Thursday 21 May 2009

In Celebration of Aunty R

I was walking down the road (very original beginning, I know) when I saw a familiar little figure – Aunty R!! Of course I dodged through traffic and ran down the road after her. In her usual way she greeted me with hugs, praise and chatter and I invited her to join our guests for dinner that day (especially knowing it would annoy the heck out of everyone in my family).

I met Aunty R when an old family friend told us that his friend’s mother was visiting from America and needed to lodge with a family while she was here. We had the room spare so we agreed and were introduced to a beautiful, very dignified, middle-aged woman.

This was just two weeks after Little Man was born and the better half had to travel to the north of the country for a few weeks. I wondered how I would manage without him, but of course, for every difficulty Allah (SWT) sends a solution. In this case the solution was Aunty R. Aunty R is not your typical aged middle-aged desi aunty. Although I was a little intimidated at first by her well-dressed, polished and rather posh (to be honest) demeanour, it wasn’t long before I found her to be vivacious, sociable, mischievous and very irreverent. My grandmother was living with me at this time, and the two women got on like a house on fire with Aunty R announcing my gran was a replacement for the mother she lost as a child and my gran taking pot-shots at her behaviour. The two read Quran together both correcting each others pronounciation and mistakes with further mis-pronounciations and mistakes of their own.

Aunty R was one of these eccentric ladies who grow up rather well off and marry into wealth only to find themselves in difficult circumstances later in life. Imagine the eccentric old English aunt in her mansion which has gone to seed – then imagine the Pakistani version.

She could not cook, get her laundry done properly or fill out a form correctly, so in exchange for me doing these things, she taught me to set out a tray, turn leftovers into a gourmet meal (I have never met anyone who could cheat at cooking so much), take something you would throw away and re-create it into something that would impress guests visiting for tea or take a gift and make two out of it (she once had a big perfume set, she removed the perfume and replaced it with a candle from my front-room and gave the set to one friend and the perfume in a chiffon pouch to another). Did I mention she was amazing at taking a messy room and setting the furniture out again so that it looks wonderful?

The best thing though was her naughty sense of humour; making fun of her relatives, doing impressions of my neighbours and taking pot-shots back at my gran under her breath. She also had an endless supply of stories about Bollywood and Pakistan’s equivalent Lollywood (no I am not joking) that kept me enthralled, including the one about visiting a studio and watching Rekha put her leg on a make-up mans shoulder and getting painted white with a paintbrush and foundation. So you can imagine I didn’t miss my husband as much as I should have whilst he was away.

The only problem was that she was very cheeky, fairly liberal (not in a western way, but by Pakistani standards) and had a honey-coated tongue which flattered everyone and the one thing that get’s my husband’s back up is flattery. Couple this with the fact that we are a fairly conservative family and my parents, in-laws and husband all took a decided dislike to her. So it wasn’t long before excuses were made and Aunty R had to find somewhere else to stay.

That didn’t mean that we couldn’t still be friends and of course, that didn’t mean I couldn’t invite her back to cause mayhem every now and again…I don’t think my mother-in-law was very impressed that evening!!!

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