Weddings are every unmarried brown girls worst nightmare. There is something very annoying to brown aunties about a single, carefree brown girl. There is an insistence to get us hitched and miserable so we can chime in about spring cleaning and how our husbands always seem to bite into that one elachi pod in the biryani or whatever it is old aunties and married women supposedly bond over.
On the other hand, weddings are every brown parent’s matchmaking dream. Like most traditional (heteronormative) South African Indian households, the topic of boys was taboo for me growing up. God forbid I ever even mentioned the name of a guy in one of my classes to my parents. But now that I’ve graduated and I’m still single, my mom is on a mission to get me hitched. And nothing fuels my mom up more than banding together with other Indian aunties at a wedding and ambushing unassuming women like myself into marriage plans. Single, brown girls who are not planning on getting married any time soon, I feel you. Here’s how to deal with the aunties forcing their ideas of attachment down your throats.
Now, my main advice is to avoid the aunties especially when they approach you in herds. Try to avoid the uncles as well because they can take you by surprise and sneak in some unwanted comments. I suggest you stick to people in your age group or younger because it’s generally the safest. But the aunties (and uncles) are sometimes unavoidable especially when it’s dessert time and you’re eyeing the gulab jamun and masala tea on the tea table. In the case of unavoidable contact, there are some comebacks for the comments.
“When is it your turn?” Prepare to repeatedly get this comment. Even if you have never seen the aunty in your whole entire life, she will will feel entitled to put this question to you. Now there are two answers to this: the easy one is “insha Allah” (God willing) or a variation. This is a socially acceptable answer because you’re basically saying it’s not in your control, when God wills it then it will happen. But if you have time and patience, you can answer, “when I’m ready”.
Contrary to popular belief, all brown women are not born with the innate desire to get married as soon as they finish school. Some brown women have career goals or travel plans or lives that they want to live unattached to a husband. Some brown women – believe it or not – don’t even want to get married at all.
If you answer with “when I’m ready” get ready for a barrage of other questions and comments.
The favourite comment if you answered with “when I’m ready” is: “If you wait too long, you won’t be able to grow up with your children.” I suggest you take a deep breath with this one. It’s a real jump. I’m sure you’re thinking: Who said I wanted children? Are you assuming that the minute I get married I will be popping out three to five children? What if I can’t even have children? How is this any of your business?
Instead you could always cite expenses and say you couldn’t afford it anyway in Cyril’s economy. You could say that bringing more people into the world is taking a toll on the environment and is not really sustainable in the long term. Or you could say that the current socio-political climate is not looking good for children especially with the rising intolerance that comes with the rise of right-wing politics.
Besides, I’m pretty sure this aunty means you need to get married to have children. And you’re not married, so…
If the aunty doesn’t hit you with the children comment she will definitely say: “If you’re too picky, all the nice boys will be taken.” At this point you could really engage her. Who are these so-called nice boys? Are we talking about Mohammed from Crosby who lives on his mother’s couch playing Fortnite and only ever stops to order his mother to bring him tea? Because no thank you. Anyway, why are these aunties always painting marriage as a race? You can just tell her that you have faith that God created a really nice boy for you and you will meet him when the time is right.
Now these are still calm questions, some aunties can get hella aggressive. They like to say: “don’t come with all your modern ideas/ feminism – you need a husband to sort you out.” At this point I like to pretend to see someone and abort mission because I know because I hate this comment. But if you’re still waiting in the queue for the barfi then you could give her a short crash course in feminism. No aunty, being a feminist does not mean you don’t ever get married. Being a feminist means having a choice about the who, what, where, how, and if of marriage. If getting married means giving up my own values, then no thank you. You’re really not selling it.
Another classic comment comes from the senior aunties who like to say, “Before I die, I want to see you married.” This is simple. Just say: “What if I die before you die?” There’s no comeback to that.
And the last, when they can see you’re annoyed or upset is: “I just want the best for you, I care about you.” At which point you say: “Only God knows what’s best for me but thank you so much!”
Because Lord knows this aunty has no idea what’s best for you.
(Don’t get me started on married girls my age who are trying to convince me to join the dark side. That’s another column for another day.)