What’s in a name?

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while. Why did I decide to call myself a bou/wife in this blog?

After I got married, I did not take Hubby last name. I am deeply connected to my own name. My first name has a part of my dad’s name, and my last name is my mom’s first name. In essence, I have two first names (SS). It is very musical name :D. That is my formal name (bhalo naam). I also have a nickname (daak naam).  Those who have read The Namesake  by Jhumpa Lahiri know what I am talking about. My daak naam is a very Bengali and translates to Rainy Season in English. I was born in during the monsoon season and my name signifies that.  My daak naam is used by my family, family friends, friends from my childhood.  Most of the time now, when I introduce myself I use my bhalo naam.  Even though hubby uses my daak naam , I call him using his bhalo naam (I should really change into using his daak naam).

After I got married people who call hubby Bhai (A respectable term, refers to being an older brother…in Bengali culture we usually don’t refer to people with just their names as it is disrespectful if they are older than you) started calling me Bhabi   (Bhai’s wife). People who started to call me Bhabi included my brother-in-law, and hubby’s friends. To my brother-in-law, I asked him to call me apu (older sister). My brother calls me apu  and I consider my brother-in-law as my own brother. Using a term like bhabi reinforces the fact I am connected to him by marriage, not by blood. I really don’t want to differentiate between him and my brother. So I prefer that he calls me Apu. 

To Hubby’s friends, I always remind them to call me by my name (as most are older than me and some are my age). I want to reinforce that I have my own identity. By allowing myself to be a bhabi, I feel like I exist because there is a bhai or hubby.  Whenever I am introduced to new people as bhabi,  I always take a stand and correct people. This is, I guess, taking a feminist stand  (in my mind).

Considering the fact that I do not like being called a Bhabi, why am I calling myself a Bou (wife) in this blog?

I have spent the last 11 years of my life outside Bangladesh and only had very limited interaction with Bangladeshis. When I married a Bangladeshi guy, my connection to my homeland, my culture and my heritage was reinforced. Becoming a wife allowed me to connect to my culture in different ways. Becoming a wife has also changed me for the better. Becoming a wife has made me very happy as I found an amazing life partner. Being a wife has also become a large part of identity. I know there are certain things I will not do because  I am a bou and I know there are things I will do because I am. My relationship with parents have changed because I am married.  I have learned to understand life differently since I got married.  To appreciate all of those things, I decided call myself a bou as how and what I write about is effected  by my marital status.


4 responses to “What’s in a name?

  1. I’m going through the process of changing my name on my blog this morning lol. OMG. It’s so much work since I spent the last several months promoting it and creating all the accounts I needed to comment, etc with the old name “White Bhabi.” So I urge you, if you’re going to change it then sooner is better lol. Just make sure to send out a post before the change so I don’t lose you in my reader please!

  2. Is Bhai & Bhabhi prevalent all across Bengali culture or limited to some segment? I am from Gujarat .. all the other side of the sub-continent & we (like most north & west India) use bhai-bhabhi suffix as a mark of respect. Isn’t Dada & Bhaudhi the equivalent of bhai-bhabhi in Bengal (either side of border)? And Thanks for stopping by my blog & liking it.

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