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black dress for wedding

Another true story: I tried to reduce it as much as I could, but any further editing was just not going to adequately convey this gem of an experience!

I found 20 minutes today – unaccounted for – so I took it out for coffee to the local watering hole.

There’s a bit of hustle and bustle at the table next to me. I look up, more out of habit than actual interest. And I am instantly intrigued by the sight that greets me… four Indian grannies (their race specification is important for the context of the rest of this post) apparently all friends who appear to be settling in for an afternoon of tea and gossip. The only granny-like thing about them was the intensely grey hair and that beautiful crinkled skin – you know – that skin that is a tapestry of a life that has been lived.

Now my mind creates a certain picture when I think of an Indian granny in particular. And the picture is informed solely by the memories of my own granny whom I had the benefit of having in my life when I was well into my 30’s. My Ideal Granny is always shorter than me (because I always had to bend my body almost in half whenever I hugged my granny). Ideal Granny is always wearing either a sari or some sort of flowery, paisley, shapeless granny-dress which falls to sweep the floor thus ensuring that both her ankles and the ankles of her granddaughters are hidden from the lecherous eyes of men for all eternity. Her hair is clean and neat but most definitely untainted by the contaminated and sexually promiscuous hands of a stylist and her nails are short and clean, without a speck of nail polish adorning them (for according to Ideal Granny nail polish are for the hands of a whore).

These grannies were something else – dressed in tailored slacks and collared shirts of the pastel kind. Perfectly styled hair (it looked like a Rolf job to me). Beautifully manicured nails with prostitute red nail polish. You could see an outline of a bust (sacrilege according to Ideal Granny), there were defined waist lines (Ideal Granny says that grannies must only be round), ankles, knees and a hint of above knee action all there on display (Ideal Granny by now has had an aneurysm).

I’m torn. On the one hand I loved everything about my new neighbours. They were like my version of Grannies Gone Wild. I loved their style, their sense of class and the fact that they were doing something that was so new generation like meeting for coffee at a place known to attract a younger more professional crowd. But these grannies sat down like they owned the place. Regal queens holding court (with their walking sticks serving as their royal sceptres). On the other hand Ideal Granny was holding her hands over my eyes begging me to look away, to not be a party to the demise of all things granny that was taking place right before my eyes, reminding me that she was the one True Indian Granny to which all other Indian grannies had to aspire to.

They were close enough for me to hear them. And I needed to hear them. Because if they looked so different from Ideal Granny then surely they must sound different? Surely they must talk about amazingly different things? Things that Ideal Granny would box my ears for listening to?

So you can imagine my utter disappointment when they spoke about everything that Ideal Granny would have spoken about! There were:
1) the expected polite enquiries into the state of each others family (according to Aunty Gita – and yes I learnt their names, her family was being torn apart by that rubbish of a soon-to-be daughter-in-law who had the sheer audacity to suggest that her wedding sari be a colour other than red!!! According to Aunty Gita, what self-respecting Indian woman gets married in sea green??? Is that even a colour? And isn’t the sea blue? Now her precious son is being bullied by The Witch to wear sea green);

2) the sharing of ailments, aches and pains that had befallen them since their last coffee date (Aunty Priscilla’s husband was suffering with gout. This apparently makes him very moody. This angers Aunty Priscilla because why must he be moody with her? It’s not like she gave him the gout! She only asked him to take her to The Gateway because Memsaab was having a sale and she needed to buy her sari for the wedding. And yes readers, it’s Aunty Gita’s sea green wedding. But the way Uncle Prem shouted at her! And then told her that he should have listened to his mother and never married her!)

The conversation pretty much carried on along similar lines. I lost interest and prepared to leave.

And then it happened. That moment that I had been waiting for. The gossip had moved to more fertile grounds. I settled back in my seat, asked for a glass of water (because now I needed to justify my continued presence at a table that I was just about to leave) and listened in:

Aunty Premilla’s daughter had been living with a man out of wedlock (Ideal Granny is already taking out her shoe for shoe-hiding). But the relationship was in trouble. The daughter leaves the shared house and moves back home, then she’s back with the man, then back home and so it goes. The daughter is now back within the bosom of the family. But Aunty Premilla is worried because the daughter appears to still be seeing the man. He fetches her from the house “for dinner” and the daughter says that they are just going out “as friends”. But Aunty Premilla is no ones fool. She reports to her friends that her daughter is gone for hours on end, sometimes only returning the next morning. Aunty Premilla is highly suspicious that there is more than dinner going on as according to her what Indian eats food for so long??? (Ideal Granny is nodding her head so vigorously in agreement that she’s about to give me a headache ). Aunty Premilla is worried that her daughter is still “doing the deed” with the ex, and worse still, they aren’t even living together anymore! Now she’s a woman of loose morals who, in the absence of marriage, can’t even lay claim to a “life partnership” with this guy as they no longer live together. The daughter insists that “she is over him”. Her lunch companions all start throwing in their sage advice – nothing worth mentioning. The table settles into silence as they each appear to absorb the depth of Aunty Premilla’s troubles. black dress for wedding

And then, out of the silence comes the quiet, dignified voice of Aunty Gita who proceeded to offer probably the greatest pearls of wisdom I was ever going to have the good fortune of overhearing in my lifetime:

“If she’s still occupying space underneath him, she’ll never get over him”.

The water that I was periodically sipping, and which at the time of Aunty Gita’s most graphic sexual utterance was unfortunately in the process of being swallowed, went down every possible pipe and tube in my body except the one that it was meant for. It was a most surreal experience – dying from laughter and dying from choking – all at the same time!!! To hear such a graphic, sexual utterance out of the mouth of this little old Indian lady was more than either I or Ideal Granny could handle (Ideal Granny desperately wanted to wash Aunty Gita’s mouth out with that green soap). We proceeded to choke our way out of the café.

When I eventually regained some semblance of my composure, I considered Aunty Gita’s words. There was undeniable deep wisdom there, mixed with the images of the sweaty, gyrating bodies of the ill-fated couple. It was a simple wisdom dressed up with the most inappropriate thoughts a granny should ever be having (that’s because Ideal Granny is an asexual being by virtue of her GrannyHood).

And I suppose it’s a wisdom that most women can appreciate at one point in our life or another. So ladies please take note:

In the sage words of Aunty Gita:

If you are still occupying space underneath him, you will never get over him.