It used to be Baby, ‘cos they saw I was young,
The one they looked after when her parents weren’t around.
Then, it was Didi – the elder sister,
A young adult woman without a ‘Mister’.
But 2 years of marriage and that was all gone,
Then I became Bhabhi, their sister-in-law!
Now things have changed and there’s grey in my hair.
More on my middle, and some signs of wear.
I’m Auntie and my age gets me more respect,
For I’m older and wiser – at least that’s what they expect.
The years will go by and things will change,
I might someday be Naani – that’ll be a different stage.
Indians very rarely use Mr or Ms to address each other. The elderly woman is addressed as Auntie. And shopkeepers, vendors and fellow commuters have titles for each stage of life. This poem is about the stages in the life of the Indian woman.
Many who speak English as a second language refer to a woman’s husband as her ‘Mister’ – as in “How is your Mister?”
‘Naani’ means grandmother – a title of respect reserved for an ‘Auntie’ who is a senior citizen.