Monday, May 26, 2014

No-Nonsense Chayaisms from the 80s…A burst of feminism




                                                         A burst of feminism
“I don’t believe in surnames“. I declared to my husband one day, with a burst of feminism.“Why should I tag your name onto mine when I have a perfectly pleasant sounding one? Moreover why should I identify myself with your name? I am an individual and need no ‘branding‘ to declare who l am. From today I will sign only my name.” I announced firmly. My husband looked at me with what I thought was sympathy in his eyes (later he explained it was disdain) and it was heartening to get his support to drop his name.
The next day l tried out my signature with a flourish several times on my scribbling pad.Alone, without the crutch of a ‘Mrs‘ before and a surname. After it looked impressive and independent. ’I am the master–sorry–mistress of all I write,’ it seemed to say. I gave a flowery curve to the ‘a’ and a rather longish tail to the ‘y’. Satisfied with the results I waited to use my new found individuality.
The first opportunity came with the arrival of the postman bringing me a money-order from dad (a belated birthday gift). I signed my name and eagerly held out my hand for the money. The postman looked at the signature suspiciously, figured his moustache thoughtfully, scratched his head speculatively-but no money came out of his pocket.
 “Please sign your name exactly the way it is addressed”, he   said, making up his mind at last. There was a bit of argument over this issue and with a sign-it-or-forget it –air he prepared to leave frustrated. I thought one more day of servility did not matter and added my surname giving me a how–much–fuss-for-a-little-thing-look, he parted with the money.
Another disappointment awaited my new born feminism when an article I had written was unceremoniously returned by the editor of a magazine.
As she had assigned the piece I was wondering why it was being so summarily dismissed and called her to solve the mystery. ”Oh, was that yours?” she asked. ”You see, I knew you were writing on that topic for us and rejected the piece thinking it was someone with same name .Why  did you leave out your surname?” Well – and she is one of those who believes in women’s lib?
I was holding an exhibition my handicrafts in my cousin’s flat and sent out invitation to all my friends. None of them turned up all because they thought it wasn’t me. ”Why didn’t you write your full name?” they wailed. That much for my not needing a ‘brand mark’.
One can’t fight a battle alone even if it’s for one’s own name. When I went to a newspaper of office to apply for a job, the former had to be filled in with your surname first, I introduced myself to someone in a party and she wanted to know my surname. It’s no use. I’ve accepted defeat –the flowery curve is reduced to a wilt, and the ‘y’ is not so pronounced. Anyway, I guess my name looks OK with that distinguishing pre and suffix!