Keeping his name.

When I got married last year, everyone assumed that I would change my name and take my husband’s surname.

That was not the case.

I decided to keep my last name. My father’s name.

It was more significant than any other name change. Why would I want a name like his attached to mine? Surely, when the time came, I would hasten to change it, discard it, lose it.

But I couldn’t. It was me, it is me.

After all, I already find it difficult to describe myself, to give myself an identity. Who am I? No one calls me by my Indian birth name. I am now known as “Ros” by everyone. My mother just calls me a nickname. My original name feels as though it belongs to someone else. If, at the doctors or in a professional capacity, someone calls me by my full first name, I rarely respond. Maybe only to correct them. It doesn’t feel right. I no longer feel like that girl. My sister hates that people call me Ros. She won’t say Ros but she chooses to no longer be in my life so still – I never hear my old name.

My surname represents a lot.

My father made a point growing up that our name was very noble. It was aristocratic and we should set the right example because of it. I never met his standards and ultimately brought shame upon his gracious name. My sister also kept his name after her marriage but possibly for different reasons than me. She had made a career and was known by her surname, it made sense to keep it. My father loved that. He took it as though she wanted him to be an enduring part of her life. Maybe she did.

I didn’t.

I dreamt about the day I would be able to segregate and separate myself from him in every way. Why, when that day came, didn’t I do it?

I don’t know who I am.

My name is all I know.

It is a certain thing about me that nobody can question and argue.

Fighting for identity is something that is very much in my life.
Ang Lee


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