Theatre-person and Punjabi actress Nirmal Rishi never fails to remind me of my cherished Punjabi aunties in Singapore. I am blessed since childhood to have had the chance to interact with the Aunty Ji community in Singapore. Allow me to share the classic qualities most common in them.
Most Aunty Jis I know have….
Eyesight that is reportedly poor and even deteriorating but they can spot their nieces’ latest hairdo miles away! Their flawless long-range inspection detects shote kithe (cropped lengths), rang payeh (colored), sideh kiteh (rebonded), chooteh (wigs), or prandi naal joora kitha (bunned with false extensions)!
Clothing Material Specialists. A slight touch of the “suit” with the edges of the index and thumb fingers, detects exact quality, crumple prone, stain removable, sweat absorbant, lifespan, colour run resistance, country of origin, and even which specific retailers – Joo Chiat or Tekka – that they are bought at!
“916” Trained Perfectionists. A latest techno gadget? No, no….It’s the gold purity index! No one can bluff the Aunty Eye, the graduates of Ong Chiong and Batu Pahat Gold Smith; weighing units grams not important but “mayam” count. Gold price fluctuations need no Google but their foresight. And they remain outmost loyal to their metal; even the $10k valued precious stone is a far cry and wasted purchase as compared to the latest $3k pair of “Waliyah” earrings that stand priceless just plain on their own. And guess what the biggest “laku” or win is? The owner’s son himself was there at the shop and apart from the Yeo’s drinks packets, he didn’t charged any extra cent for workmanship!
Mundah oteh si. Changa niklya mundah odah. Chine nu sadi design sarakujh petah wah. Pio wangu ni. Mari moti gal te Dalleh lagahuga! Nikemah Jya! Poteh mereh nu lehke gayi. Hapoy hoya Orange Beta Milya Free! (The son was there. The boy is good. He’s Chinese but knows well our designs. Not like his Father-Useless. Brought my grandson there. He was happy to get free orange soft drink.)
Several are part of…
Temple Food Takeway Elite Forces. They will ask for a takeway carrier. When denied, a neatly folded plastic (planned well) appears mysteriously often described as the “last one Babaji-God gave.” Aunty Ji has already won the heart of the service volunteer who guiltily glances at the A4 sign saying “No Packing Allowed”. He looks at the next volunteer with a theatrical expression “what to do”. Aunty Ji has her script well sorted out and narrates confidently. “Your Uncle could not come because last night work late so I take for him extra. My younger son exams today whole day tuition. My daughter got dance practice for her best friend wedding.” Lucky they didn’t drag along the neighbours in their lines of justification. While the initial intention was two dish out two roti, the server allows the narrative to play in his head. As it reaches the dance practice scene, 12 pieces of roti (bread) has already been packed optimally with space for the mithe chaul (sweet rice).
The list can go on with all almost lifetime patrons of BBC News – that’s right Bebeh Broadcasting Chugliya, medical practitioners of Minyak Kapak (axe oil) remedies for every other ailment including insect bites, nausea, insomnia, muscle ache, migraine, flu, gastric, etc. They are comfort food maestros knowing exactly what to feed you when you return from your Europe holiday or the Japan tour – “Paronthay” with ghee for vitality and MCF drink (Milo Cannot Find).
Aunty Jis’ are our love and hate characters. The ‘hate’ remains superficial but “Love” overwhelming. It is in their home that you want to spend the weekend, never mind that there is no air conditioning. You know your cousins will be jealous to see that you are getting all the best things – not them! And heyyyy…you were in her script at the temple; you were sleeping in and she got your favourite Meethe Chaul while server Swag Singh was envisioning you at dance practice!
Jatinder Singh possesses great interest in culture which he studied at National University of Singapore (NUS). He currently trains students and adults in schools and enrichment centres in a range of topics; including public speaking. Jatinder also extends his flair to host and emcee events.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Eat first, pray later (Asia Samachar, 26 April 2018)