Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Name Change

My Nikah was solemnly performed in a mosque, not due to religious dispositions, but primarily due to the austere time constraints dictated by wedding halls in Lahore these days. 

After the Nikah proceedings were securely sealed with the qabool hey, qabool hey, qabool hey, everyone congratulated me. I was excited and awestruck with the status change finally happening.

In the midst of rising excitement and mixed emotions, I heard someone say “Mrs. Rehan”! I looked around and found my Nano smiling at me and addressing me as “Mrs. Rehan”. That sounded so awkward and aunty-like. It looked as if she was addressing one of her own age-mates! Yikes! I lightly objected on the face of it, but secretly enjoyed being so closely associated with the one whom I just got officially and legally hooked to. Now I was Mrs. Rehan. 

I wanted to get my name changed to include my husband's name as my surname. So I visited the NADRA office to request my name change, address change and marital status change. I was given a token over the counter to wait in queue. After a few minutes, someone called out, “Sarah Rehan”. That was supposed to be me. It felt so odd. I walked up to the source of the sound, and updated my information with the national database. Then another person asked for “Sarah Rehan”. Yes, that was me again! I was required to give my finger impressions, and new signature to go with my new name. Moments ago, I had renounced the name that I had signed across so many places all my life. I had become so used to signing my maiden name. And here I found another small but sentimental change closing in. I clumsily signed Sarah Rehan on a piece of paper. I quickly practised the new signature a few times, and submitted the sample. There, my name changed! 

I used to wonder why people say that a new life starts after one gets married. I now know the feeling. It is a new life, a new name, a new family – a new existence altogether. I believe that among the tirade of tricky transitions that happen from 'single' to 'married' status, the name change is a small but significant transition. I moved to a new city, a new home, and got blessed with new parents. My surroundings changed altogether, and the change was not just that alone. I was now sharing my life with someone. Amidst these changes, I felt incomplete to not be associated with my husband in the socially recognized representation. I found the name change to signify the unity of the bonding that I share with my husband, as we have been united as husband and wife. Now we are called Mr. and Mrs. Rehan. It gives us societal representation as a connected entity and brings forward the name of a new family that would mark the start of another lineage. My new name makes me feel securely attached to my life companion. 

As expected, the name change necessitates a series of tedious, time-consuming and laborious documentation changes to validate the national and international identity documents, and objects like driving license, club membership cards, bank credit/debit cards, and academic/professional certificates. Moreover, the name change can prove to be an emotional transition for the girl who is already undergoing a host of changes with the marriage reality settling in. Prior to the marriage, the maiden name of the lady represented her in society and presented her to the world during her formative years. It was the name that supported her to become her identity and proof of existence. Of late, some women in Pakistan stick to their maiden names after marriage to maintain their academic, professional and social identity as it existed prior to their marriage. My husband had no issues with me maintaining my maiden name post marriage. He fully supported whichever made me more comfortable. 

However, the charm of being attached to a new person and a new name after bearing the name of the family that reared you all along the youthful years, is warm and unique. Further, it would give the man one is now attached to the pleasure of your confidence in him. in the marriage to feel esteemed and happy that the woman who has joined him is ready to embark the life journey with him as one unified entity. It is heart warming for the society to welcome aboard the new family that has emerged post the marriage. I knew what I wanted. I welcomed the marriage. I welcomed the name change. 

Just submitting this article with my new identity feels so great. It gives me the strength and security of the companion who stands with me every moment. It reflects the newness that I have undergone with the marriage.

This article was also published in The Express Tribune on 22 July 2012:

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