I love the English language unabashedly, almost as much as I love my mother tongue, Hindi.

I think as fluently in English as I do in Hindi. I speak it fluently and write it better. Someone once asked my mother very seriously if she laughed in English. She solemnly told him that she certainly did. I hope that kind of tells you where I am coming from.

Do I love the language because my mother loved it? Perhaps. Or it could be because the language has been the biggest enabler in my life. I have met people all over the world- in the pages of the books they have written, the songs they have sung and in their interactions in the digitized world. I have even learned the wisdom of my own culture because of this language. This last doesn’t make me too happy, but truth will out.

Its rules are irksome; it is true. But like the loud, eye- assaulting waistcoat of a beloved, impossibly rich, childless uncle, boasting a mate whose headgear would make you jump happily in front of a speeding train, you accept them as your own. The rules are annoying, but they belong to you. Just like the aunt and uncle.

Accepting the odiously confusing rules is all very well. I must, however, emphatically draw the line on the aunt- or uncle. Eccentricity of apparel is one thing; but this is mere abuse!

If you are feeling a tad sand- bagged at this sudden veering away of topic, hang in there. It’ll come together in season. Trust me.

It is time, I thought to myself, that a strongly worded protest was let lose on the community. Here goes, therefore.

Why is English so unimaginative when it comes to describing relationships? Everybody and their aunt dog is an aunt. All progeny of said aunt( s) are cousins- male and female alike. I suppose we should be grateful all uncles are not called aunts too..! Thank you for your mercies Lord..!

In India, we have different flavors of aunts and uncles. If you are my mother’s brother, you called one thing. If you are my father’s brother, I’ll have to ask you if you were older than my father or younger before I identify the name of your relationship with me. My mother’s sisters are a different flavor of aunt from my father’s sisters.

Every ‘in-law’ spouse of my differently flavored aunt and uncle also has a distinct relationship with me. There will never be a confusion between my maternal grandparents and the paternal ones. Each of them have their own distinct place. All my cousins can bask in their own private bit of sunshine. I wonder if it is because India is a sunny land. Hmmm….

In English though, you have this very messy pot in which you throw in all flavors of aunts making them virtually indistinguishable from each other. The uncles languish in another sullenly bubbling vat. As for cousins, don’t let us even go there. The gruesomeness would just put me off my food for years.

I’ve never been a fan of ‘one size fits all’. How dull it is… how boring… how perfectly TAME! I wouldn’t at all be exaggerating if I told you with my customary candor that I find the thing obnoxiously offensive. Give us a bit of respect here. Give an unambiguous name to our relationship. Let us, I beg, have some dignity.

Don’t lump us all together and call us aunt!

Picture from Google Images
Picture from Google Images