I know surnames are purely regional. It identifies your ancestry, family history, caste, social position and forms a major part of your identity. My surname (Kurup) has done a lot of good things as well as damages to me, over the period of time. My father bears that surname. So did his grandfather. Incidentally, my grandfather (maternal) bears that name too and so does his father and his father before that. I’m a 9th generation Kurup from two families. My mother often fondly says that I bear traits of two Kurup families. Maybe true. Maybe it’s a bad thing, but actually who gives a damn?
Keeping surnames attached to first names had almost gone out of fashion when I had joined school. Manu S Kurup; as a child, I didn’t know what ‘Kurup’ meant. When the rest of my mates stylized their fathers’ names and kept them as a funky tail to their own names, I was carrying around a surname that didn’t mean anything to me.
‘What is it?’ I whined at my Mom, one afternoon.
‘It is your name.’ She said.
‘I don’t like it.’ I whined again.
‘Your father has it. Your grandfathers do. Their fathers do. Your son will have it.’ She poured more soup into my mouth.
‘I don’t want a son. I don’t want this name.’ I didn’t know which was more terrible; having this surname or having a son.
I knew little about caste, then. If you are not from India, my dear reader, let me tell you that Caste is a big thing among illiterates and nincompoops in India. The rest of the India (Mind you, that’s a very small minority!) don’t give a damn. There is a third category. People who are milking ‘caste issues’ like a cow and feed off that milk so that they’ll get some mileage from it. In academics, I know people who are born in supposedly lower castes, and howls for caste equality and at the same time turns heaven and earth to avail every single penny that the government provides to people belonging to ‘weaker’ castes. It’s like a female asking for equality but fights for a separate queue for women! How absurd.
Let’s come back to my issue. I don’t care about the caste remarks that have been made about my surname. I have heard people saying that I carry this surname to flaunt my upper caste identity. I heard it very recently too, which is why I’m writing this. I have never had any benefits from anywhere with this surname. On the other hand, this world is filled with people who can’t spell/pronounce/write it properly.
The FedEx/Gati deliverymen has the habit of changing K-U-R-U-P in to K-A-P-O-O-R.
I understand that the sounds are the same but I’m sure the sequence in which it is uttered is different. Also, I seriously have no interest in being branded into the family of some dumbass movie stars.
Cab on Click has my surname as ‘DURUM’. Even after repeated attempts at changing it, the people who work for this ridiculous cab company are unable to correct it. On every booking I do, I urge/request/plead/order them to change it, But when they send the confirmation message to the phone, I read that ludicrous distortion of my surname; D-U-R-U-M!!! What in Gods’ name is that???
I was so angry the last time I saw this that I called back and cancelled my booking. To add fire to that, their area manager called me back to inquire about the ‘praablem’ and he was so dumb that I abused his entire clan. Even after thinking about it a lot, I just don’t understand how spelling out a name as KURUP can end up as DURUM!
Then comes restaurants, hotels, malls and retail stores. When I say my surname, they write it down as GURU. As much as I’d love to be a wicked guru to people in several things, I don’t particularly enjoy seeing that attached to the name my parents gave me.
There was even a time a manager of a hotel addressed me as Mr. Guru on my way out of their establishment. I turned back and told him in a very civilized manner that I hate people doing jobs that they are so totally not qualified for. He asked me what I meant by it. I just smiled.
P.S: These days I just say my Dad’s name as my surname. I surrender.