It happened around the time my dad disowned me, my mom went back to her maiden surname. I too decided that I should change my surname, I wasn’t happy with my name either. Later I realised nothing was wrong with my name or my surname, I was running away from people who disappointed me. I felt unloved and misunderstood. I thought by doing so I could get rid of my past, that can happen only in an ideal world, in reality, we have to build a life around the past.
When I was seventeen, I got my passport done. Now in an Indian passport, the parent’s names get mentioned on the last page. Seeing my dad’s name on the passport didn’t excite me. In fact, every time I looked at the passport his name would spell out in bold letters which would irritate me. I so wanted to get rid of that name.
Five years later I applied for another passport, (I’ve no fucking idea why I did it) What I didn’t realise was it’s a rule that both parents names have to get included in the passport. So I got another passport again with my dad’s name mentioned. I was so disgusted I wanted to burn it. Please note that all this happened pre 9/11. The world was a different place then. Still, I should have not got another passport when I had a ‘valid’ passport. Better not to trend into that area.
Another two years passed and my ex got a job overseas and wanted me to join him. I had got my passports done when I was an undergraduate, and now I had completed my education I had to get an “Emigration Clearance” The passport authorities found out I had two passports. It was the year after 9/11.
I should have got arrested, I don’t know why I wasn’t, I’m still not aware of the laws. The woman in charge kept asking me where my old passport was and why did I have two passports. My mom came to my rescue and told her I had lost my passport so we got another passport done. Obviously, she didn’t believe us.
What followed later was a nightmare. After the trail of paperwork, running thru and fro and being charged a fine, after eleven months I got a fresh passport with only a five-year validity. My dad’s name was still there and now I had another remark on the passport which said OLD PASSPORT DESTROYED, in big bold letters.
What had I accomplished with this stupidity nothing? In fact, now it’s difficult for me to get visas to ‘certain’ countries because they want to know why was the passport destroyed. When a legal document gets lost one needs to go to the police station and lodge an official complaint. So when you get a new passport the details gets mentioned.
A couple of years later I got a call from the Anti-Terrorism Squad Mumbai asking me to come to meet them with both my passports and a list of other documents. Man, I was shit scared. This was a few months after we had a terrorist attack similar to 7/11. In fact, I was contemplating not to go. My ex explained it was a bad idea. He accompanied me. The entire meeting is still hazy all I know was as I submitted my documents and passport I had tears in my eyes and blabbered about my stupidity. A kind police officer offered me a glass of water and when I calmed down he explained that he could not get into the details of why he wanted to see me but I was not the person they were looking for. For a few minutes, I sat there dazed, trying to understand what was happening, the poor guy had to come up again and explain the entire thing mentioning that I was in the clear, only then did I leave.
After five years I renewed my passport, the process was smooth but my dad’s name and the remark still exist, but I got a ten-year validity. Now my passport is due for renewal again and even though the High Court has said the Passport Officials cannot insist on a father’s name, this is only for special cases.
This incident makes a good story, but it was sheer stupidity on my part. So in June I will renew my passport and yes to read my father’s name on my passport will irritate me but I have learned to live with it.