#365DaysOfWriting Day 4: The Middle Name

My name is Divya Srivastava. 
 First Name — Divya; Last Name — Srivastava.
 That’s it.

In Mumbai, and some other parts of India, it is a norm for children to use their father’s first name as their middle name. Post marriage, girls are expected to take their husband’s first name as their middle name and his family name as their ‘last name’ but this post is not about that! I belong to another part of the country that does not subscribe to this practice of taking up your father’s name as your personal middle name.

However, ever since I moved to Mumbai, the fact that I don’t write my “middle name” (because I don’t have one!) is a worrisome issue for many people. I remember a nosy colleague of mine cautiously asking, “Do you get along well with your father?” 
 “I do very much, thank you for asking!” I snapped. 
When I look back now, I find this question amusing. Do people seriously believe that all these single girls who write their father’s name as their ‘middle name’ have a happy, healthy relationship with their dads? I beg to differ. I have enough experience to prove that just like using your husband’s surname is no certificate of a happy married life, not using my father’s name does not mean I share an estranged relationship with him.

Once, when I was freelancing with a small organization, I did not receive my payment on time because the cheque had bounced. Upon inquiring, I found that the lady filling the cheque had gasped in horror when she found that I had not filled my middle name on the invoice form. She took out all documents I had submitted and probably sighed with relief when she saw my father’s name written on my PAN Card. Immediately, she wrote a cheque to “Divya Pramod Srivastava”. As my bank does not recognize this name, the cheque was rejected. I really wish she had bothered to look at my name above my father’s name and seen it just as it was — DIVYA SRIVASTAVA. It would have really saved me a lot of trouble! When confronted, the lady was not even apologetic. “Everyone has one. If you are a special case, how is that my problem?” was what she had to say. I really felt like slapping her that time! Thankfully, my assignment soon came to an end and I had to deal with her no longer — I still remember the way she looked daggers at me every time she handed me my payment post that incident.

When applying for a gas connection, I faced a similar dilemma. The man refused to take my documents unless I entered a ‘Middle Name’. Despite showing him copies of my Passport, Driving License, PAN Card where there was no mention of any ‘Middle Name’, he would not budge. He told me that he cannot accept the form until I write my father’s name in the ‘Middle Name’ column. I pointed out that the ‘Middle Name’ column was not marked with an asterisk thereby indicating that it is only an optional requirement. Still, he did not change his mind. Finally, I just gave in and filled ‘Pramod’ in the ‘Middle Name’ column. He glanced at the form and smilingly accepted my documents with a satisfied nod. I just wanted to scream!

Shakespeare used to say, “What’s in a name?” 
 Apparently lots, if you live in Mumbai!

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