It is a truth universally acknowledged that teenage-hood brings trauma in its wake. For girls, it is usually connected to breasts, bras and boys. I must be the only girl in the world for whom the trauma related to a dick – a big dick at that.
I was in eighth grade when the attention of my hormone-charged class of 36 boys and girls suddenly fell on my surname: Mahadik. With “Maha” meaning big in Hindi, I was a sitting dic.. sorry duck! I faced the vicious teasing with a stoicism and non-violence that would have put Gandhi in shadow. As I kept telling myself – it could have been worse, my surname could have been “Harddik”. But secretly, I vowed to get married and change my surname as soon as possible.
The vow took 17 long years to materialise. But the strangest thing is that when finally the moment arrived to rid myself of that blighted "Mahadik", I felt an immense spurting of affection for it. For better or worse – mostly for the worse – it was my name. All my certificates, my degrees, my email addresses, my facebook name, my skype ID, and all the hundreds of articles I had written over the last seven years carried that name. Even my bills came under that name. All my friends knew me by that name. All my long, lost friends probably remembered me by that name. What if they googled my name and couldn’t locate me?
But Sid was adamant. As Mr and Mrs Prakash, we were a unit. What if someone wanted to send us a wedding invitation? Would I really want the invitation to come in the name of Mr Prakash and Ms Mahadik? Wouldn’t that be absolutely outrageous?
Faced by such impeccable logic, I quelled. Kicking and screaming, I decided to change my name.
And this month, I finally had the honour of getting my first few articles published in the name of Chetna Prakash.
One for the website Mumbai Boss, which funnily enough is about another famous name change and ensuing identity crises: that of the city of Mumbai.
Open Magazine, which is my revenge against Shashi Tharoor, ha ha ha!!!
And finally in Crest, the Saturday paper of The Times of India on art and culture.
I eagerly sent the article to a friend in Mumbai. And guess what? She replied, yah but who the hell is this Prakash woman?