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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Identity

I had a serious issue when I joined the afternoon shift in Holy Cross School, Agartala. Ma'm Sujata introduced me to Ma'm Padmakali saying that : She is Anirban's younger sister. I came home furious and asked Ma : Why can't they just say 'Aparna Kar'? Ma reasoned: They don't know you well enough. Your brother is a topper in the afternoon shift, and they have taken his classes, it'd be easier for Ma'm Padmakali to relate to you that way. Soon, they will know your name too. Her words came true sure enough. By the time I left school, teachers who never took my classes started calling me by my name, which was pleasant of course. That reminds me, in those days, I mentioned in slambooks- 'The happiest moment of my life: is when strangers to me call me by my name.'

Dada was five years senior to me in school, and there was never any scope of sibling rivalry, except maybe when we had to decide who has taken a bigger scoop from the butterscotch flavored brick ice cream. But the problem wasn't just that. My father was a well known figure and I was afraid that I'd grow to be in his shadows. But he explained perspicuously that no matter how tall your grandfather was, you always have to do your own growing. I remembered that.

Later, I had all the freedom I needed. I had to make my own decisions and I wasn't 'also someone's somebody' anymore. I was just myself. I made my choices. A few right and a few wrong ones. But I grew up. I became what I am today. And I am still learning.

Today, I look back with mirth at the anguish of a ten year old for being called 'Anirban's sister,' or ' Amitabha Da's daugther' or even ' Abanimohan Kar's granddaugther'. They all made their mark in their own ways. They did something that gave them a name to reckon with. When my younger cousins are addressed as 'Aparna's brother' at school, I wonder how do they feel? Do they have a desperate urge to break my academic records or set a new family tradition in some kind of achievement? Or do they look at those who address them that way with contempt?

Maybe I will try to find out next time. As of now, identity has assumed a new meaning. I wouldn't mind being called so and so's daugther. And I equally relish the moments I hear someone address Dad as 'Aparna Kar's father'. However, I would shun it if I develop a tendency to seek approval for my own existence from someone else.

We all need our space to grow. A little freedom to be ourselves. Freedom. What a delusive concept! You can't have your individual identity without the freedom to express yourself. Nonetheless, absolute freedom can corrupt. Imagine a world where anyone is free to do anything he/she pleases ! This invites the next factor: Self control. But that's a topic for another post. Till then, be yourself. Life is too short to be someone else.

12 comments:

Bubbles of FireWhisky said...

hmmm... i had this problem too... my dad's a very well known doctor so i always got introduced as his daughter... i still do... and i do mind... i hate it that people give me things for free with that indulgent smile... i know my dad worked very hard to get to where he is, but i want to make my own way around and nt live in his shadows or take advantage of his stature in society. in pune though, its the other way around... he is introduced as my father and i think i've seen a distinctly smug look on his face everytime that happens... i am as proud of him as he is of me...

Aparna Kar said...

Hey Bubbles! I think that's a very common problem. But just as you said: "I am as proud of him as he is of me" This has to be reciprocatory always. No matter what the relation is.

Btw, up early on a Sunday morning? How was Republic Day?

saikat said...

nice post...yeah when self was younger he too had faced similar introductions, and then it felt the same way why someone's son,brother,grandson....but maa always used to say, one day the family will be known by your name.

now when someone introduces my parents to someone else as saikat's parents...the pride and joy in their eyes are worth to be frozen for years.

neeways where were u...dint see u online for quite a while now..tc

arnab said...

you are again at your unpretentious best. you could have even tagged the post with "growing up" :-)

Aparna Kar said...

@saikat
Would you believe if I said that I was online and viewing the old episodes of Ducktales, Mahabharat and Byomkesh Bakshi all the time! And so, being on gtalk was a redundant obligation. Anyways, school re-opens tomorrow; maybe I'll be doing something more worthwhile now :D
Take my love aur ha.. kabhi to Sunday morning ko phone utha liya kar! Main nahi rahi India mein iska matlab yeh to nahi ki tu cell silent pe rakh k soyega .. hee hee. I miss our prime time gossip :)

Aparna Kar said...

@arnab
Thanks :) Did just that

Still Searching said...

Happens to everyone, when you're little you get identified through someone else.. and soon you grow into your own person, not so-and-so's sister or daughter or classmate etc.. I remember the first time I received a wedding card in my name, and not as my parents and family, I felt so proud! That it's like growing out of the shadow of your parent's identity and having your own... it's good to have that, though sometimes I feel proud to be called my mother's or father's daughter, or even my younger brother's sister!! Those are moments when I feel connected, and not isolated in my own identity...

saikat said...

are sunday ko zzzzzzzzz time hota hain...tu nahii hain..disturb karne wala koi raha nahii :(

waise prime time aha! ...those were the days *dreams*

tc...

Sam said...

well now I never faced this problem at school or college, may be because I was teh first born and also, there was no one prior to me in those institutions... but then, back in social circles, i was am still introduced as Subir's elder son... but then when i think of it, it's all a matter of who created a mark first... say for example, in tennis my bro's coach Saikat was once my coach too, for him my bro was Sumit's bro... but now, when i go back to the academy, i'm introduced as Sid's bro, simply coz, ppl know Sid there and not me (am a decade old there) no issues, wen am back in our residential area, to the youngsters my dad is Sumit's dad, to the older ones i am Subir's son, so it is kind of a matter of relativity... if they know some one related to you they link you up immediately.. I'd say that's a passport to probably enter a hallway which might've been difficult for you to enter, and then you prove that you can be there by your own rights!! at times, it does jangle a bit, but then I'm least bothered!!!
after all its all a matter of perspective!! :)

ManojVasanth said...

Nice Read...I personally feel great when somebody recognises me by name.Had been in top through out my school days,responsibilities I have taken and that identity still stayed even after many years..

I would love to call others by name.because I know they too feel good when somebody says their name

sejuti said...

nice post aparna..how have u been? this reminds me of another issue i feel strongly about, teh custom of girls changing their surname after marriage. As sweet as some think it might be, i guess im too much in love with my name. My dream has been to see Sengupta et al. in publications , n i don want tat to change.

Aparna Kar said...

@seju
I have been a good girl, as usual ;) Classes have resumed. It's good to have a new semester, courses and books.
I remember talking to you about it the other day that I'd like to retain my maiden name too- in all the books I publish and in all my professional affairs. 'Mrs.XYZ' should be a title exclusively used by my close ones, specially my hubby:D
My best wishes for your 'Sengupta et al.' :)