Stick to your maiden surname after marriage and trust me, life will become a short story collection. Every encounter with a stranger will leave a memory to narrate and laugh about or frown upon. You will love the shock in their eyes and then the question questioning your daring act or even… “Didn’t your husband object to it?” But what I love the most is when someone calls my husband ‘Mr Jha’. That is my ‘AAHAAA’…moment.
What’s in a name? Well…no idea. But yes, there is a lot in surname and a lot can happen over it. We got a preview pretty soon after our marriage and my ‘daring act’ of not changing my surname.
One fine morning I woke up with fever. I was six months pregnant then and we lived far away from our families. My husband took leave to take care of me. But by afternoon the virus showed its effect on him too. So, in the evening we checked into a hospital together. It was quite natural for us to opt for a semi-deluxe room, so that we could be together in sickness too.
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As the night descended, a tall strongly built elderly nurse entered our room. In a very gentle voice she said, “Mrs Jha, I am the duty nurse for the night and I will be at the nurses’ station just outside. Ring the bell if you have any problem or if you are feeling uncomfortable for any reason. I’ll be here in a few seconds.” She held my hand and in a very gentle voice asked, “You don’t have any attendant with you.”
In sickness it is natural to miss your family and by family I mean natural family. In an arranged marriage, it takes a while before you accept even your husband to be your own. Yes, it does! To consider the marital family as your own…it depends.
I too was missing my family, especially my mother. The nurse’s motherly touch brought tears to my eyes. “No, we don’t have any family here.” I remember telling her in a very meek voice that was hardly audible.
“Don’t worry, we are here for you.”
Then she turned towards my husband or rather my room partner, put her hands on her hip in a very bossy way and gave him a ‘you dare and I will kill you’ look. In a stern voice she almost barked, “Mr Roy, I am just outside. Sleep well. Good night.”
She pulled the curtain between us, separating us and left the room. We were too sick to comprehend her contrasting behaviour and tone or even ask her to keep the curtains open. We dozed off.
Next morning we woke up early. My husband opened the curtains that separated us and sat next to me on my bed.
He was bending on me, stroking my hair and we had eyes only for one another. We didn’t realise that someone had entered the room.
“Mr Roy, what are you doing there?” A stern voice jolted us from our romantic sojourn.
He turned and very casually answered, “Nothing.”
“What nothing? Why are you sitting on her bed and who opened this curtain?” She was really angry.
“You should have called me, Mrs Jha.” She was blazing fire. “You are a married woman. Even if you don’t have any relatives here, you should know your limit and what is right for you. Where is your husband or family?” She was unstoppable.
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“I’ll just check if we could arrange a separate room for you.” There was an authority in her voice.
My room partner was standing there with a mischievous smile and naughtiness in his eyes.
“Why should I shift to a separate room when I am sharing this room with my husband?” I asked her in a very composed tone struggling to control my laughter. My husband was controlling his.
“Husband…?” She turned to look him. She was loud enough to draw more curious staff into our room. “But your surname is Jha and he is Mr Roy?”
After a long embarrassed pause she said, “It creates confusion and misunderstanding.” That was her grouchy reply.