When I was growing up, we lived in a big joint family with my grandma, aunt and uncle. Life was always exciting; the house was always filled with people visiting. The kitchen was a bee-hive of activity. From 6 am to around 2 pm, and then again from around 4 pm to late at night.
Picture courtesy – 123RF.com
My grandma, mom and aunt were permanently busy, and we tried to keep out of their way. Life was simple and fun.
My grandma’s house was the third house in a long line of houses; neighbours we knew from birth. In the third house from ours, on the right, which was the sixth house in the row, lived one of my grandma’s dearest friends.
My grandma’s friend was referred to as ‘the aunt who lives in the third house from ours’ (loosely translated from our language).
So, when there was a festival, we became errand girls, as we ran to distribute sweets to our neighbours. We frequently visited “the aunt who lived in the third house from ours”, as, being dear friends, my gran and she exchanged a lot of things – sweets, vegetables, sometimes change for currency, sometimes grocery….
Also, nearly twice or thrice a week, “the aunt who lived in the third house from ours” called on my gran during the 2 pm to 4 pm lull time.
She wore lovely vibrant sarees, and a big pink Bindi on her forehead. She usually carried a bunch of keys, that had a long metallic keychain. This used to fascinate me. She had a distinct cough, and she coughed on and off. We were not allowed into the living room, so we peeked from the window sometimes.
They caught up on their everyday lives. At 4 pm, after her friend left, my grandma and mom would head into the kitchen to start preparations for dinner. All meals were prepared at home, and there was no concept of eating out.
My grandma and the “aunt who lived in the third house from ours” went back to their chores, totally rejuvenated after their afternoon chit-chat.
But it wasn’t until much later, when I had started working, that I heard about the passing away of my grandma’s friend. It was then that it hit me; that I did not know her name!
But, she continues to live on in our memories as the “aunt who lived in the third house from ours”; and evokes many lovely moments from my childhood.