"I am Rani's son": Taking Up His Mother’s Name, Aakash Ranison Defies The Patronymic Tradition

"I am Rani's son": Taking Up His Mother’s Name, Aakash Ranison Defies The Patronymic Tradition

Aakash doesn’t have much to say about his father, whom he last saw when he was merely 12 years old. His parents separated after a few years of a very unhappy marriage fraught with domestic violence and empty promises. Having been a witness to his parents’ fights throughout his childhood, Aakash has fond memories, few and far between, of living with family. The only place that brought him joy as a child was his Nani’s house in Indore, where he was made to stay for most of the time. He understands that his mother tried to protect him from her unhappy marital union by keeping him away from all of it, to the best of her ability.

However, it was not like this from the very beginning. For a considerable period of time, the family continued to move from one place to another, owing to his father’s Tours and Travels business. But the couple’s continuous altercations eventually made Aakash averse to the idea of perpetually travelling with them. He recalls numerous instances of domestic abuse inflicted on his mother during their stay at Haridwar, after which they moved back to Indore where the couple eventually separated. And so, began his life as a boy raised single-handedly by a resilient woman, who brought him up through sheer hard work and love.

“My mother worked at a jewellery shop, where she put in endless hours everyday, and brought home a meagre amount of 9000 rupees at the end of the month. She worked hard to bring me up,” recounts Aakash.

Aakash is an indebted child. He empathised with his mother through the vicissitudes of her life. However, there came a point, when merely empathizing with somebody who had given him life, seemed lopsided, and too little in comparison. A part of him seemed weighed down by his inability to bring justice to his mother. He recalls having read a famous book by Simon Sinek called Start with Why, where the author insists that whenever you begin something new, start by asking yourself “why”. And it was this small piece of advice that made him ponder on the warrant of his name, Aakash Mishra. The surname was inherited from a man who was abusive to both him and his mother, someone he had cut ties off with a long time ago.

It was in August 2015, while on a cycling trip from Chennai to Bangalore that it finally dawned upon him. His surname didn’t define the person he was or shape his identity. He had stopped identifying with it a long time back. Instead, all he could recall was the incessant torture that was inflicted on his mother by the man whom he calls “father”. And by continuing to hold on to his name, he felt he was robbing his mother of the respect and recognition she deserved. Carrying his father’s name made him feel as if a part of him was also complicit in the harm done to his mother. So he finally made up his mind, and let it go. He remembers the familiar refrain, “Rani’s beta”, with which he was addressed throughout his childhood and young adult life. It struck a chord in him, and he decided to change his name to Aakash Ranison, aka Rani’s son, Rani being the name of his mother.

He says, “I want my name to tell my story,” further saying that, “I couldn’t let my surname dictate to me what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, whom to marry and whom not to marry.”, thereby throwing light on the patronymic tradition of our society, which treats women like an object to be passed on from one hand to another, to the extent that there remains no trace of her lineage in the family tree. It is an obnoxious erasure of identity which we, as a society, strangely seem to have reconciled with.

It had been a while since Aakash made this decision. In doing so, he has willingly excused himself from a culture which privileges fatherhood even when the father had been absent, and a far cry from a role model even when present. Finally at home with himself, Aakash lives life on his own terms and aspires to make the world a better place, reclaiming the power in the name of his mother.

You can check out his Instagram here.

Aakash has a blog dedicated to the evolution of his name and identity. You can check it out here.

Aakash Ranison is a Responsible Traveller & Climate Change Activist. He’s been travelling non-stop since the last 6 years. He loves cycling, walking, hitchhiking, trekking, and kayaking. He finds joy in photography, storytelling, and trying spicy food.

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