The tale of a child in a mixed marriage – and why he wants to change his last name to accommodate both his parents’ backgrounds.
As a child, I often wondered how it was to be raised in a mixed marriage family where the parents belong to different castes, community and religion. I remember being very curious about how the kids described their caste in school; and did they actually think they belonged half to the father’s part of the family and the other half to their mommy dearest and her khandaan!
My sphere of influence then were only a couple of friends who came from a mixed marriage. Whose parents had an epic love story! I was always very amused when I visited their homes or got to see the family in action. And amused, not because of anything funny or abnormal, but simply because of the cultural tadka that I enjoyed the most. The food, the language, the mannerisms, the scoldings – everything was different, and all so colourful and interesting.
In my case, both my parents are Konkanis (hail from the beautiful Konkan coast) and I take immense pride in my maiden surname ‘Pai’ (it definitely is one of the coolest) and my husband’s parents are both Guptas (they belong to the ‘Baniya‘ community). Thankfully, Vishal’s (my husband) and my story is a classic case of 2 States (a lot of what transpired during our courtship days has gone into that movie), and my 11 year old son, a result of this mixed marriage now gets to enjoy all this first hand and absolutely free of cost.
My husband and I have never staunchly followed either of our caste or family rituals or what is prescribed to be done as per the Konkani’s or Baniya’s. While there are plenty of things that we like and don’t like about either of the communities, we have tried to imbibe the best and leave the rest.
One example is, how my husband has become so ‘fishy’ (I don’t know of any other Baniya who has stepped into a fish market) due to the Pai influence and how I have developed a great taste for food and hospitality from the Gupta parivar. But honestly, I don’t know much apart from this – and this ignorance has helped us maintain an element of neutrality in our lives, and for our son to see, feel and thrive on.
We have always simply followed our hearts and try to inspire our son to be a secular, free spirited and happy person and never to get bound or confined to societal / community norms. And it’s absolutely amazing to see how this young mind absorbs it all and enhances it with his own individuality, wit and humour.
In the recent few months, my son has been clearly started expressing his feelings towards changing his last name to ‘GupPai’ ( Gupta+Pai). He says this with utmost honesty and innocence and also with some streak of a biased approach towards his Abu and Aaji ( his maternal grandparents who mean the world to him) and is very happy at the mention of this word.
And we are very happy too, in fact even I love this word. His heart is in Pai and his head in Gupta. What a lethal combination that is! And I would love to see how he evolves with these thoughts and emotions to keep the GupPai flag flying high !
My husband and I believe it’s important to raise happy and healthy children and that’s all that matters. Children don’t have a choice of parents, caste, community, religion and wealth. They are simply born and bound to this, but what matters is how we cultivate them to be happy and free spirited people to live in a world full of fun, laughter and compassion.
I am blessed to have many such exemplary parents and people from my own set of family and friends who constantly teach and inspire my husband and me to be better human beings and role models.
Happiness is GupPai!
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Published here earlier.
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