The five lettered four letter word

It is a word we women dread the most. We try to avoid it yet there’s no escaping it. Many of us have learnt to live with it, accept it as our final destiny.

I vividly remember the day when I first heard this word. Of course, I had been using it all my life but someone using it in my context caught me unawares. I was barely 24, married for just over a year. It was a usual weekday morning until the door bell rang. Outside stood our neighbor’s teenaged son with yet another missive from his overbearing father. “Aunty, your cooler is………”


My entire neuro-sensory system stopped responding. My world came crashing down. All I could hear was the sound of my sobbing heart. “Does he think I am old?” “Have I aged overnight?” “Is this the end of my youth?” “Why me??” I was an anguished soul seeking answers from anyone who cared to listen.

We Indians are a congenial lot and we take the adage “the world is a family” rather seriously. All our lives we are constantly forging new relationships. The sabziwalla, raddiwalla , gaswalla are our long lost brothers, so we address them as “bhaiyya”. Men and women in indeterminate age groups are relegated to the category of “Uncle” and “Aunty”. Names are meant for family members and fools. “Uncle, can you please not park your car in front of my gate!” Aunty, your pesky son has been hurling live bombs in my balcony yet again!”

Of course there are times when people do not take kindly to this term of endearment. Like our 50-something landlady of a house we lived in a decade back. She turned vivid shades of blue, red and green when I tried to forge this loving bond with her. She let out a woeful litany on how the whole universe was ganging up against her youthful self. Even 70-somethings at the Mother Dairy booth were clamoring to be her nieces. Empathizing with her, I hurriedly swallowed my ‘aunty’.

The same wronged lady, however, had no qualms in addressing my parents, barely a few years older, as “Uncle and Aunty”. That left me literally fuming. Anti-ageing creams be damned, these magic words are enough to make you feel younger, as long as you are the one hurling these at others.

My age has always been subject to a lot of speculation. Since the age of six, I have always managed to look younger than my age. Of course, now I take it as a compliment. My 30’s were plagued with a tussle between “didi” and the dreaded A-word. The younger lot insisted on addressing me as “didi” while their parents wanted to consign me to aunty-dom. I have had instances of a stray sabziwalla trying to aunty me up, only to be met with the iciest of glares. Thank god, looks don’t kill.

Gently introduced to my 40’s now (that took guts to put in print), I am finally in the reconciliation stage. I still get mildly outraged when a college type kid addresses me as Aunty. Old habits are hard to get rid of, especially vanity.

My 15-year old daughter gets even more livid when people gush about us looking like sisters. “Do they think I am old?” “Have I aged overnight?” “Is this the end of my youth?” “Why me??” she asks anyone who cares to listen.

Life indeed has come full circle for me.


  1. I ve probably said this before somewhere, but - it happened to me too.Age that is.

    one day while returning from office, some young boy must be in his early twenties was passing by and asked "uncle time kya hai?" spontaneously I looked back...but to my horror there was no one...that's when i realized i have to live with being wiser now.

    though some part of me, doesn't really want to go back to 20's - there were lot many things i couldn't do back then that I can do am happy being wising every day..

  2. The first time always comes as a shocker.

    And I agree , happy where I am , wouldn't want to go back to my 20's...just too stressful

  3. haha i just chanced upon your blog..must say it was funny..'aunty' for women n 'uncle' for men are equally dreaded by respective sexes :)
    i remember when two very gorgeous girls asked me the directions to the university( and i was a podgy senior student, but young definitely!) addressing me as 'uncle'

    I was taken aback then, but once we accept it as a part of life, people getting older, younger people stepping in as cyclical, then guess things are OK :)

    my blog link:

  4. Aw , next time someone dares to address you as Uncle, give them the dead fish look.

    It always works:)

  5. there was this soap on TV, where this lady hated being addressed as aunty. Everyone would scream "Pooja Auntyyyyy" and she would angrily retort, "Aunty mat kaho naa..."
    The show was so popular, that I would get teased too, owing to my name when I was merely 10-12 yrs old.. it was so damn annoying...

    i can totally understand your annoyance, not because of this incident of course, but just to be addressed in a way that makes you feel old..

    sorry for this long comment, but one more instance came in mind. My 50 year old neighbour insists on people my age (around 20yrs and younger, say babies :P) calling her didi or just by her name, whereas she calls my mom, and the other mothers who are her age aunty. whom is she kidding? But she's a wierdo, can't complain :D.

  6. barely a month into my 23rd year, I already dread the U-word thanks to an receded hairline which is in the family! I am avoiding places where there is a chance that I can run into kids who don't know my age!

  7. the moment you get married, your status changes and you become the inevitable aunty. it is a mere form of respect n by children which is mostly given to a married woman .so a 19 years old married young woman automatically becomes aunty to all the kids around
    first time on your blog
    loved your style and expression

  8. @thoughtfulrandomness: People and their complexes...hate it when we are at the receiving end.

    @gtoosphere:You can't avoid them all the time. Think of a cool retort to throw them off the track.

    @anjugandi:Ahh 19 is too young to get married.
    And thank you :)

  9. one feeling both men and women hate ......

    once i was playing the Noida Stadium when this kid asked me pass him the ball "Uncle ball dena" i was like...."abbe main tujhe uncle dikhta hu.....chal Bhaiya bol nahi toh ball nahi dunga....." man i was just i don't look mature but it's just that everybody is so into calling "undeterministic aged" people as Uncle and Aunty........

    ther was another incident with one of my teachers....He was traveling in the Delhi Metro....when a old person came in front of him....and he asked him "Uncle, thoda side hona mujhe uttarna hai" that old person (may be in his 60's) kind of shouted(In his haryanivi accent) "Angrez chale gaye par ya Uncle Aunty ko yaha chod gaye......ab toh koi Tau ya Chacha kahta hi naa hai....sab Uncle he kahve hai......" though this may sound funny but according to my ....Teacher...the old man was dead serious that time.........

  10. @ Hitesh: Age is but a state of mind, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter,

  11. in my company bus, there are several old persons to me, but they feel disgusting to hear uncle...
    i don't know why?(as they must be uncle of some child)

    bt me too shocked when some kid crossing by me asked : uncle where i can have blank cd?

    i am stil not able to digest this word as i am still in early 20's.

  12. A rose by any other name smells as sweet as the Bard said. So I am quite philosophical about this. Call me whatever you will but I am I.

    BTW, I have youngsters as old as my kids calling me by name while also those just 10-15uears younger addressing me as 'Aunty' and others who call me 'didi'!! But I must say we Indians have this thing about not calling anyone their names!! :P

  13. :D I am told I look younger than my younger sister. And I am not allowed to tell her that. :')


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