Says the young girl. Young being a subjective term. This young girl in question being in her late twenties if I have ever cut a birhday cake. I frown at her, the two frown lines cutting deep furrows into my forehead and lending credence to the nomenclature she had graciously given me.
Let me explain. I have no issues being an aunty to the child’s friends. I have no issues being an aunty to anyone who is still officially required to be in short pants. I can even stretch the requisite mandate for overgrown adolescents bordering on their late teens. I have two decades on them, it is justified. But this I draw the line at.
So I look at her firmly. “I am not your Aunty.” I say, in what I hope is a pleasant voice. “I think you have confused me with someone else.”
Of course. She had to be one of those whose craniums were built of double bullet proof steel, and I was just itching to take up the hammer. “No aunty, I wanted to ask you to please to move to side.”
This was forgivable. I do take up a lot of space. Especially when it is front of a display counter bearing any item of clothing, bags or shoes with signs bearing numbers, the percentage sign and the word discount written on them.
This was at Shoppers Stop, dear reader. And we were there, at Inorbit ostensibly for the Wednesday vegetable haul at Spencers. Which is next door to Shoppers Stop. Therefore it was but natural that one meandered into Shoppers Stop before one meandered towards the veggies. After all, what charm does a cauliflower hold over a calfskin tote on 40 per cent discount. Anyway, I digress.
The topic at hand being the indiscriminate peppering of the word Aunty, being spewed by all and sundry. Is there an age limit beyond which one is an official aunty? The first time I got called aunty, by a man with a head full of white hair and more wrinkles on his face than hair on my head, I was barely 25. Married a year. And by default, the lady of the house. So, it was a rite of passage for me when I opened the door to the doorbell laden with the symbols of my marital status, and the man actually addressed his query to me. Rather than saying, as I was used to, “Please call your mother-father.”
He began with folded hands, “Aunty, I am contesting for this ward as an independent candidate,” and thrust a leaflet into my stunned hands and continued blasely, “Please vote for me.”
I closed the door and collapsed into a heap. Then composed myself and ran shrieking to the mirror checking self under strong halogen light for sudden onset of greying and wrinkling. Needless to say, he was not getting my vote. Nor that of my husband if I could help it.
The next morning I sashayed off to the beauty salon and chopped off my hip length hair to shoulder level and never got called aunty again until I had the critter.
Then, I guess, I was officially an aunty. And I honestly didnt mind. I was also past the big 3-0, so terminology like aunty didnt bother me anymore. I was more concerned about burping and feeding schedules and milestones, so when the hair on the leg grew to cave woman levels, not to mention the facial foliage giving the husband some serious complexes, I didnt care. I was mother earth. Aunty was the least of my concerns.
And then the kid grew up and I went back to being a vain puss again. And therefore the bristling at the Aunty from someone who is old enough to be my younger sister. But then these days it is so difficult to tell ages. Like, ahem, ahem, it is so difficult to tell mine. Perhaps the offender was actually a pre-adult. In which case it would be perfectly legit for her to call me aunty.
But I am still lifting up the cheeks and checking nasolabial folds and contemplating silicone injections and pulling hair back tightly to determine whether some cutting and splicing might make me, well, less, auntyish. And examining spider lattice under eyes and slathering on under eye gel hoping for it to miraculously seep through skin cell barrier and plump out indentations caused by living. And checking out the hairline for new signs of grey popping up and grinning cheekily at me. And seeing the waistline grow to a tyre or two that could make the Michelin man proud. A lift, some Botox, some liposuction and some Restylane and I would be perfect. Not an aunty.
Nah, I know, I am a coward. I will slather on my moisturiser and pray for a miracle. And happily morph into an aunty rather than inject self with stuff and risk the face swelling out like that miserable South Korean woman who injected her face with cooking oil and ended up looking like the stuff bad cartoons are made of.
Yup, aunty. I need to roll the word around on my tongue a bit to get used to the sound of it. I guess the next milestone from here is Granma. Right? Better start getting used to that right now too.