Single in the City: From 'Didi' to 'Aunty'

Shobana Vetrivel   |   September 5, 2014 


I was traveling by metro and at a busy interchange seats became vacant and as I began to sit on an empty seat, a college student looked at me and said, “Aunty, can you please shift?” I was too shocked to even move for a minute and then quietly shifted to another seat.

I didn’t have anyone to whine and grumble with at that moment so I did the next best thing, update my Facebook status! Now I have been called ‘aunty’ many times, by almost all of my friend’s children, by most of the early teens I know and a few others here and there. In fact, I really don’t mind being called ‘didi’ (sister) which is so common in our country as a mark of respect. And just a week back, I was out for coffee with someone who asked me my age and when I confessed it, she said I look like I’m in my early twenties and like a college student.  I beamed with joy as I’m used to hearing that a lot. But now a college student called me ‘aunty’ and so somehow a shift had begun from "didi" to "aunty" without me realizing it.  It was a rude jolt!

I really don’t want to go back to my teens or my twenties because I’m enjoying my thirties far more and feel more comfortable with who I am. I know myself better now and I don’t want to turn back the clock. But turning the clock forward is unsettling.

Why am I so apprehensive about getting older and about my age in general now? I hardly ever openly say how old I am till I’m asked and it doesn't fall off my lips easily. Maybe because I’m single and I think people may wonder, how on earth is she still single? What’s wrong with her? But I have a sneaky suspicion that may not be the only reason; growing old seems to haunt people across the board.

So I guess the challenge is to accept that I am going to grow older; I will have to confess my age as I turn 40, 50, 60 and so on for however long I live. Wrinkles and creases will come and people will stop saying I look like a college girl. I will be called "aunty" even more in the future and probably "mataji" or "amma" (mother) someday by a shopkeeper.

The bones will creak, the hair will turn grey and no amount of anti-wrinkle and anti-aging creams, clothes or make up will help me when I have to fill out forms and have to scroll down further and further to locate the year I was born.

But I can accept to live today, enjoy the present for what it is even though it throws up rude awakenings and reality checks. As Walker Percy puts it, To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle."

As I accept to live in this present moment, I know God will give me the grace to live each present moment whether I am 40, 50, 60 or 70!

Enough for today are its own worries and while I don’t need to be anxious about the future, I can be ready for it. I don’t have to give in to idolising youth. I can learn to number my days with wisdom and I can choose to remember my Creator now – never forgetting that the best is yet to come!

Are you growing old gracefully or have you felt a similar jolt and a desire to turn back the clock?


Photo Credit: Nupur Barua via Flickr cc 

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Shobana Vetrivel

Shobana Vetrivel enjoys the hustle and bustle of city life and the adventure of living in New Delhi. She has an educational background in social development and theology and has worked in both development and ministry settings. She currently works with Delhi School of Theology and is pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology. Books, travelling, theology, coffee and deep conversations are a few of her favourite things.  

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14 comments on “Single in the City: From 'Didi' to 'Aunty'”

  1. When you've got four kids you are automatically Aunty, though I didn't like the term when we first arrived-- but what to do? I believe God invented hair color and facial creams to help a girl out and I'm a huge proponent of them.

  2. I can relate to every bit of your Post. I liked it when you said "I really don’t want to go back to my teens or my twenties because I’m enjoying my thirties far more and feel more comfortable with who I am. "
    "Single in the City" does give lot of Hope 🙂

  3. Shobs such a well written piece. Just this morning I saw something written on a car about being young forever and it made me realize how obsessed people are about staying young. Thanks for writing this, I am sure it will help break some taboos.

  4. Thanks Shobi, for this piece!
    I once remarked about my laugh-lines to a senior colleague and he replied, "You earned 'em! Keep 'em!!" And I've chosen to keep my silver strands as well. My next stage will be some woman or girl vacating her seat in the Metro or a bus for me 🙂
    I also notice that strangers strike up a conversation with me more often than when I looked younger - and that's a definite plus for an introvert like me!

  5. Shobie.... I just felt you read my thoughts aloud ,really nice and so encouraging.In this maddening world of plastic lives and plastic people,it really helps us to refocus on our Creator's beauty in us.Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

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