February 24, 2018

Those Aunties

Those Aunties was first published in the 2017 inaugral edition of acclaimed literary magazine, The Aleph Review. The anthology's latest issue  is slated for release on March 4, 2018.
Congratulations, ladies, the patriarchy is officially pissed off with your outlandish behavior. Driving around, using the internet, developing skills, pursuing passions, charting careers, picking your own paramours, expecting equal rights and education and respect and independence, and woh bhi in jeans! Haram! Haram! Intelligence and ideas are not a woman’s work. No, siree. Such divine qualities are reserved exclusively for the opposite sex.

But if you think locking up misogynistic maniacs and throwing away the key would end this idiocy, solve all your problems, and answer all your prayers, allow me to piss on your parade. 

Look, sure, boys are stupid, but what about the riot police within our ranks? That sinister force hiding in plain sight — actually, it’s impossible to hide dressed like Cheetara’s country-cousin — a predator that hunts in packs, stalking its prey, stealthily springing for the kill.

Seriously, what kind of sadist calls you, Jaani, seconds before going for your jugular?

Aunties. Those aunties. 
To be fair, not every aunty is an aunty. 

Admission into the Crazy Cougar Club is carefully curated, adhering to strict and rigorous standards — no poor people, preternaturally preserved pentagenarians preferred, badly bleached locks mandatory, and a Donald Trump-esque ability to talk smack, all day, errrrday, waives the first year’s membership fees.

Honor-based self-assessments require all aspiring aunties to pen original introspective essays addressing modrun-day Auntyism’s most pressing existential concerns such as, “Why my Flipeeno is better than your Flipeeno,” “Cummaytees: Eradicating Poverty in the 21st Century” “Pir, Dum, Dars, Milaad: Spirituality of the Rich & Famous” “Foreign Investments: How To Dupe Your Husband Into Buying A Willa in Dubai” and, of course, “When Tammo Slapped Zakko At Fanno’s Fashion Fundraiser: An Insider Speaks Out”.

Naturally, such deep thoughts leave an aunty’s heart and ample bosom heaving with sachi batein and an infinite supply of unsolicited advice she’s itching to unleash on lost losers like you. 

“Beta, you should get up in the morning and make your huss-band breakfast. Boys like girls who cook. My daughter, Fifi, always makes breakfast and look how happy her huss-band is”

Thank you for assuming my marriage is crumbling. I’m not offended. At all. 

“Jaani, you look a little sick. You should wear more make-up. Fifi’s does her face before her huss-band wakes up and just look how happy they are.”

Totally jealous. 

If counseling isn’t on the menu, there’s an old-fashioned assault on your insecurities.

Jaani, is that what you’re wearing to Bubbly’s brunch?”

Of course not. Silk is for luxe-ing up laundry day.

Beta, you should never let your huss-band go out alone at night. He’ll have an affair.”

Wife, not watchdog. 

Point is, everything is an aunty’s business. Your sleep cycle, your finances, your birth control, your maids, your kids, how often you wash your hair, your pick between shaving vs. waxing, whether you’re “allowed” to go out without you huss-bund’s “permission” (because Fifi never does that). Bro, Guantanamo ain’t got squat on an aunty-style interrogation!

And, like a most-unfortunate gift that keeps on giving, The Opinionator’s well of life-altering wisdom never runs dry.

“Beta, if you don’t go to Maano’s chacha’s sister-in-law’s father’s sister, Baby’s, funeral, who’s going to show up when you die?”

*GASP!* No one to gossip, and giggle, and pretend-pray with gitaks, while my near and dear grieve? Bummer.

No offense, but aunties don’t give a rat’s ass about your opinions or your clever clap-backs, so save everyone the hassle and keep those lips sealed. Also, understand that, God forbid, should you ever accidentally express even the mildest interest in the fitna’s fabrications, an aunty will almost instantly launch into verbal orbit. 

“Hahaha, you know my fraand, Sana Sufinaz? Ackchooly, you probably don’t know her. I’ve known her ever since your Uncle was posted to Karachi in 1952. Poor thing, very middle-class type back then, but just look at her now, sitting in the sky. But she’s very sweet, you know. ”

Tell me more!  

“Hai! After this milaad, I’m off to General BJ’s wife’s tea party and then to Saffo Raddiwala’s daughter’s nikah, but you know the crowd at their events is always so…but very sweet, both of them. Honestly, I hardly go out anymore.

I wish, lady. I wish. 

Another fun aunty fact: as up-in-your-grill as these ladies are, a reigning aunty is an allergic-to-everything hypochondriac with specialists on speed-dial and a pill-box that would put Charlie Sheen to shame. 

Worse, hell hath no fury like her hygiene hysterics. Raise your hand if you’ve run into at least one prissy dame who insists on using your bathroom every single time she drops by— the powder room is a positive health hazard after all the commoners have crawled around in there — and you’ve faked a smile, escorting the germaphobe to your sacred sanctuary while pretending to give an actual fart about her one-sided jabber. 

“Taubah! Rabbo got such a terrible rash after sitting on Beeno’s cheap synthetic sofa. Thanks God, my anti-allergy, and sedatives, and muscle relaxant were in my purse. She was still red and puffy when I left, but she seemed very calm.”

Splendid work, Pablo. 

If you’re thinking now would be a good time to run and hide from the Fisaadi Phupi Federation, I have some bad news. 

They’re everywhere!

Aunties have become such a well-populated species, lifestyle magazines are struggling to cram in as many photos of women “spotting” themselves at “ess-clusive” launches, lunches, ladies nights, and lawn exhibitions as possible. 

Social media? Can’t. Even. 

Being brutally honest, though, a few of us out there are indeed morbidly fascinated by the Evil Stepsister Society and, sometimes, because we have no regard for our life, sanity, or happiness, we seek them out for spectacle’s sake.

Intrigued? Want in on the action? Cool! Just follow the Valium trail straight to the most over-the-top wedding in town and behold the bougie beast in all its botox-ed glory.

Feeling ballsy enough for a close encounter? Use the blinding glare of oversized jewels, held hostage in several sweaty neck-rolls, as your guide. Move towards the cackles until you spot a bustling throng of shrill laydiss sporting mismatched foundation.

Craning their necks in your direction, aunties have no shame in staring through you, pointing their talons your way, as they size you up. Moving in for their midnight meal, the group-gaze comes unglued, heads swiveling towards one another as they dive into a huddle.

Okay, now, take a deep breath, text your besties to inform them of your impending demise, and put on your game-face, because this ain’t your average meet-cute — an aunty’s capacity for cringe-worthy conversation is the stuff of legends. 

Hai, two daughters! Challo, hopefully, the next one will be a boy.”

The procreation police has spoken. 

For the courageous few, the way out of this godforsaken gabfest means hijacking the chatter with meaty musings of your own. Married? Whine about your “loser husband” or concoct outrageous lies about your evil in-laws. Any sniff of scandal, no matter how nonsensical, will do. Singletons, never make the mistake of mentioning her darling son. You are but a paltry peasant, unworthy of her precious prince. 

That’s your cue, brave soldier. Go forth and show them who’s boss, or forever hold your peace, because if an aunty beats you to the punch, game over.


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