END OF AN ERA

SATURDAY, MAY 1, 2010

END OF AN ERA

Last month my aunt passed away. Well, it was like the end of an era. All we kids, my siblings, my extended family of cousins a plenty, named her “naal wale aunty” meaning aunty who lived next door. In the 60’s when going abroad was unheard of in our sleepy little town, my uncle and aunt made a trip to Japan! When they came back they had a lot of goodies with them. My lucky bro got the train set with the tracks, tunnels and bogies running on batteries. It needed half the room to layout. It was his prized possession and was off limits for everybody. There were dolls which talked and walked. Well, it was a very amazing thing to see those days and they were better than the anorexic Barbie’s for sure!!
Another gizmo that had us all enthralled was a walkie-talkie which we took to the end of the street and talked just for the novelty of it….They had the first Fiat car, first AC in our community and colorful wallpaper in their bedroom. My uncle posed for a pic with a huge thousand rupee note.Thousand rupees those days was a lot of money! For us kids it was like a magical Aladdin’s cave, literally as we climbed over to their house from the terrace and sneaked in to their kitchen on summer afternoons and plundered their fridge.
Well, I am diverging from the topic….Let me get back and focus. Uncle was a distributor of films and made frequent trips to Bombay (I won’t say Mumbai, coz it was Bombay then). My aunt wore only saris at home or while going out. Uncle brought her fancy saris from Mumbai and in that era of simple style, my aunt went the full Monty and had accessories to match all her saris. From her hair-clip and slides, to ear-rings, necklace and bangles, to bags and shoes, lipsticks and nailpaint.She was one matching lady!!
Every Friday she would step out in all her finery to go for a movie at 6 in the evening. All of us would shove each other to have a dekho at her without her knowing we were peeping toms. She was nothing less than a drama queen or a tinsel star for us and we watched her as she stepped out onto her red carpet. Then we would sit and decipher what she wore and what was matching, like gossipy old women. This was the same pattern almost every Friday-an entertainment in itself for us.
All of us cousins drove to school in the same ambassador car and one person had to round up everyone and drag them out of their homes so that we could reach school in time or the nuns would pack us back home or we had to circle the playground till we dropped. I used to ring the bell for my cousins to come down but they never came down. I had to go upstairs and plead for them to come .My aunt was a vegetarian but her kids had eggs. She had a separate set of griddle, bowl and cutlery for making omelets.
Watching this simple procedure made really elaborate was hilarious. She held the egg with a napkin and broke it into the bowl gingerly. The beaten egg in the bowl was again held with the napkin to avoid touching even a wee bit of the egg. Then onto the griddle and tossing it from afar and onto the plate is all etched in my memory like a movie scene. Finally the omelet was served and my cousins gobbled it while I screamed and shouted at them to make it fast.
In this entire milieu, my aunt would be very calm and just laugh (hehe) and say, they finished having their breakfast but now asked for an omelet, what to do? And I would be trying to grin back and hold on to my patience.This was one important part of growing up and it sure added spice to my childhood but now it has come to an end with her passing but the memories live on.

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