Long before I passed out from my 10th I got this crazy idea of having a surname, it was a new life for me as I stepped into college. As I started this new phase of my life watching some of the quondam insistent English soaps on television, I realized soon that a man was identified by his surname. Least I knew that in India, any north Indian is born with a last name first. Living in a country which had a billion population and a billion surnames I was surprised to see my name truncated at Abhishek.S. It seemed some what incomplete; I still remember my engineering days when my north Indian friends laughed at me for 3 days continuously for not having a surname. “Well it was not my mistake” I cried at them. I cursed myself for not having one and kept on asking my parents the question for which they still don’t find an answer, “why is that I don’t have a surname?” there were so many available from kapoors to gandhis to bachans to khannas or khans I dint not bother what, but only hoped that I had something.
“Mysoreans and Bangaolearns do not have surnames, we are unique it is our prestige to have truncated names” hollered my brother who was more happy for not having a longish name. “Why should we have surname?” exclaimed my mother when I asked her, frustrated of not finding an answer I resorted to silence, it was then when I started to write for papers and every editor used to ask my surname and get into a appall when I used to tell “No, it is only Abhishek.S “always followed by that sarcastic smile, “was it a sin, not to have a surname?” I thought to myself and not before my frustration rose to boiling levels I started adding abstract surnames to my original name. It was anything from ‘Abhishek Gandhi’ to Abhishek Mehra’ to Abhishek Rajajinagar’ (I dint have a choice I lived in rajajinagar) to as crazy as ‘Abhishek Bangalore or Abhishek Mysore’ it was only a novel attempt from my side to show the world that even I can have a surname.
It was later I released that any Indian according to the Indian constitution over the age of 18 can change his/her name. Happiness clouded over me as I could add a surname officially but this time it had to be more serious and a logical one, I could not go the court claiming to have a surname as Gandhi or rajajinagar and thus the search began. It was nothing less compared to any CBI or FBI search modules. With no much advice or suggestions from home I began ‘googling’ to find a suitable name for myself. With no much success from the web technology, which I feel ridiculous; I resorted to family sources to see if anyone had any kind of surname so that I can tag to the same. With only hand few names my search ended at “Thondavadi”; ‘Abhishek.S.Thondavadi’ yes I finally found one, it was my maternal side’s village name, near Mysore and couple of my uncles and cousins had attached that surname to their name and did rightly so because logically speaking it was their surname.
It seemed perfect as I was all set to be called as Mr. Thondavadi and then the Indian internal family controversy started. “Officially you don’t belong to Thondavadi, you can’t have it as your surname” squalled my father’s side who played a role of an activist by spoiling my intentions to have a wonderful name. “You belong to a different lineage and it is not logical to keep a surname which doesn’t define your lineage” screamed my cousin. From the history books I learnt that I belonged to a village called “Bindingnavile” a typical Shree Vaishnava village near Hassan, it was very obvious for me to have my surname as “Abhishek.S.Bindingnavile” well that sounded like “Abhishek.S.Building” and I had no interest to have something which I dint care off. After a huge protest my dreams of having Thondvadi was destroyed and I resorted back to my search.
My next obvious choice was to keep my father’s name but he was not any Bachan or any Kapoor or neither a Hindhuja nor an Ambani and more over he himself disliked for having a name which sounded more feminine. Tired, exhausted I took a step back accepting defeat and trying to convince myself the logic my brother told long back. It was then I realized something, it stuck me as a lightening, I did not loose any time by going to the court and following my heart. Today I am recognized as Abhishek.S.Iyengar