An average Sri Lankan family consists of parents, children, grandparents, the odd cousin whom you’re not sure how you’re related to and plenty of aunties. They can be relatives of your parents, a distant cousin who is too old to be called by name, or a neighbour who frequents your home so much so that she knows where your mother hides the expensive gold bangles and passports.
Their duties and responsibilities include babysitting you and your siblings during your younger days when your parents had an odd wedding and couldn’t (didn’t want to) take you; sending over the excess cutlets; accompanying your mother when he goes to Pamunuwa to buy curtains, and of course, provide unsolicited relationship advice once you pass the age of 15. Aunties are like those ceramic dogs you find in vehicles that bob their head when it moves – completely useless but having minimal aesthetic value.
Let’s look at some forms of advice we have all received from aunties over the years.
1. Boys don’t like fat girls:
It’s told in a subtle way – like, ‘Give that other piece of cake to Akki – you don't look like you need it.’ It's much later that you come to understand hidden meanings. Or, she might suggest you wear a saree to a function and you ask her why, because you've just spent fifteen grand at Avirate for lace and satin, and says, ‘Sarees are very slimming – anyone can wear a saree and look good, aney, you will look beautiful and tall’. Tall, in Auntie Vernacular is stretching out your abdomen fat vertically.
2. Food can Solve Anything:
Now assuming you are on the ‘skinny’ side, and you’ve dealt with a breakup, she will say, ‘Ah just wait – have some watalappan and wait he will go to h*ll'; such a gem you are. It's his loss.’
You may think you’re a Kardashian with contouring, bronzing, and highlighting – but this all goes to waste with, ‘Darling, your face powder (blush) is a bit too brown for your face, noh? Boys want fair girls…’ You can even respond to the number of things wrong with that statement.
“Now Darling, the trick is to control that yapping – see how Uncle (her husband) and I are successful; I rarely talk, I only listen without giving my opinion’, which is a blatant lie; you have heard the crashing china, clanging crockery and her daily bellowing from the parapet wall next door. Aunties like this were born in an era where women were seen but not heard, but in her case, she is seen too often poking her nose in your affairs and heard gossiping about the De Silva's daughter who got married and migrated to Australia only to find that the husband was homosexual.
5. House of Fashion
‘Chik Darling – What is that old rag? Wear something proper wilu. Men need to see a girl who is properly dressed.’ How do you explain to an Auntie that this is a Boyfriend shirt from Mango and it cost a kidney and three fingers? Further, she will encourage you to wear pastel shaded dresses with hemlines that reach your knees so that the Reverend Father at your local parish will put in a few good words to your intended in-laws.
6. Career Barbie
Aunties disapprove of any secular activities that don't revolve around nursing, teaching and being a secretary. Some ambitious ones like doctors (only paediatricians) and lawyers, too. She doesn't see why you would have to work late sometimes or why the company requires anyone to work longer than 5 pm. She will then proffer the following, ‘Aney dear, you seem to be very stressed out because of work no? Lines under your eyes also. See there are other jobs you can do that don't demand so much from you. Who are those men you hang out with on the Facebook saying ‘office buddies' – not good, ah, when you are looking for a husband.’
These are just some of the things you will encounter – maybe you’ve heard worse. However, aunties are like those greasy prawn rolls; they are bad but you need them in your life. They strike a balance somehow; they are a more neurotic version of your parents who feel the need to parent you. All the same, you never forget to pick them a gift for their birthday and receive a quip like ‘aney darling, you’re the sweetest angel I know’.
With that, I end my rendition of ‘Relationship Advice from Sri Lankan Aunties’; do let me know if I’ve missed out on any. Show me some love by hitting that ‘share’ button and don’t forget to check Ms. Confidential on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter.
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