For the fifth day of Bar-A-Thon I have decided not to write another short story but an anecdote from my experience. This was a recent incident, where I encountered a sexist Lord of the files in the form of a passport officer, while applying for my minor son’s passport.
A little flashback:
I decided not to change my maiden surname post marriage. Thus, all my government identity cards like Adhar card, election card, driving license and pan card have my maiden surname. When I renewed my passport there also I used my maiden surname. However, my son’s birth certificate contains my name and husband’s surname.
I tell you.
I had a C-section delivery. Post the operation I was obviously under the impact of anaesthesia and my poor husband was beside me taking care of both me and our new-born. During this time the hospital gave us a form to fill up for the birth certificate. As both of us were not in a position to fill up the form, my husband’s brother filled it up on our behalf. And, he gave my name and husband’s surname. I cannot blame him because the usual accepted behaviour in our society is that the woman would use her husband’s surname after marriage.
A fortnight later when we got our son’s birth certificate we saw that it had my name with my husband’s surname. However we didn’t take it that seriously then. Changing the name would have been a tedious job so we let the name remain as is. Our lethargy got the better of us.
Now back to passport.
I went to get my son’s passport done sans my husband. The initial rounds went smoothly but problem started in the last counter. The lady who was adorning the counter looked at my son’s passport form and asked with a frown on her face “What is the mother’s name?”
I replied, and then she pointed to the birth certificate and said that the name was different. I said that both were my names. Then she said that in my son’s passport she will put my name as per his birth certificate. I protested that if all the other submitted documents including my passport were carrying my maiden name then why she would put the other name in his passport.
Then this lady looked at me and asked with a cruel smirk “Are you getting divorced or separated?”
I was shocked. What has my name got to do with this? She said in Hindi “Agar divorce nahi hua to pati ka naam dalne me kya sharam?” (If you are not getting divorced then why are you ashamed to use husband’s name?) She went on and said “Khud k passport me bhi naam change kara lo, shaadi k baad pati ka naam hi passport me hona chahiye.” (Change your name in passport, after marriage a woman should use her husband’s name)
This passport lady was not the only woman who said this to me. Long back my bank manager had said that it was disrespectful of me not to use my husband’s name. If I love my husband I should attach his name to mine. My reply was that he should also attach my name to his if he loved me. The look on her face could have given the actors in Ekta Kapoor serials a run for their money.
In our society even though legally we can use our maiden name post-marriage, yet there are many people who judge us for not using husband’s name. Why is only a woman supposed to change her name, her address and her entire identity after marriage while the man has to change nothing? Even though we say ‘what’s in a name’ yet my name is my choice and nobody should judge me for that.
I AM PARTICIPATING IN BAR-A-THON, ORGANISED BY BLOG-A-RHYTHM. THIS CHALLENGE IS TO WRITE SEVEN POSTS IN A SERIES, EVERY ALTERNATE DAY BEGINNING JUNE 17TH. THIS IS MY FIFTH POST, AND TODAY’S PROMPT IS – “LORD OF THE FILES“
FIRST PROMPT POST “THE FAULT IN OUR STARES”
SECOND PROMPT POST “LIFE OF PIE”
THIRD PROMPT POST “OF ICE AND MEN”
FOURTH PROMPT POST “WAR AND PIECES“