this is how children in the street greet me. "hi aunty"
when did that switch happen? when did i become old enough to be an "aunty"?
growing up desi in the states, we learned to call all elders 'uncle' and 'aunty' as a show of respect as well as a performance of kinship. i mean we all knew that we weren't related, but by some twist of fate we all ended up in that harsh white world and were bonded together as a kind of family. this meant that we had all sorts of cousins who felt as important and close, if not more, than those real blood cousin-brothers and sisters over on the subcontinent. but we weren't actually related...a strange fact that is hard to explain to people who have not had an immigrant experience in their known history.
here people grow up surrounded by people just like them. generations of people. you watch people around you grow and change and become uncles and aunties and know that one day you too will be one. not in the real biological way necessarily, but in that generic, respectful, we belong to one another kind of way.
so when i share my horror at being referred to as aunty with a few friends here, they shrug...well of course you are an aunty to a 10 year old, what else would you be? you are 3 times her age!
i guess i thought those categories were fixed. i didn't know i could grow into being an aunty. with so few desis around in those early years, i suppose i didn't realize that there were others growing to take my place as the kid and i would have to grow up. that eventually i would look as busy and tired and purposeful as an aunty.
but if i think about it, i am all of those things. and more. i worry about the details, i try to feed people more than they want, i love matchmaking....oh this is getting too scary. there's no hope...i might as well enjoy it!
(send biodatas! there are matches to be made!)