Conversations with My Mum’s Younger Sister

One of my role models of being an aunt is how my aunty was towards me growing up. She was young and vivacious and in my eyes stunningly beautiful especially in her saris. And she was absolutely doting and indulgent plus loads of fun like applying red Cutex (nail polish) on our 4 & 5 year old fingers, letting me sip her frozen margaritas as a teen, and so forth.

I am a much older aunt myself, but I love my nieces with every fibre of my being and just want to do right by them. Keen to enrich their knowledge in any way I can, and also to protect them. I did admit to them that I’m an obsessive, overprotective aunt and that I can’t help it. Just adore them too much.

My aunt revealed to me that she got especially close to my grandfather, her father, on a ocean trip back to Sri Lanka (they took an ocean liner then).

Her father even let her add what she wanted to in the letters he was writing back home. He let her add a postscript at the bottom. That was pretty indulgent in those times. She wanted to write some gossip about her aunt (her dad’s sister) who commented that a cup of tea tasted like rubbish water. Her mum told her no, but her dad immediately said to go ahead.

It was the most in terms of conversation that she had with him and the closest she’s felt to him. So I feel so sad for her to have endured the trauma of loosing her dad during that very trip. She was just ten years old.

She revealed that she didn’t do much cooking as a kid and was always chased out of the kitchen. I know that my grandma had hopes of sending her to India to study medicine. Luckily for her she wasn’t sent away and studied Chemistry at the Singapore University instead.

She also didn’t recall doing things like swimming in the river and in those more sexist times the girls were not given as much freedom. She did recall stealing jumbu from the trees in the back lane though. But they were not allowed to venture further away.

I think she still had more freedom than my mum and her older sister who helped with both the cooking and sewing. My mum always said her eldest sister was not only brilliant at school but also a wonderful seamstress.

But in those times they were married off relatively young at ages 20 and 23. My youngest aunt at 24. With the years the marital age rose. And in my generation many of us never got married. Out of 11 grandchildren only 5 got married and none of them were arranged marriages. It’s interesting how different the lives are depending on which era you’re born in.

About bookjunkie

Blogging about life in Singapore & recently cancer too.
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