Chowdhury Kakima (Aunty) was a terror during our adolescent days. I was scared of her more than of my Mom. Not only me but each and child in the neighbourhood feared her like the devil.
Chowdhury Kakima was a childless woman who had voluntarily taken the charge of disciplining every child in her vicinity with too much seriousness. She used to spend half of her day spying on kids from behind the curtain of her window. She knew the whereabouts of most kids in the area. If any kid scored less in exams Kakima used to reach their house and start admonishing the poor kid more than his/her parent. She used to even start scolding the mother that she should have been more careful in upbringing the child. Both the mother and child used to stand guiltily with hung heads in front of Kakima, like naughty school kids and Kakima used to keep on lecturing like school’s Principal.
When I was barely 17 years old Kakima adviced my Mom to start looking for a groom for me. Her advice was that it would take about a year to search for a groom and prepare for the wedding, so my parents could actually marry me off around my 18th birthday when I would become legally eligible to marry. My Mom was gullible and as she was not keeping well, she felt this was the perfect solution to her problems. My Mom even hoped that she would be able to see even a grandchild before dying.
I almost felt like strangulating Kakima. Thankfully, my Dad supported me. He got extremely annoyed with the interference of a third person in our private matter. He firmly told my Mom that she should warn Kakima not to interfere in our life.
In the meantime one day Kakima caught me smoking cigarette with boys. That day all my friends were trying their ‘first’ cigarettes behind a small shop in the neighborhood. I also tried. We were hiding behind the shop and thought nobody would see us, but Kakima saw smoke coming out and true to her nature she came looking for the fire behind the smoke and caught all of us red-handed. She ran to my Mom and said “Boudi (sister-in-law) you are destroyed, I saw your daughter smoking along with boys. What a shameless daughter you have given birth to. Now who is going to marry your daughter?”
My Mom obviously got annoyed but my dad came to the rescue. He asked me “Were you smoking?” I was already feeling guilty, my head was hung. I barely managed to nod. My dad asked calmly “why?” I said, “I just wanted to know how it tastes?” My Dad said calmly “Never try again.”
There was a friend of mine who had a crush on a girl. One day he gave a rose stem and a letter to that girl. That news somehow reached Kakima. She went and complained to the boy’s parent and the poor guy was beaten with a belt by his father. I often wonder why she was never hired by KGB or FBI. No wonder all the kids in the neighbourhood hated her.
However, now when I meet her, she looks old and frail. Her husband passed away a few years back and she lives all alone. There is nobody to look after her. Whenever she sees me, she hugs me warmly. She no more appears like the evil woman from our adolescence but a lonely old woman who is looking for some love compassion and companion.