“EXCUSE ME AUNTY”!! The words stung like a bee; hit like a tonne of bricks; pierced like a bullet!! Oh! actually the feeling is hard to explain. My fragile youthful ego had taken a major blow and it was badly bruised. The reaction was – first of disbelief, then anger and then helplessness at being unable to do anything about it!!
Actually it was the first time for me that someone was addressing me, yes ME! the young 20-something ME, an Aunty?!?!? This was blasphemous! How dare he!?? What the hell?!! This person has to be insane to call me an aunty!!!!! He is probably out of his mind or needs an immediate eye check-up! Can’t he see my slim and youthful looks, I definitely don’t qualify to be tagged an ‘Aunty’!! Ridiculous!!
(No grudges against the Aunty community – non, whatsoever – but it somehow elicits in my mind the stereotypical image of an Indian Aunty – overweight, well-oiled hair, loud, brash, intrusive, and old-fashioned and i don’t fit into any of this)
It was actually he who looked like an Uncle!! (Now am I being cheeky? On second thoughts, he probably deserves this!!) May be it was his tactic to make me feel miserable which is what he probably himself felt and experienced daily. He had a paunch, looked like he must have fathered at least two kids and he had the cheek to call me aunty!! I was going mad over his words. But I pretended not to have heard him but when he again called out, louder this time – ‘AUNTY’, I swallowed my pride and looked around me to drive home the point to him and then looked at him. ‘What is the time?’ I felt like telling him that time is really bad for you coz your bad time is about to begin. I felt like boxing his face.
To make matters worse, my hubby, who was along with me, had this very amused and funny expression on his face (he was trying to stifle a laugh). The moment the man left that place, he was rolling with laughter. He started aping the man’s words and teased me to no end!! By now I was livid but in my anger words fail me!!
Just a day back I was ‘DIDI’ and a few hours into marriage and I was ‘AUNTY’. Absolutely unfair!! The reason why I qualified to be called an Aunty by the fellow was that now I was a married woman!! And in India, the day you get married, wear the vermillion in your hair; sport the mangalsutra around your neck and sari as your attire you automatically get escalated to the level of the jagat aunty i.e. universal aunty. You are every Tom Dick and Harry’s aunty!!
Even after ten years down the married life and with an eight year old daughter, I am still not comfortable with the tag of Aunty bestowed upon me. I cringe inside when 10th graders, who are more than double my proportions and who actually fit the bill to be called an Aunty themselves, address me Aunty as they greet me. I find it so unjustified!! And how much I may want to disown this tag and dislike being called an Aunty, it seems to have become the master status of my identity.
Every time someone addresses me an Aunty, my husband gets cheap thrills out of it which bugs me even more…ggrrrrr… But now I have, sort of, started the process of trying to make peace with this label which has been assigned to me and which, I know, I can never shake off ever.
Currently, hubby and I look for opportunity to outwit each other, actually you can call it one-man-up ship. We keep a tab of how many times each one of us got addressed as Aunty or Didi and Uncle or Bhaiya. The moment a street or kiosk vendor spells out the word ‘Aunty!’ for me (I fail to fathom why in the world they have to address all married women Aunty even though they themselves are middle-aged grandfathers), my hubby knows that the fellow just lost out his potential customer because he just addressed me an Aunty!! This has become our favourite past time of sorts (to have a laugh at the other’s expense) or rather a defence mechanism if you wish to call it that!!
Though, I should compromise with the fact that now I am inching towards 40s and teenagers are apparently justified in calling me an Aunty but what to do – ‘Dil Toh Bacha Hai Ji’!!!