I am all of the following – a daughter, grand-daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, mother and the myriad other relationships that we acquire as we move along in life. But at the core of all this is one identity that is uniquely me, which is ME! The ME who is a person in her own right, with an identity of her own.
There are women who have no issues with going through their entire life as someone’s wife, daughter or mother. I know some women who have known each other for the last 30 plus years and still call each other as the other woman’s daughter’s mother. For me, this is something I can’t imagine. Imagine knowing someone and then not knowing or worse not acknowledging their own names – is that what life is all about? I for one refuse to call any of BB or GG’s friends moms by the names of their children. If I don’t know their names, I’ll make it a point to know it and then use that. Yes, we’re all happy and proud mom’s, but that’s not the end of our identity.
In India, most of the laws of Hindusim is governed by what is called Manusmirti or The Laws of Manu. According to this, before marriage a woman is a subject of her father, at marriage her father passes her responsibility to her husband and if her husband dies before her, her responsibility then passes on to her son. Yet, the same Hindusim gives a woman equal rights as a man where a married man cannot undertake any religious ceremony without his wife sitting next to him and taking part in the ceremony.
Coming back to the topic, at marriage, a woman is supposed to be reborn and to ‘celebrate’ this, a new name is given to her. Some families force the new bride to taken on, formally a new name. So the name she was born with and grew up with is gone forever, and is will now be known as this new person. Her old name, harking back to carefree days is only a memory, which is taken out when she visits her maternal home. I have many friends on Facebook with multiple identities (that is have two first and two last names – pre and post marriage) who are living examples to this custom even today. This irritates me no end. Thank God I didn’t have to go through this – although knowing me, I wonder if I would have done it and whether I would have made a big fuss there and then?
This is one of the reasons I didn’t change my name when I got married (the other, more convenient reason being that I had to leave Mumbai immediately and so flew here on my maiden name and since then all official documentation has been in that name. This is the story I’m going to stick to!)