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Aunt horror

By Nickunj Malik - Jul 09,2014 - Last updated at Jul 09,2014

It was not easy to hide from them because they actually did have that invisible third eye, at the back of their heads. Nothing escaped their attention either, and no amount of training could make them mind their own business. 

They were bold creatures, fearless and brave. Every family had them in large numbers, and without asking or even praying for it, I was blessed with a truckload too.

I had a bittersweet relationship with them over the years. Who are these mysterious individuals? They are a brigade of unsung ladies related to us by heredity, genes and a strange quirk of fate. They are our Aunties and dear Lord! You can love them or hate them but try as you might, you cannot disown them. 

Dad’s sisters, mom’s sisters, parents’ brothers’ wives, their cousins, cousins of cousins, once removed, twice removed, even three times removed, all come collective clubbed under one giant-sized umbrella that spells, Aunt, in neon letters. 

You could divide these women into two broad categories: strict and stricter. They frowned over almost anything that you did. Or didn’t do. Difficult to please, they started their sentences with “don’t mind my saying this” and then proceeded to tell you things that shattered your self-esteem to its very core.

When I was younger, most of their advice to me was contradictory. So, if I was thin, I was told to eat more but make sure I don’t become obese. If I didn’t exercise, I was made to start swimming immediately but not get sunburnt because then no one would want to marry me. 

What the connection was between sunburn and lack of matrimonial alliance was never explained. But as I grew older I mastered a trick and the moment I saw even one of them approaching, I would feign illness after the perfunctory hello, and disappear. 

According to them, their own children were miles ahead of my siblings and me, in almost everything, whether it was academics or sports. Even if it was not true, we were not allowed to argue with them. It was considered impolite so we had to just grin and bear it. 

And then before I knew it, I became an Aunt myself. Suddenly I had four nephews in my basket. Being the only sister to my brothers and brothers-in-law, I was also their solitary Aunty. It was a responsible role and these little chaps looked up-to me. I decided to spoil them rotten from day one. I mean, what did I have to lose?

So we had wolf whistling competitions, spitting on the furthest step contest, marble and slingshot challenges and guns and imaginary robbers games concocted by me. I was their chief confidant, storyteller, barber and also the person with a non-stop supply of petty cash. My only caveat was that if anybody asked them how many Aunts they had, the reply had to be “one” with a smart salute executed towards me. I painstakingly trained them to do this and they performed it perfectly. 

Once a little one came running towards me and asked for a chocolate treat. His mum shook her head because it would have ruined his appetite for dinner. I was caught in a quandary. 

“I have to tell you something” he lisped.

“Yes darling”, I said, picking him up.

“You know how many Aunties I have?” he queried.

“One?” I asked smiling broadly.

“None!” he whispered furiously, before running off. 

Boys will be boys.

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