Nobody likes being called aunty or uncle by total strangers, especially if they are closer to your age. But in India it is a common phenomenon. As soon as a young woman gets married she is elevated to this stage. For here, it is disrespectful to call anyone older by the first name and the concept of calling someone Mr./Mrs. X has still not caught on. So you are aunty to a toddler, a teen, a college grad, avegetable vendor, a doorstep salesman et al.
This poem is inspired by Duke of York’s speech from Richard ll.
So here goes, with due apologies to dear departed Shakespeare.
Aunty me no aunty, nor behenji me no behenji
I am no upstart’s aunty; and that word ‘aunty’!
In a relatively unknown’s mouth, is but profane!
Why have these strangers’ mouths
Dar’d to forge a relation?
But then more ‘why?’ Why have they dar’d to
So many times address unsuspecting women,
Despairing them with the spectre of old age and doddering countenance?
Call’st thou so because thou feels young?
Why, foolish people, I am younger than thine mom!
But still I have the power
To chastise thou for crossing the line between humility and stupidity!
Were I thou mom, I would have
Banished thee to the confines of a finishing school
To unlearn this boorishness; and learn manners
As to how to address a lady in proper fashion.