“Sisters, please fill in the gaps.”
“Sisters, please control your children.”
“Sisters, please don’t waste food or water.”
“Sisters, please don’t wash your hand with the drinking water. The water dispenser is for DRINKING ONLY.”
We had to scream that one twice. In the same night.
Ah, the wonderful world of aunties. As I mentioned before, I’ve been attending my masjid for various reasons since 1998. I’ve attended Qur’an classes, general Sunday school classes, I volunteer there for whatever events take place there, I volunteer for Ramadan, and recently, I’ve taught there and have been the glorified office assistant for the past two summer sessions. In that time, it never ceases to amaze me the wide scope and varieties of aunties I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. During Ramadan however, it seems that all of these aunties get together, plan, conspire, and execute intricate designs in which they make sure the volunteers stay on their toes. I’m sure it’s out of love and has nothing to do with the fact that they feel they are obligated to special treatment because, you know, they’re aunties.
Classic Aunti Types
While there are many aunti types, here are a few of my favorites.
Now at our masjid, we don’t have buffet lines, we actually bring the plates of food to the people, but it’s still the same. These aunties feel they are entitled to seconds, thirds, and fourths before the person next to them can even get one piece of naan. They complain when it seems the aunti sitting in front of them has a better piece of chicken. They compete with the children when pizza comes and try to find loopholes and excuses for why they are still children at heart. And God forbid you forget to put raita on their plates. Hunger games got nothing on this.
This aunti is a classic. She’s never in a bad mood and always smiling. She has quite possibly the sweetest voice possible. You can have a full, innocent conversation with her, and you won’t realize it until 30 seconds after she’s turned around and is walking away that… Hey, wait, did she just call me and my mom fat???
You know how you’re talking to an aunti, asking them how they are, how’s their health? And all of a sudden the conversation turns towards you, and before you know it, the aunti has her hand on your stomach trying to figure out why it’s taking you so long to have a family. That’s when you answer in a defeated voice, “I’m 16, still in high school, and have to take my SAT’s on Saturday.” The response is almost always, “You should hurry, the good ones don’t last long.”
This aunti is everywhere. She’s that one person in the corner that just emits a grumbling sound. “The naan is too hard.” “The water is too cold.” “The bathroom is too far.” “Her salaam wasn’t loud enough.” “Why is she smiling at me?” I used to think that all this aunti needed was some love, attention, and a hug. That was until I was told that my hugs were too uncomfortable and that I should work on my posture.
Finally, my most favorite aunti. You can usually spot her in the crowd of sisters sitting and eating their dinner. She’s the one who brings a bag of Tupperware, speed-eats her dinner, and is the first person by the food trays before we can even announce that there is extra food. On some levels I admire this aunti. It takes true skill to be able to get through dinner, mingle, chat, pack a week’s worth of suhoor, and still make it on time for Isha. And she manages to do this every night. Respect.
In all honesty, I joke, I kid, but I love my aunties. They are an endless source of comedy, drama, and entertainment. They are also a major source of possible du’as that can not be gotten anywhere else. I love it when I can manage to please any one of these aunties. If they are happy, then not only is my life a little easier, but they also pray for you with such intensity, it’s humbling. It’s kind of amazing at how much gratitude a person will give just because they got food.
Do I wish they had a little bit more tact? Do I wish they would be a little less degrading when barking orders? Do I wish they would stop washing their hands at the water dispenser? Well, obviously yes. But, they are our elders after all, and with that comes a given respect that you don’t see anywhere outside of Islam. We’ve all heard the story about the Prophet (saw) and the mean old lady that would throw trash on him when he was walking everyday. He could have easily just not cared when one day she wasn’t there to throw trash and curse at him. Instead, he went to go check up on the lady and see if she was alright.
Granted, we are nowhere near the Prophet (saw), but isn’t he our end goal? I’m not saying let the aunties abuse you, but maybe you could figure out a way to not be in a situation where things might get ugly. Because I know I have a temper, waning patience, and a big mouth, this year I’ve done my best to send in other people when things need to be said or done. I try not to yell unless my unmatched volume is required. It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s better than having fifty aunties curse at you in fifty different languages (At least we have a diverse mosque). I’m trying to work on my shortcomings. Til then, I hope I can at least figure out the most diplomatic response for when I run into that aunti that despises every aspect of my life choices.
A point that my spell check gladly points out, I realize that it’s spelled aunty. However, I’ve always thought there was a difference between an eastern aunty and a western aunty, which I distinguish by the misspelling. Let’s call it a creative touch.