Aunty Mat Kaho Na !! This dialogue by the famous actress from 'Hum Paanch', the television serial was and has become so famous as an idea or punch line; not only for the beauty industry but also the health sector, to lure young and very young customers alike. No wonder the first thing that comes to any woman on hearing being called 'Aunty', evokes a sharp reaction, 'Aunty Mat Kaho Na !!'.
The situation is very sensitive for women who are just married or have a small infant, but is more tolerable to women who have grown up kids (?). Such women have been tempered down not because of getting used to being called 'aunty' but because that they take it in their stride (looking at the brighter side) as their kids circle of friends keeps on expanding; or because they have been chiselled with their kid(s) constant demands and needs to pay any attention to their individuality. I happen to be a woman who now loves to hear being called 'aunty' for it means I am a confidante to all the teenage talk and their secret subjects. I get to discuss or meet my daughter's friends and feel like a youngster again in the evenings after a busy day in my office.
It was on one such busy evening after coming back from my office all tired and hungry that I finally decided to visit a dentist for some intermittent toothache that had insisted on its presence during the lunch time. My husband was more than happy to take me to the nearest dentist. His happiness comes not because of the fact that I will be treated for the pain but for the fact that I will have to be quiet during the treatment and worse still have my tooth scratched and drilled, as be the case. A short survey of the available dentists in our locality on a busy n lazy Saturday evening brought us in front of 'Miss Dentist' sign board. The feminist in me immediately opted for this clinic. A short form filling activity and other formalities, we were ushered into the consultation room where we greeted the doctor, a young woman dentist with a hello and explained my problem. The dentist diagnosed the problem and pointed out, "Aunty you will have to go in for a root canal followed by a ... ". With no other option, I decided to continue the treatment and her instructions.
The treatment involved many sessions during which various procedures and treatments were followed during the course of which I used to ask many questions on the need and reasons behind the treatment. Simultaneously I got used to alien terms like my 7 and 8 (ie teeth number), RC (root canal) etc and I would also try to be specific in their language. Our talk at times flowed towards general topics on our daily schedule, our family, etc. The variety in subject was a result of both being talkative. So on my third visit my dentist had started to build her own perspective about me as the inquisitive 'woman' and on my visit, greeted me with a 'Hello, how are you ?'. I did not fail to notice the absence of the word 'aunty' but it was the last thing on my mind for I had to be under tremendous suspense in anticipation for the pain caused due to still live nerves. On my next visit for the cap measurement, I was clearly instructed, "Swapna, you need to have dinner before you come for the final visit and strictly no water for an hour after the capping is done".
'Oh! wow, my name without any suffixes or prefixes was music to my ears even though my tooth was reduced to half its size. After that day and till day, I greet my dentist as 'Hello Doctor' and she with 'Hello Swapna'. The change in the greeting from aunty to first name did not happen because of some beauty cream or beauty treatment; it was more so because of the personality and individuality that was brought out from our conversation and communication.
Being called 'aunty' is not a reflection of our age but more so a reflection of the notion or expectation that the greeter has about you. Adding a suffix or prefix to the name has more to do with giving respect and defining a relationship than to hurt any woman.