We recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and it’s only last month that I officially got my name changed. Four years of confusion and procrastination and finally one day I hit a reality check that it had to be done sooner or later.
My maiden name is Avantika Chitlangia and I’d never been proud about the surname before marriage. It was long, no one ever spelled or pronounced it properly and I was quite happy that I could bid adieu to it after marriage. We got married and went for our honeymoon, we got busy with our jobs soon after. Then we had a kid and life got 10x busier.
My husband never forced me or pushed me to change my name, so I too let it be. Like any other real-life couple we had a couple of major fights too, after which I’d think, “Good, I haven’t changed my name yet!”
Things were just fine; I used my maiden name for all official requirements. But then my son’s birth certificate said Mother’s Name: Avantika Sharma. And my office ID also said Avantika Sharma. Next thing I know, for an official trip, my flight tickets also say Avantika Sharma.
Related reading: The fun that followed when I stuck to my maiden surname
I was in a panic; I’m someone who always follows the rules, being punctual and so on. There were around 10 days left for the journey and I started making frantic calls. First to the travel agent, if they could book a new ticket (No), then to the airlines (Again no help). Finally I realised it was time to actually do what I’d held back on from sheer laziness and lack of a strong reason: decide what I wanted my name to be.
Now Sharma is a great surname, simple and short and everyone knows the spelling. I would have happily got my name changed to Avantika Sharma long ago, had my dad not pointed out one day that there was some shady model by that name, who obviously ruled over Google (Yes, you can Google Avantika Sharma and check). I didn’t want that name.
My other option was to have my husband’s name as middle name – the old-school way, but that abbreviation formed AKS which is a former friend’s name (incidentally through whom my husband and I met) and it felt creepy that I would always remember her face whenever I thought of my name. I know it’s a funny excuse, but, well, there you go.
So now what were the options I was left with?
I could have happily continued with my maiden name and been all feminist about it. My husband wouldn’t have protested.
But then that meant I would have to have my son’s birth certificate changed, and that got me thinking: Wouldn’t my son be confused that I had a different surname from him? I imagined what if my mom had kept her maiden surname; wouldn’t I feel weird every time I wrote my surname as Chitlangia and hers as Laddha? Somehow it makes it feel like she is not a part of this family. I certainly didn’t want it to look like I wasn’t a part of my eccentric Sharma family.
And then I knew that I had to follow the latest trend. Keep both. So I decided to make my already long name even longer. Avantika Chitlangia Sharma. When I thought about it, I realised I was actually quite proud of my maiden surname – and people recognised me by it. Why, all my achievements (big or small, ranging from school certificates to being part of a group that broke the Guinness Record) were all under my maiden name. People who change their name entirely after marriage to take up a new identity, I don’t know how they really do it. I log on to Facebook and wonder who that person is till I have stalked them for a good ten minutes to see some old photo in which I recognise them as an old school or college classmate.
Related reading: Best wedding stories – collection of romantic stories
Though I knew that making my name longer could be an inconvenience, it solved all my problems. I was linked to my past identity and also had my new identity. My son wouldn’t have to think about where I belong, and everything would be in place.