(Published in The Friday Times, on August 22, 2014, retrieved from http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/the-uncle-aunty-generator/)
Picture Courtesy: The Friday Times
You know how, sometimes, you see these couples, and it’s like they were born middle-aged? You can’t imagine this Uncle ever having played gully cricket. His only part in it could have been that he was the kid peering out at the game through his window, and ran to tell the uncle-aunty whose car window or hall window broke who the culprits were. And surely, this Aunty could never have played with dolls, or got told off for “borrowing” her mother’s lipsticks and nail paint. If she ever played with dolls, she lined them all up and told them how they should behave and then asked them whether their parents had not taught them manners growing up.
The purpose of their existence on this earth is disapproval of everything they see around them. You wonder how their dinner table conversations go. Do they bond over how the world is terrible, and everyone who populates it is a Neanderthal? Or do they fault each other for the way they eat and serve and clean up? Do they compare their children favourably against the spawn of their neighbours? Or do they marvel at how their body fluids could have given rise to these horrors?
Speaking of their children – the only proof that uncle-aunty must have indulged in a biological act – one wonders how that went. They possibly had all their clothes on, called up their parents for instructions – since they likely disapprove of the magazines and literature that could serve as manuals – avoided looking at each other, mumbled to each other to hurry up and get done, before calling up their siblings to bitch about just how awful this ordeal is, and what a burden it is on good people that they must reproduce.
I’ve often wondered how these uncle-aunty types are produced. And so, I have begun observing them. It’s easy enough to spot the specimens, because they have these stock lines.
One is: “You need to change your lifestyle”. You could be anywhere between 25 and 40. The uncle-aunty coupling is anywhere between 10 and 25 years older than you. Their main source of bonding with you is your god-awful lifestyle. You’d think they’d be happy that you’re shortening it rapidly by smoking, drinking, and sleeping at the devil’s hours. But they inexplicably want you to prolong your life by giving up all that makes it worthwhile.
Another indication of such a coupling is the silent glare. You could be out with your significant other. Hell, you could be out with just any other. Nothing annoys them more than watching young people talk and laugh. Once, a friend of mine who had composed a song asked me to listen to it in his car, as he was dropping me off at another friend’s place. I loved it, and asked to listen to it once more, just before I got out of the car. “I’m so proud of you,” I said, before reaching over to give him a hug. The next moment, both of us were lit up by a beam of torchlight, and an uncle bearing the torch began to rattle his knuckles against a window. “Shall I tell your parents what you’re doing?” he barked. We were tempted to say yes. My friend had come out about being gay to his parents two weeks before the uncle “caught” us.
They can also be found in every dargah and gurdwara, waiting to jab you in the back when you have that inevitable wardrobe malfunction – when your dupatta slips a micro-inch back as you raise your face in enjoyment of the music, thereby tickling everyone’s libido with the sight of a tantalising tendril of your hair.
A favourite refrain of theirs is, “When we were your age, all this technology was not there.” It’s almost as if gadgets are singularly responsible for the decadence of the world, and you are singularly responsible for the invention of anything that ever depended on electricity. Forget the fact that more wars were fought before people had iPads with which to keep themselves occupied. This world is a terrible one, and they are glad to have lived in a simpler time. ‘Email’ might as well be a swearword. Once, I worked with a theatre director who made me bring my laptop to his house so that he could transfer my script to his pen drive, because he was too technologically challenged to download it from email. I would later discover that both his daughters and their husbands were at his place at the time. He was trying to teach me the value of choosing to drive four kilometres in the summer over clicking buttons from my air-conditioned room.
Having keenly followed these uncle-aunties, and indulged them in conversation, I have finally solved the mystery of where they come from. Inevitably, they speak about how happy their arranged-married children are, and how they did the right thing in getting them married off before they grew old enough – or smart enough – to object.
That is when you realise that the uncle-aunty generator is the uncle-aunty prototype. It’s a vicious cycle, and the world has no hope of release.