The Wife’s Surname

I might be the from the rare breed of husbands who gets addressed by the wife’s surname. My wife’s last name happens to be Kumar – and I get addressed as Mr.Kumar more than I am addressed by my real surname.

No, it doesn’t have to do anything with the fact that she earns more than me, she goes out to work and I am a house-husband (who does unproductive things like blogging) or I am the one who is assigned to do the dishes. But I am still the one who wears the trousers (Ok, boxer shorts), while she wears the ridiculously priced sarees and salwar suits.

Yet, I am supposed to be Mr. Kumar. And it has to do more with circumstances rather than my own choice. Allow me to explain.

When we got married, she already had a bunch of educational qualifications, professional certifications, bank accounts and tax accounts – all with her maiden name “Kumar”. It was a pain to try and change all that – so we continued with unchanged names for all official purposes. Now, the lady has the habit of issuing cheques – even for paltry sums. So everyone – from the doodhwala, cablewala to the kiraana ki dukaan were issued cheques. And all had the signatory as a certain “Mrs.Kumar”. And suddenly everyone in the neighbourhood thought that this my name was Kumar.

And whenever I walked out – all greeted me politely. “Kya haal hai Kumaar Saab?” I usually clenched my fists, returned my best fake smile – all the while muttering – saale, Kumar mere sasure ka naam hai. Things kept getting worse. All her colleagues thought that I was Mr.Kumar. All calls from them addressed me as Mr. Kumar – and wedding invitations were always addressed to Mrs. And Mr.Kumar. Soon, I got used to it.

That brings me to the Why-The-Hellwa question: why can’t the husband take the wife’s surname? Why does it always have to be the other way round? Or simpler still, why do they have to change names in the first place? There are some Maharashtrians and Bongs who go on to force-change the wife’s first-name after a wedding as well – but you can’t expect much from these idiots.

Let’s assume I have an aunt called Raffu Chakkar. Who goes on to marry someone called Champu Darzi at the ripe young age of 52. Now, why should my bechaari aunt be called Raffu Darzi? Why can’t my uncle now be called Champu Chakkar? Doesn’t the latter sound so attractive, amazing and alliterative?

The patriarchal society is dead. The fact that Eve was created from Adam’s ribs sounds good only on a Sunday afternoon. Still there are people (and courts) who create such a fuss when somebody decides to take his wife’s surname.

That brings me to the Bollywood’s so called first-family.  The first-family of nautanki to be precise. Why should the former Miss World be called Aishwarya Bachchan after her wedding?

Let’s try and compare things between Aishwarya and Abhishek. She earns more than him, has a lot more fans, has more Google searches, has more hit films, is a lot more smarter (he fell for her didn’t he?), is more sexier than him, and commands a better price. So why shouldn’t the Dostana stud be called Abhishek Rai?

Give me one reason why Aishwarya Rai’s trophy-husband shouldn’t be called Abhishek Rai.

Fortunately, there are people who don’t mind taking up their wife’s surname. Click here, here or here for more stories.

Posted by Manish on December 19, 2008 in In Bollywood,Indian Names,Personal,Why The Hellwa?


1 Shobha { 12.19.08 at 10:28 am }

A topic after my own heart – hats off to you Manish. I still have my very “own” last name – the one I was born with – I always knew that I was not going to change my name for anyone – thank the universe for a really sweet and understanding hubby and hubby’s family. I did not have to go to battle on this one. whew – a relief, really. :D How I wish he was known by my last name – but no such luck… ;)

2 Manish { 12.19.08 at 12:05 pm }

Shobha, I have a huge number of “why the hell” questions – and not everything to do with names. And I have a huge number of “why the hell” questions with “names” as well.

Whenever I have asked them – all I have recieved is hate mail. Simply because I love asking “why?”.

And this stupid world – its stupid laws that have been built on cavemen philosophies and customs – at most times – simply don’t have an answer to my queries.

3 Padma { 12.20.08 at 7:29 am }

me too always stuck by my name also because a kashmiri surname would just not have gone with my personality. hehe.
manishwa would more than agree on this.
manish even my favourite question is why.

4 Anshu { 12.20.08 at 7:45 am }

Hey Manishwa, I’ll tell you what: Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s son should be named Amitabh Rai Bachchan, his grandson should be named Abhishek Rai Bachchan. But they didn’t bother, so his grand bahu went ahead and became Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Howzzat! ;-)

Anshu (no surname)

5 Raffu { 12.20.08 at 8:30 am }

yes manish u r soooooooooo right ;)
men should get to change their last names after marriage. there is no way i am becoming a darzi… i will make my would be husband a chakkar for sure…. lol
anyway we dont have to worry much as according to your article men are diminishing faster and only women will be left in this world so they wont have any other choice apart from changing their last names ;)

6 Manish { 12.20.08 at 9:15 am }

Amitabh Rai Bachchan Shrivastava.

7 Manish { 12.20.08 at 9:15 am }

@ Anshu, don’t worry – I plan to do the “no last name” post as well soon…

8 mmao { 12.21.08 at 1:05 pm }

Muslim women from centuries do not adopt the husband’s name I still retain my own last name my sister in law keeps her father’s name and not our last name this angrezified thing that the asians adopted is for the birds , and what is with you and earnings should we make A Star is born and let you be the hero, who cares who makes more money if it ends up in your house or do you think a woman should not make more money after all she is less of a human being hmmm bol manishwa I sincerely hope theri yeh sab batein mazaq hain because you worry me my son oh sorry son in law

9 mmao { 12.21.08 at 1:52 pm }

Anshu please don’t call him manishwa that is only my name for him LOL just kidding

10 ahsan { 03.30.10 at 5:54 pm }

what do u think men having wife’s first name as sur name, what do u say folks.

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