It actually started when I was all of nine. At that tender age, I became a maashi (aunty) to my cousin-sister’s son. His sweetly-lisped “Aunty” was the first trickle of something that has now become a deluge.
In my slim and svelte twenties, when people called me aunty (these cranks were few and far between), I reacted with incredulous raised-eyebrows: “Who are you kidding?”
In my burgeoning early-thirties, I was mortified. “OMG, what’s the matter with me?” Any stray aunty-call would make me start worrying about wrinkles, white hair and waistlines.
[CONFESSION BOX: There are two vegetable vendors near my building. The first one calls me ‘aunty’ and overcharges me. The second one also overcharges me, but calls me ‘bhabi’ (sister-in-law). I scrupulously avoid the former and frequent the latter.]
Aunty-fication, undoubtedly, IS a mortifying process. I used to regard it as the final crossing over into misshapen, melancholic middle-age. There are tons of ads (especially the hair-dye ones) where we see the lady-in-question hyper-ventilate with horror and shudder with shame at being addressed “aunty”. It seems to be the denial of desirability – of youth, beauty and loveliness.
But once I did become an undeniable, full-fledged AUNTY (with a lot of emphasis on the full), once the trickle turned into a deluge, I realized that there are a lot of advantages to aunty-hood as well. This happened a couple of years back, as I entered the mid-thirties (full-blown rather than fulsome).
For starters, I have regained my peace of mind. Resigned to my lifetime membership to the aunty-brigade, the aunty-calls no longer have the power to unnerve, irritate or depress me. If I do raise my eyebrows, it is merely to say, “Oh yeah? So what?”.
I am no longer combative, like a cousin who refuses to respond if people call her “aunty”. Aunty-hood is no more a disaster-zone or an enemy-territory that I am unwilling to enter. I have decided to accept, agree and adapt – the first step being the regaining of my sense of humour about the whole issue.
Aunty-fication has become a liberating experience. No longer do I have to bother about the MALE GAZE (for more on that scintillating subject, see my other blog here). I no longer feel compelled to dress/walk/behave as an object of male scrutiny. Since the males in question hardly notice me (Mumbai has more than its fair share of PYTs and yummy-mummies), I can wear what I want, do what I want, be what I want to be. Without caring two hoots for male approval/approbation. Ah, the freedom of it all!
And I know that when people like me now, it’s for my inner qualities rather than my outer quantities (quantity being the operative word here).
So you see, it is not about sour grapes at all (cross my heart). The aunty diaries are all about the seven steps to attaining nirvana, actually:
DEFIANCE to CONSTERNATION to DISMAY to CONFLICT to ACCEPTANCE to CALMNESS to BLISS.
What’s your take?