Does ‘Siblings’ Mean Only Blood Ties? My ‘Adopted’ Aunt Was Heckled…

If a man and a woman feel close ties to each other, why do others necessarily see it as romantic or sexual only?

My dad first met Nilu pishi (bua/aunt) at his workplace. He was, at that point of time, the branch manager of the bank where she was a regular and prestigious client; prestigious because her father-in-law was a renowned physician and the family affluent. And two, she taught history at a college affiliated with Delhi University, with her salary account being posted in that branch.  

They had good chemistry from the very outset – a  common syndrome that  occurs when folks speaking the same vernacular meet in any alien city. Moreover, at that point of time, she was rather distraught. She had married without her papa’s blessings. Therefore he had not only disowned her but also snapped all ties with her. On top of it, her mother who supported her throughout— and consequently was kicked out by the irate patriarch—succumbed to cancer.

So there she was – abandoned, lonely and devoid of kin. Moved by her tale of woe,  Dad gave her a  pep talk to make her feel better. Deeply touched she requested him to be her dada /big brother (she  had no siblings).

Dad agreed and thus a lifelong bond of affection was forged.  Nilu pishi became a frequent visitor to our home with her spouse and infant son in tow. She jelled very well with my mother whom she endearingly called  boudi/bhabhi . We also visited them whenever convenient. Over the years, she grew fond of me because she had yearned for a daughter but had none. In turn, I felt closer to her than to my own aunts.

Alas, this emotional tie-up didn’t go down well with the rest of the family. Benu, the oldest of dad’s three sisters took to making snide remarks, “Dada does not love us anymore or else why would anyone make a sister outside the family?” she taunted. Tutul a cousin and a bosom pal would chip in,  “Dada’s gone bonkers;  with so many sisters and female cousins around, why else would anyone acquire extra baggage?” she concluded.

However, the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back was a vitriolic remark from my brother’s wife who joined the family bandwagon many decades later. She met pishi very briefly only once. Heaven knows what went on in her mind but on one occasion during a  tiff with dad she exploded, “Look here old man,  you are a womanizer;  you lusted after Nilu pishi because she is good-looking (she actually hailed from a handsome family) but considering your age and marital status you made her a ‘sister’. Now it’s easy for you to make passes at her huh?” She added after a pause, “Sister my foot. She is your girlfriend. Period.”

Dad was too shocked to react Tears streamed down his crinkled face.  Likewise, when pishi got wind of this, she too shed bitter tears.

In retrospect, now many years after both dad and pishi  have  gone to   their graves, I still can’t  figure out how humans can stoop so low and  defile a pure, unblemished relationship that enjoyed the support and  approval of their spouses and children.  After all, as they say, Truth  is  stranger than fiction.

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Am a trained and experienced features writer with 30 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...

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