I have already shared my name story a couple of years ago on this blog. So, this post most definitely is not about my name but more on calling a person by name. In the corporate world, anyone and everyone gets called by their first name and after 7+ years of experience, it does not seem too odd to me anymore. But those first few weeks of joining work, I literally had to stop myself from addressing someone as a sir or ma’m. I would repeatedly be told to use a person’s first name instead. Few years down the line, it was my turn to say the same to my juniors. There is a sense of equality in calling a person by his/her first name no matter how senior he/she might be in the organization. The same is true for any relationship as well. Obviously we don’t call our parents or elders of the family by their first names but if at all someone is in the same age group, why not? I guess most of you are guessing where I am going with this post. No? Ok, I am blabbering as usual then 😀
I have known S right from my higher secondary school days. We were classmates before we became friends to best friends to a couple. He is nothing but three months older than me. I am used to calling him by his name ever since I have known him and using lesser known nick-names once we got closer. I don’t know what my thought process was when we decided to get married at 24. Frankly speaking, I hardly expected any changes in my life. I knew S well and I had complete trust on him. I knew my life would be better, if at all anything changed. I really did not factor in the families, extended families or their thoughts to have an impact on our lives.
During the first week of my stay at the in-laws, it so happened that I was narrating a fun story about S to my MIL. Vaguely, this was my statement – “ S anga vandaan, naan avana pathen” (roughly translated to I saw S when he came over – without using honorifics) . I saw my MIL’s reaction change all of a sudden. I was shocked hearing what my MIL had to tell me soon after – “Don’t call my son by his name. Also, you should give enough respect to your husband”. To say that I was taken aback would be an understatement. This came up totally unexpected and in a tone that can’t fathom even today. Although very small, this had to be the toughest change if I decided to follow it. With no S nowhere around when this incident happened, I really did not know how to react and remained silent. May be because I knew S many years before getting married to him or that he was my friend, I couldn’t bring myself to call him with honorifics. It was not something I could have changed overnight. Later that day, I shared the incident with S and asked him what he wanted me to do. In the hearts of my heart, I wanted him to tell me not to change and that exactly was what he told me. I could have gone ahead to share the same with my MIL, who is otherwise very sweet and caring. She is not a person of this generation and over the years, I have come to accept this fact. She wants her first DIL to follow all that she did/still does as a DIL. While I can’t accept/do every single thing she expects from me, this I have to live with, lest I hurt her feelings (Or I can say I missed my chance to speak when I had the opportunity). So, what do I do when am at in-laws? Not address the husband anything. Yes, you read it right. I neither call his name nor use honorifics. I try to be as generic as possible, that way satisfying both my MIL as well as my inner-self. It’s not easy but I have got used to it now.
Over the weekend, I was talking to my cousin and the conversation shifted towards S. As usual, I used S’s name while talking and immediately, my cousin brother corrected me saying, I should respect my husband. I don’t understand how calling a person by name translates to lack of respect. Sigh. Super bugged, I went to S and started addressing him with honorifics. Poor him, not understanding the background was a little taken aback as we both are not used to this way of talking. When he later learnt about this respecting-the-husband thingy, he started addressing me with honorifics. His logic being why is respect reserved only for the husband and not the wife. Makes sense right?! Wish I could tell this to the next person trying to come inbetween this!