Written by Suraj Shah.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” – Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
The name’s Shah, Suraj Shah. That’s what I’ve been born with, that’s what I’m still known as.
When I got married, I stayed as Suraj Shah. Naturally. The guy doesn’t change his last name for marriage, the girl does, right?
When I met my wife, she was called Heena Modi. Since getting married to me, she’s still known as Heena Modi. She refused to change it. I refused to force her.
It’s her identity. It’s what people in the community know her as. There are plenty of Heena Shah’s out there. There’s only one Heena Modi – to my knowledge. Makes it easy to identify the right wife!
What’s good about my wife is that she can comfortably go around being known as Heena Modi, but if anyone welcomes her as Mrs Shah or introduces us as Mr and Mrs Shah, she doesn’t make a big deal of it.
But when we’re out and about, and she introduces herself first, and then someone calls me Mr Modi, then impulsively I correct them by saying “It’s Mr Shah, actually”.
Why the need to correct?
What makes Heena so ok with being called Mrs Shah, but makes me so uncomfortable being called something other than Mr Shah? Why am I so precious about this name?
It’s my label, my identity, how people know me, the picture people paint of me when they hear the name. So I think.
Is the image of me as rosy as I think it is? Doubt it. I have my flaws – many of them – trying to keep them hidden so that my ‘image’ is not tarnished. But I bet people can see through that. I bet the people around me know what I’m really like – who I am beneath the layers of self-preservation.
Uncovering the layers to reveal the true self
Over the years, these layers have built up, one on top of the other, masking my real self, over and over again. These layers have hardened and protected me from the realities of the world – or so I thought.
What they’ve really done is that they have hidden away who I really am, and who I could be. It’s time to lose the layers, stop hiding, and face up to my true self.
Perhaps when I stop hiding, it’s won’t really matter whether I’m called Mr Shah, or something else.