport, people in the passport office had a tough time digesting the fact that my spouse had a different name. You cannot even imagine the look on the face of the lady at the passport office when we went for my daughter’s passport.

Our society lives with a pre- conceived notion that a husband and wife will have the same name. I do not understand why women are treated like a piece of land where a transfer in ownership is needed. A man married a woman and not a property. I married my husband because I loved him and I respected him not because I wanted to become him.

A girl’s name is her identity and it is a proof of her ancestry. Though I have not seen my grandfather but I have never met a person who does not praise him. I am proud to be his granddaughter and I am proud of my name. When I say my name and people realize I am Mr. Seth’s daughter, I feel honored. The name is very important to me as my husband’s surname would be to him. I do not think the rules of the game should be different for both of us.

I had that name for 29 years of my life and that will not change in one day. It does not bother me that we three are a family with different surnames. I recently read about a couple who both added the spouse’s name. I thought that was amazing. This is how we need men in our society to respect women but even the most educated men will never do this. I would have liked it if my daughter carried my surname too but I did not stress about it as she will also be proud of her father’s name like I was.

Many people think it is sexist when a woman decides to keep her name. I feel this is just a right we need to give to a woman. She should be able to choose the name she wants to use. If women are happy to use their husband’s surname, they should go ahead. It is their choice and they should be given the right to decide. But no one should dictate this to them. When we as mothers can take a stand, our children will also be able to do it. There is nothing right or wrong about changing the surname, it is your choice.

Let name change not be influenced by religious, social and cultural reasons. It should not be a proof ownership. If you are happy to take your husband’s surname, go ahead. But if you do not want to change your name, do not do it. Do not be scared of what the society will say or how no one in your family has ever done this. Someone has to take the first step when it comes to bringing about a change, so why should it not be you?

“You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.”

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