Though my name is Oswald Pereira, I am often called Mr Singh. That’s because my wife Reena Singh has retained her maiden name and people who know her and don’t know me, assume that the husband of Mrs Singh would be Mr Singh.
When people call our landline asking for my wife, they often say, “Mr Singh, please tell Mrs Singh I had called.” When I try and correct them and affirm that “I’m Mr Pereira,” they hang up abruptly, saying “Sorry, I think I've got the wrong number.”
The more persistent ones insist, “But doesn’t Mrs Singh live here?” When I stand my ground and assert, “Yes, this is Mrs Singh’s residence, but I’m Mr Pereira,” they hang up, after making sympathetic, clucking sounds, perhaps imagining that I must be a crackpot.
I’ve got to thank the cellular phone revolution. Now we don’t get that many calls on our landline. Callers now call my wife on her mobile phone and I’m saved the trauma of losing my identity.
I’ve only myself to blame for this identity crisis. During our courtship days, I once looked into my wife’s large, brown eyes and declared, “I believe in women’s emancipation and gender equality.” It was part of those clever lines that you say when you are dating and really don’t mean it.
But my girl friend took it seriously. A tiny tear of joy trickled down her right eye. She held my hand tenderly and cooed, “This is the kind of man I’m looking for.”
I responded by proudly puffing my chest inflated with 50 push-ups in the morning and crowed, “Count on me young lady to treat you like a queen.”
Her next line hit me like a storm. “What are your intentions, young man?” she asked firmly, releasing my hand like it were a hot potato.
Taken by surprise by the suddenness and intensity of her query, I blurted out, “Marriage, of course.”
So we were married soon enough as Oswald Pereira and Reena Singh. Soon after marriage, we got our first tiny flat on a mortgage as Oswald Pereira and Reena Singh and have since purchased a house jointly using the same Pereira-Singh combination.
The name plate outside our house bears the names Oswald Pereira, Reena Singh and (my son) Arjun Pereira. Including my son’s name was my dirty little trick. It gives me the strength of numbers.
Now door-to-door salespersons (I’m using salespersons to escape the charge of gender bias) ring our bell and ask for Mr Oswald and Arjun Pereira as Singh seems the odd one out.
Causes Oswald Pereira Supports
Equality of Women, Economic Equality