Anumeha, the Texas Pension Review Board's new interim executive director, expects one question from airport security every time she flies.
“What is your first and last name?” The answer? She's just Anumeha.
Growing up in Dehar, India, in the 1980s, the caste system was still “very deep rooted,” said Anumeha in a telephone interview. Surnames revealed the caste or social class to which a family belonged.
Refusing to subject her children to stereotypes associated with caste, Anumeha's mother decided her three children would not take their father's upper caste surname, Bhardwaj.
While her driver's license has a period where her first name would be printed, hence her troubles at the airport, her Social Security card, plane tickets, immigration papers and most credit cards read, “Fnu Anumeha.” The acronym for “first name unknown” is used by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. Anumeha immigrated to the U.S nine years ago.
Ensuring documents are consistent can be challenging, Anumeha said. “I had to get my Social Security card fixed because they were not in communication with immigration,” she said.
Despite these hurdles, Anumeha said she is “fine with just having one name and explaining to everybody why.”
She even chose not to take her husband's last name, Chaudhary, to respect her mom's wishes.