What is it about Malayalee aunties** and their need to voice all of their observations on your (minimal or otherwise) weight gain/complexion/lack of husband/lack of baby/all of the above? I can’t tell if their lack of filter is motivated by genuine concern and well-wishing, or if they get some kind of sly pleasure from pointing out the uglies in little girls (haha not so little, but grant me some poetic licence). Also, why doesn’t the same apply to their husbands, or are uncles’ comments reserved for the boys?
In the past year, I have, admittedly, gained a few extra pounds. What with scrambling to finish a research masters degree, starting a new job, almost all of my friends leaving my city to find jobs and lives elsewhere (it’s not me, it’s them, I swear), and a few other events, I may or may not have explored my passion for cooking (and eating, and dining out) a bit too ardently. Is this extra padding crazy noticeable you ask? Well, I didn’t think so.
Rewind to December, three years after my last visit, when I went back to India for some family bonding. First of all – can I just say that I used to love trips to the motherland. I was never one of those foreign snobs who couldn’t bear the heat; I wasn’t disheartened at having to turn over my Western clothes for kurtas, I could communicate perfectly well with whomever I needed to, and I never, ever, moaned about an upset tummy. Nothing beats Kerala breakfasts, (lunches, dinners, snacks, desserts, kallu – I know this isn’t really helping my fatty status here, but it needs to be said…), the naranga vellam available at nearly every house, the shopping (special shoutout to the jewellery kada chettans and the saree shop chechi’s), and even autorickshaw rides-of-death have their charm. Added bonus of seeing your homies, of course.
However, it’s simply remarkable what a few years can change for a girl in India. On my previous visit, I was simply too young to be considering marriage according to my modern aunties, needed to focus on my studies, should never diet (‘Look at you, like a model, so jealous!!!’), but ‘maybe stay out of the sun a little bit’, but otherwise simply enjoy life.
Now, suddenly, I am almost too old to still ‘fool around’ (I really, really, don’t think they know what the term means), am not serious enough about life, I must PRAY to God for a husband (Number 2 suggestion… Request… Command? After…), LOSE SOME WEIGHT (some aunties more passive aggressive than others, ‘don’t get even an inch chubbier, molle‘), but ‘at least you are fairer’.
But I take only the positive, yo – thank God I’m not fat and dark, because THAT would have been a real tragedy [heeeaaavvvy sarcasm]. Also, I can’t wait to become a full-blown Mallu Aunty one day. MMx
*Read Indian/probably African/non-Western in general
**Aunties are generally any Indian women who are older than you by ten+ years, not necessarily family.