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We know and interact with them almost on a daily basis. In most cases, we forget their names and are dumbfounded, and forced to pretend when they call and ask, ‘Do you know who this is?’ They’re a constant and, sometimes, an unwelcome feature of our lives. They aren’t related to us, yet we refer to them as ‘Aunty’.
Like most things in life, ‘Aunties’ fall into a variety of groups, owning to their specific traits. For instance, we have the L’Oreal Aunties, who refuse to go silently into the night and continue to cling on to their youth. These elderly women usually purchase make up at wholesale and apply it with nothing smaller than a paint brush.
There are some ladies who take their ‘fashion’ sense up a notch by adding a touch of the urban. These ‘trendy’ aunties are easy to spot with their giant puffy hair that puts any African to shame. We refer to them as the Afro Aunties. If you were to ask any of the aunties ‘Why the need to be so excessive?’ their answer would be simple, ‘Because I’m vorth it…beta.’
Fashion isn’t only restricted to the older group of ladies as our community is also blessed with the Status Aunties. These breed of women are all about designer wear and making sure you, me, and everyone knows about it. Besides kindly informing us as to what brand her blouse is, she’ll also be sure to let you know its value while stating it was something she simply ‘threw on’. If not, she’ll mention that her thoughtful husband ‘Gyan’ bought it for her on their first class trip to the moon where they sat next to Shahrukh Khan. You’ll find some tend to have a superiority complex because of the money they have, claim to have, or married into. These aunties also strive to be part of the upper echelon of society, and is sure to be found at all the ‘It’ parties, making sure she’s surrounded by all the ‘It’ people, dropping names, prices and other ‘priceless’ information. Often, she’s the loudest one.
The fashion victim, ‘Yummy Mummy’ Aunties encompass a large group of ladies from the young mothers to the fifty-plus who insist on dressing like a provocative sixteen-year-old cheerleader. Most men would argue that the younger women who stay in shape, remain well groomed, and highlight their hair to high heaven, do attain somewhat of an allure. However, they fail to understand that with age, that very allure fades and no matter how blonde your hair is, ‘Sexy’ is not coming ‘Back’.
Then there is the group of women which also includes Status and Yummy Mummy Aunties, that get together to form the Kitty Party Aunties, or otherwise knows as ‘Rummy Mummies’. Besides getting together in their glitziest gear to play some pato and mastering the art of using a chopstick to drag a card, they exchange all the ‘juicy’ information they’ve gathered since their last session. You can be sure that all your personal and private information is divulged within this network of rummy experts. At the end of the session, they’ll know who wore what twice, whose daughter is seeing whom, whose son is snorting cocaine, whose husband is cheating, and which aunty uses tabs from old designer clothes on her new Marks & Spencer’s wardrobe. Scandalous!
The information exchanged at the kitty parties is usually gathered by a particular breed known as the Owl Aunties. We’ve all come across this particular type, since they are the ones who constantly ask us, ‘When are you getting married Putu? Why aren’t you married yet beta? So handsome/pretty why no boyfriend/girlfriend?’ After they’re done with you, you can expect your parents to suffer the same barrage of questions. They also tend to make a mental note of whose wearing what clothing and jewelry, and when intrigued enough, they not only inspect closely with their eyes and hands but throw etiquette to the wind and openly inquire of its quality and price. No wonder men head to the bar and stay there at social events! Their antics are not only restricted to social events for when they grace your abode, they’ll be sure to inspect everything from the paint and upholstery to your kitchen and the nationality of your maid. Beware since these aunties move with great stealth and precision when needed. For example, while standing face to face, they’ll reach behind their back and feel the texture of your table cloth while simultaneously nodding at you, leaving you clueless as to their antics. Perhaps they feel simply asking is impolite?
Sometimes, the curiosity of the Owl Aunties gets the better of them. That’s when they evolve in to the Nosey Aunties. The Nosey like to get into everyone’s business, and often ask questions such as, ‘Why did the divorce take place? Why are they closing down their business and moving? Why did the destination of the wedding shift? Why did your sister get botox?’ And so forth. Often enough, these very aunties put forth their own negative reasoning, which in turn transform into rumors that spread throughout our society. How can we not be proud of such problem-solving and upstanding citizens of our community?
The headliner at the Kitty Parties is none other then the Google Aunties, otherwise known as the SNN (Sindhi News Network). This human search engine is not only able to sniff the tiniest details, but does it at a speed that makes the internet look like a slug. If ever you want to know about a particular boy/girl’s family, she’d be the best source of information (although some of it might be skewed).
In contrast, there is a group who haven’t been seduced by the glitz and glamour of the social scene and have taken a more spiritual and/or religious path. They’re known as the Hari-Om Aunties. At times mistaken as borderline fanatics, these aunties attend almost every satsang, fast at every opportunity, and have so many havans that the mahraj gives them a discount! The annoying thing about the Hari-Om’s is that they’ll be sure to let you know all the days in the year when you have to be vegetarian. Either way, you know they are on the guest list to heaven, so better to be on their good side.
It is important not to confuse the Hari-Om’s with the pseudo Hari-Om’s, otherwise knows as the Contradictory Aunties. These are the ladies that do almost everything that the Hari-Om’s do, but still carry the traits of the other aunties. After singing their bhajans in ‘bling’, you’ll find them donning their low cut Versace top with a martini in one hand, bitching about how their neighbour is broke and her husband’s niece is cheating. Bol Jhulelal Aunty, Bol Jhulelal!
Each Yin must have its Yang and hence, an equilibrium. There is a selective group of ladies who no matter how wealthy, remain humble. No matter how small their home, their giant heart welcomes all. No matter how sick and twisted her neighbour may be, she still remains fair and just. Even though they attend social events and are dressed classy or chic, they don’t get caught up in society and its ever changing demands. These women are more enlightened as human beings and are envied only because of the respect they attain. One can only admire the Balanced Aunties.
Regardless of their traits, Aunties, in whatever shape or form provide colour in our lives, sometimes, literally. Some are role models to be aspired to while others consider themselves models. Some incessantly express faith while others ooze of hate. There are those who are victims of fashion, status and society, and then there are those victimized by society and its fickle principles. Whatever they may be, I thank you for giving me enough to write about in this article.
Finally, the Best kind of Aunty is the one with cute single daughters. You’re my favourite kind. Care to invite me over for some Chai?
About the author:
Born in Africa, Chandru grew up between Nigeria, India and the UK. With a Masters in International Business from the University of Westminster, he moved to New York where he worked as a Business Development Manager for three years. In 2002, he returned to Nigeria where he currently resides and runs a trading company. Chandru has been writing for Beyond Sindh (www.beyondsindh.com) since 2004 and has published numerous articles in the quarterly publication. His story entitled ‘The Love Letter’ won the Mirage Book short story contest and was published in an anthology titled Inner Voices in January 2009. His short story ‘Zero’ is scheduled to be published in the anthology Indian Voices towards the end of 2010.
In December 2009, Chandru’s first novel, ‘The Journey of Om’ was published in India by Cedar Books.