Ask Auntyji: Should I change my name?

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A name’s a name? Sometimes not…

Dear Auntyji,
I have recently arrived in Sydney from Kerala, where my entire family were strong supporters of the Communist Party. As you may know, the Communist Party has done a lot of great work in Kerala, our literacy rates are exemplary and our social policies, well, don’t even get me started on this. Now the thing is that my father truly admired Josef Stalin, and thought he was a great man. Consequently, when I was born, he decided that I should be called Stalin. Growing up in Kerala, this wasn’t an issue. In fact, there was three other Stalins in my class, except for the summer of ‘96 when there were six of us – on account of some boys transferring to our school. I arrived in Australia three months ago and I am usually met with startled looks each time I introduce myself. Everyone wants to know about my name and unlike Keralans, I have been told that Australians don’t feel the same way about Stalin as we do. So what should I do? Should I consider changing my name?

Auntyji says
CHANGE YOUR NAME! Your father may have a rose-coloured view of Mr Josef Stalin, but Australia takes a more historically accurate view of the tyrant who killed 20 million of his countrymen. Being named after one of the world’s most despised dictators is not something you want to go around proclaiming, especially in a professional setting. Each time an Australian looks at you, all they can think about is how many men were killed by someone with your name. It’s like being named Nathuram Godse. If you had this name, wouldn’t you want to change it? Well, it’s the same in Australia. Okay, I understand you don’t want to hurt your father’s feelings, but while you are here, save yourself the hassle of the same old boring questions. So what name should you choose to be known as? Well, there are so many options. Santosh. Sandeep. Sangamesh. But why not try something even better. How about Shane. Then when Australians ask whether this is your real name, you can say yes. You choose to call yourself after a great Australian – Shane Warne.

On same-sex marriage

Dear Auntyji,
I am a 40-year-old single man and I have been watching all this talk of same sex marriage on the news. My closest cousin Ravi who is 38 is all in favour of this and has found himself a partner and has come out and now attends all family functions with Pravin. Everyone accepts this and no one says anything. Ravi is fairly flamboyant and will loudly proclaim that he should be allowed to marry whoever he wants and has hinted that he will marry Pravin when the time comes – as though this is perfectly fine. When I listen to Ravi, I get frustrated because he acts as though he should be able to marry whoever he wants. The truth is, Auntyji, 20 years ago I too met someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I couldn’t, because he wanted to listen to his parents and do the right thing by them. He went and got married to a lady and they have three grown up kids now. So my thinking is that we can’t always marry whom we want and I don’t see why Pravin thinks he should. Every time I bring this up with Pravin, we end up in an argument. What are your thoughts?

Auntyji says
I see two streams of thought here. The first is that you feel we can’t always marry whoever we want. This is true of everyone, and not just a peculiarity of any particular community. Most everyone will tell you a story of the one that got away. But this happens everywhere and there is nothing new about this. Your second point – and I think where you’re confusing the issue – is that you feel that just because you missed out on your love, one can’t always marry the person whom they love. The point Ravi is trying to make, is that being part of the LGBTQI community, he has the same rights as anyone else to marry. This is what he means – and this is completely different from the first point. All consenting adults should have the right to be with, and indeed, marry whomever they please. To put it bluntly, Ramu should be able to marry Shamu if they choose. Just because your first love went and settled with someone else, doesn’t mean you can’t give love a chance with someone else, And indeed, if you so please, why shouldn’t you marry this person if you feel you wanted to make a commitment to them for the rest of your life?