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There's Lots in a Name

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.     

8 Comment count
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I get something similar when

I get something similar when I'm traveling outside the U.S. People tend to call me Mrs. Sheeley. They automatically assume I am married and my last name is my (nonexistent) husband's. It's difficult to correct because many languages lack a word equivalent to Ms. I don't like to get testy about it because I can tell people mean well and are trying to be respectful.  But, privately, it kind of grates. Why do I have to be defined by my marital status?

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Married Mister!

Ellen, I understand how annoying it can be when people look at everybody as stereotypes. People don't look at a person as an individual with choices but more like products of a social system that isn't really evolved. In this mindset, it is presumed that every woman after she reaches a certain age is a Mrs.

It's rather strange that an unmarried woman is a Miss (Ms is like a safe word for either Miss or Mrs.) A married woman is a Mrs. But a man, married or unmarried is a Mr. Shouldn't a married man be something of a cross between Mr and Mrs? Perhaps MMR or Married Mister!

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No, I think the men have it

No, I think the men have it just right.  One title for all situations.

It's socially quite awkward to correct someone who calls me Mrs.  If I let it go, others pick up on it and perpetuate it.  If I correct it, to some men it is an indication of my availability, and that makes me feel really vulnerable.

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You are a strong person

You are a strong person, Ellen. Therefore, I am sure that the behaviour and attitudes of some odd men shouldn't bother you much.

 Being married or unmarried is an individual choice. Among my friends are women who have chosen to stay unmarried and they have never regretted their decision. One of them who chose this status, adopted an orphan girl a couple of years ago. And she is as proud a mother as any woman with a husband.

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In my country, the divorce

In my country, the divorce rate is so high that a lot of people just decide not to marry in the first place.  Others simply don't find a person they'd want to spend the rest of their years with.

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Sweet Valentine, taking away anything but my name!

I anyway like your courtship blunder lol...."it was part of those clever lines you say when you are dating and don't really mean it."..Did cost you your name yeah? Atlast,Arjun did save the grace!

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The silent communicator!

Sumathi, that courtship blunder has made me very  careful with what I say. I don't say what I don't mean, lest I get snared in my own trap again. But since my psyche is such that I mostly don't mean what I say, I have ended up saying very little. But this has been to my advantage as people think I'm the strong and silent kind of a guy, who doesn't speak without reason.

My wife naturally knows the secret of my silence. I communicate with her without words after that traumatic courtship experience. You know how we Indians have mastered the art of shaking our head up, down, sideways (left and right) to communicate. I'm the most skilled Indian in that art. I've created a record in silent communication.

But I've found solace in writing. You can write a lot of rubbish and get away with it by saying it is only fiction.

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Silent communication does

Silent communication does wonders! All unsaid things can be said through that. Of recent I am at it too. But writing does preoccupy one, no doubt, that there is no room for gibberish. But you know better that when one really gets down to writing one can't simply write rubbish, against the conscience. Fiction writing yeah, we can walk away with it. Shaking head is a general practice, where one can escape from commenting.