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Most of us dislike being called aunty because of the problematic meanings attached to it. But isn't it time we accept growing old with grace?
Recently, during one of those deep, thoughtful conversations with my 3 y.o, I ended a sentence with “…like those aunty types.” I quickly clicked my tongue. I changed the topic and did everything in my hands to make her forget those last few words.
I sat down with a cup of coffee and drilled myself about how the phrase ‘aunty-type’ entered my lingo. I have been hearing this word ‘aunty’ a lot these days, because people are addressing me so.
Almost a year ago, I was traveling in a heavily-crowded bus and a college girl asked me “Aunty, can you please hold my bag?” It was the first time and I was first shocked and later offended. Then I thought about why I felt so.
I just hit my 30s then and the girl must have been 16 or so, clearly, there’s a gap of almost 15 years, maybe she’s not wrong in calling me so. To check if I am taking this in the right direction, I went back and recollected whom I usually call aunty.
I call my mom’s friends, anyone whose kids are almost my age, and all relatives, Chachi, Doddamma, Puppu everyone is an aunty to me. Did they too find it offensive or did they just get used to it? But that doesn’t make it any less offensive or is it offensive at all? And then a weird fear has grown inside me every time I address someone.
There were instances when I stopped mid-sentence judging the ‘aunty’ relevance. Is this woman qualified enough to be called an auntie? And then I carefully started using ‘Akka’.
Anyhow, the girl on the bus just blurted out the word. But to blurt out too, there should be some solid relevant factors like:
With/without her realizing she was being judgemental. So the question arises, why am I getting offended.
Why is it wrong of someone to aunty-zone me? Something deep inside me is getting defensive. Is it the insecurity of growing old, extra-consciousness about my body or is it comparing myself with others? I do not want to accept the fact that I am growing old, that someone else, someone younger is in a happy-go-lucky phase of life where I once used to be and I am becoming aware that that time won’t come back for me.
I still remember how my chest expanded with happiness when I was called akka for the very first time. I felt like I’m a leader that can show the future path to my brothers and cousins. But what’s wrong with aunty? Shouldn’t it make me feel the same?
When someone calls you aunty, they are obviously younger than you and have nothing or little something in common with you. So in a song when they say ‘aunty ji get up and dance’ they are saying don’t just sit around, instead, make some monkey moves.
And that’s just another way of saying you’re unfit and uninteresting. And that’s exactly the meaning of ‘aunty’ as imbibed in us.
A similar substitute in schools and colleges is the word ‘behenji’. If a girl oils her hair or wears churidar, she is often teased with behenji. This doesn’t end here.
Call a man uncle and be sure to get a lot of flak. In their case, it is supposed to imply that they are out of the league. It has been stamped in our minds that behenji means boring, aunty means aged, bhabhi means hot. The meaning of these words is shrinking day by day.
Recently, someone on the same bus has called me ‘madam’. Not just me, he has addressed everyone with either sir or madam.
It is then that I realized that with age comes the grace and elegance which garners respect, both to offer and seek. I may be an aunty to someone or madam to someone else, but I will always be a hero to myself.
Image credit: Still from Chutney
I am an egalitarian and strive to see it around me as much as possible. I am an avid reader, a passionate writer and an ardent fan of English language. I like to observe things read more...
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