Sunday Tribune - - BOOKS - HENRY HIG­GINS

PUSHIE Aunty likes big words.

There was the one time when her op­er­a­tion at RK Khan Hospi­tal was post­poned. The athe­ists were on strike.

When she heard that Ra­gani was tak­ing elo­cu­tion lessons with Saira Essa at the Unit 10 li­brary, she asked her to fix her kitchen light.

Her cav­a­lier vo­cab­u­lary is hardly out of place in my beloved Bangladesh Mar­ket dis­trict in Chatsworth. Lan­guage is only to un­der­stand one an­other.

As is our tra­di­tion, I stopped at ev­ery house to drop off in­vi­ta­tions to the an­nual New Year re­union in Park Rynie. The door-to-door vis­its came with real-time sta­tus up­dates and an­i­ma­tions that would put Face­book in the shade.

I asked Aunty Pushie to take a selfie. Like my crew with mi­crob­laded eye­brows and Brazil­ian weaves, she first dashed to the mir­ror.

Out of the cor­ner of my eye, I could see her at the pol­ished an­tique im­buia dress­ing ta­ble com­plete with gleam­ing bev­elled mir­rors. She touched up cheeks and chin with Snowhite cream.

“I hope you got more than 24 films,” she gig­gled as she took her place be­side me on the di­van couch.

Wad­dling to the six-sec­tion white enamel kitchen cup­board, she fished from the in­nards of a crum­pled Sun­day Tri­bune a Kodak Instamatic.

“See if you can fix this cam­era. Un­cle used to take all our snaps with this.”

She shed a tear for Boya.

“He left me and gone pa.”

As she rus­tled my tenth cup for the evening, I peered at her book col­lec­tion. There was the Divine Life So­ci­ety’s What Hap­pens to the Soul Af­ter Death.

I fig­ured that the book came af­ter Boya was cre­mated at the Si­vananda Ghat in Clare Es­tate. Along­side was a pocket New Tes­ta­ment and next to that Linda Goodman’s Love Signs.

Sounds like the widow is on the prowl.

She brought me tea in a fine china cup and sauce on a plas­tic tray with eggshell doilies.

“Have at least one bis­cuit,” she pleaded. Our good­byes were all of 20 min­utes right up to the con­crete fence.

“Au revoir!” she blew me a kiss. Thanks to an episode of Date My Fam­ily, Aunty Pushie has added a spot of French to her big vo­cab­u­lary.

Hig­gins is in In­dia for the World Book Fair.

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