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Saturday, September 20, 2008

what mould do you fit?

it starts at school... this urge to fit everyone into moulds. not just physiological -- tall, short, beautiful, cute, could-do-with-nose-job!

and it's not just about trying to fit a personality mould either -- cranky, cheerful, angry, selfish, selfless, friendly (we are all one or the other at some point in the day).

then it's the environmental classifications, as well.

O comes back from school telling me how her teacher couldn't understand why i did not share the surname she and her father did.
apparently, she asked her more than once if she was sure my surname was not C.
O handled it well, as we have had this conversation before. because i have explained to her that i prefer keeping my name alone, and when she is old enough, she can call herself as she pleases.

i don't carry any surname at all. My given names are a mouthful by itself, so i dropped my dad's initial/name. in the south, surnames are not really common. you just take your father's first name. or the initial. so i was C. V S for a long time. and when i had to give a name for my bylines when i joined Indian Express, i decided V S would do just great. and marriage to a C-surnamed person, didn't change the resolve.

so already the teacher (whom i totally adore otherwise) is trying to fit my whole family into a mould -- the Cs.

i hate being introduced as Mrs R C -- especially by people who know my name. one of my sisters, who hasn't taken her husband's surname, sent out a communication to all, that her name will not change post-marriage. and when some very stubborn people still send letters or cards to her, addressed Mrs and Mr D or Mrs D, she returns it with a polite note that no Mrs D resides there, but a certain Ms M C does!

you may consider it extreme -- but what do you do when people try to force you into a mould, even when you expressly convey your dislike or disregard for it?

now, i log in to the school website to check O's profile, I see 'Christian' marked against religion. this when we didn't just leave the column blank in the school form, we actually ran a line through it. even the birth certificate we submitted doesn't contain details of religion. but apparently some know-it-all decided that with a surname like C, it has to be a certain religion.

i know i have a huge scene in the making at school -- and R would probably disuade me from doing so, as i have earned quite a reputation there already! -- but i don't want O trying /struggling to fit into all the categorisations thrust upon her. Malayalee/Tamil? Christian/Hindu? Daughter of Journalists=journalist-in-the-making? (oh, goodness forbid, hope not)

there are some things she can't escape, for now.
daughter of V&R, an indian; legacy of uneven teeth and quick temper from mum...
i don't want her burdened with more.

PS: I sent R out on this job, and he explained to the school official that we were a multi-religious family, and did not want any one to be highlighted. the detail was deleted without a protest. -- Sept 21

4 comments:

Teesu (very very Indian, very very good) said...

I like to keep my 'maiden' name mainly because I like the sound of it. Yes, am one of the few who likes her own name and surname;)

Deeps said...

Are'nt educational institutions supposed to be teaching children to form their own identity or helping them percieve themselves better? Its a pity that children like O are made to feel as if they are at the wrong end. Its indeed praiseworthy that she knew how to handle the situation

Deepti

Shyam said...

Oi, why "god forbid" if young Oviya also has the writing talent and wants to be a journo? :)

umm oviya said...

shyam, well paid writing jobs like technical writing (ugh)... maybe? but poorly paid journalism jobs? not so sure!