On Becoming an Aunt
New Year Post
Recently I had the fun pleasure of hosting my niece for her very first Thanksgiving in America. After her week-long stay, when I was dropping her off at the train station, she turned to me and said, “Thank you aunty for everything. I felt like I was royalty.”
I wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t thank me. She should be grateful to the woman who taught me how to be a good aunt.
There are plenty of aunties in my life. Anyone who is from India knows we call family friends, neighbors and relatives “aunty” as a sign of respect. But I have one Aunty who stands out. I’ve known her for most of my life (we met when I was six months old) and I’m the only person in California who has had the honor to be at her wedding day.
Even though I have known her a long time, our friendship/relationship really blossomed when I came over in the 1980s to attend college.
I was an insulated young girl (okay, maybe a little spoiled) but my Aunty C and I took to each other as if we were long-lost friends. We spent hours together.
“I’m bored, Aunty,” I would say and she would whisk me away to one of our favorite haunts– the local public library, Dillon Beach, the Goodwill store (her favorite shopping place) or somewhere for a sweet treat. One summer we discovered a hole-in-the-wall bakery that produced the most delicious fresh strawberry pies. Both of us loved these pies so much, she gladly bought the ingredients so I could try making my own pie. That is how I learned how to perfect my pie crust and work with mascarpone cheese. We ate a lot of pie that summer.
From Aunty I learned to love Southern literature and to make the perfect cup of strong tea. Together we navigated the college catalog, choosing the best classes and professors. We enjoyed our bittersweet chocolate, especially the truffles from Cocolat.
But mostly, I learned by observing her in action and the way she interacted with people. She taught me how to give my one-pointed attention to everyone, to listen with both ears. She never boasted or dominated a conversation. Now at 97, she is still the same–kind, gentle and still humble.
So, being a good aunty is easy for me because I learned from the best!
Happy New Year to all my readers! May 2019 be filled with books, laughter and peace.