I dread meeting aunts. My own, my friend's, even my neighbour's. Infact every lady I can call an aunt. Especially the aunts who've known me for a while. For they seem to be united in a singular, incessant urge to constantly size me up, dampen my spirits and throw me into a virtual wastebasket, every single time I meet them.
Its always about how I have become darker since the last time they saw me (the consistency and regularity with which this is thrown at me, a casual listener, who had had the misfortune of overhearing those words atleast half the time they were uttered, would think I resemble a darker shade of charcoal) OR how Ive become fatter (which is quiet disconcerting to hear, me being the ordinary girl-next-door who'd freak out at the mere thought of not being able to fit into my favorite jeans) OR about how Ive become thinner (no, not the attractive kind of thinness, the thinness that’s generally associated with malnutrition and undernourishment, if you get my drift).
The only way Id be emboldened to confront an Aunt is with the prior sound knowledge (from a trusted critic) that such opinion (which most often is one or more of the afore mentioned three), whatever the intent might be, are not true. Aunts are one species I steer clear of when I am feeling low.
Annoyingly its never about my job, my studies, my choice of friends, my hobbies, the books I read or any of the variety of other things which could be commented upon. Not that I fair better in those, but comments on those would've made sense. On second thoughts, no it wouldnt have made any sense, but atleast Id have a respite from the monotonous topics of my the skin tone and weight.
And no, Im not mature enough to discard those distasteful comments with a flick of my intellect or a rebel enough to label them old fashioned. (I admit doing the latter, though not with the requisite amount of gusto).
So what seems to be my only consolation is that I am, by no means, alone in this misery.
I distinctly remember the way a friend of mine, who was blissfully lost in the passing scenes outside the train window, franticly started searching for face wash, lotions and eye liner the second she received a message that her aunt would pick her up on her arrival at the station instead of her parents. Another friend of mine absolutely refuses to go to her aunt's unless she looks preped enough to attend a photo shoot. Expensive cloths, make up and all. Another would give up the shopping trip that was planned days ahead just because her shopping companion would be her aunt who wouldnt miss the chance to draw her attention to the pimple that managed to wriggle out over night. Can you imagine that? Canceling a shopping spree for the scare of what her aunt would do to her peace of mind? Such was her trepidation. I for one would think twice (or more) about visiting my aunt when Im wearing anything thats remotely western. Even if its raining cats and dogs, me stranded with no means of transportation whats so ever and miles away from any decent civilisation other than my aunt's which, to emphasise my discomfort/disinclination at having to visit her attired as I would be, would conveniently be a stone's throw away. Suicidal, really.
Theres one another incident which somehow refuses to slip from my memory. I cannot judge the relevance of such an incident to the present theme of my rambles but there does exist a common thread, yea, an aunt. It so happened that I and a couple of my friends decided to meet this friend's aunt, for what reason I cannot recollect. On reaching her home, we were told to await her, for she had gone on some errand. On her arrival, and after the initial widening of eyes and exchange of pleasantries, she pointedly stared at each of us, few seconds at a time, in a somewhat awkward silence. After what seemed a considerable amount of time, she announced, pointing her finger at one my friends (no, not her niece), that the accused was the prettiest of all. Well, you neednt be a woman-psychiatrist to know the effect of such a pronouncement on us, not to mention her niece (who, to her credit, did put in some effort at looking her best that day). Neither of us discussed the incident later, but Im pretty sure that each of us had something cheeky enough to say to the aunt the minute she passed her judgement. Each of us other than the 'prettiest-of-all' ofcourse.