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Guju Gal.

As part of 'The Diary of a Bindi Babe' this is series 4 and only has 1 entry - this story.

By Mayurie Published 4 years ago 6 min read

I wasn’t sure how to present myself when walking into the room, but I entered.

I just brushed my teeth and came down to be greeted by them all in the room. Aged 7 and to my dismay, it was quiet but not only that, the energy was low. My energy should have been much higher because I was going back home (finally) and I guess I just wanted to be greeted by smiles and warmth. This was the 4th family members house I’d been to stay at this summer holiday and I was just tired without realising I was. Was I destined to be the illest as my cousin Jyoti would say? Quite possibly...

I couldn’t quite possibly have presented my half limp smile in any other way either. Was I reflective of the city I was in, that being Harrow. And to put it quite humorously in a very dark situation, and my 19 year old would have said I was ‘very much on-trend with the vibes in the room.’ With what smelt like a foul mood in the air and as I breathed in the vibe, I felt their silence and soft movement between all of them enter into me. And I don't think it could be farted out either. I also felt like I took in whiffs of shame, guilt and manipulation. I was spiritually shot down multiple times, right into the dumps I was literally gutted. And there was nothing I could do about it - not even reach out to my cousin Amit, who was busy with his dad, Uncle Jay. I was only little.

I knew we weren’t going to catch up at all either, me and Amit. He just stared at me like a blank wall and waved his arm like a British flag. The irony of that goodbye was so unhelpful. Yes I did not want to see him go but to really wave and have me watch was in the top 5 moments where real life slow motion happened. That's exactly how I described it to myself in the moment.

It was the school summer holidays and I thought he would be staying with me. Even though the adults always have the say in these situations, I really wouldn’t have stayed at all if he wasn’t going to be there.

The worst part of it all was he even showed me to his room to show me where he sleeps, when we entered the house. I later grew to find out that his dad forced him to do this in the car when I was fast asleep on the back seat. This is where he lived when his parents were in the middle of divorcing. A half-way home.

The older I got, the more I understood. Uncle Jay was an alcoholic and took several different drugs which I once heard him call ‘self-medicating’. He couldn’t function without it. Aunty Vin who was the closest to him, had a real tendency to be very nosey and I liked that part about her the most. She was known for petty theft within the family, stealing jewelry sets of gold and once even wore them publicly showing off that they were hers, but she was an unattractive woman and I just always felt sorry for her. It was her hidden skill in fact - to spread gossip within the community and be the ‘local paper’ for the people. These people being our immediate family.

I think they took Amit away that day we got to the house and left me to spend time with his mum and sister because she was basically going through post-natal depression and needed more females around? Who knows but Amit wasn’t there and I was bored of having to traipse around the furniture stores, veg markets and spice isle most days with her newborn. Without watching any of my favourite programs or eating any of the food I liked, especially Rotli and Shaak. I always wondered about my mum and dad, if they would pick me up but not for long. I’d experienced this kind of away visit before which I’d later come to remember but at the time forgot.

My dad said I’d be going round to Aunty Acharya’s who lived in Slough next summer too. She was a really dull lady that ate way too much Idli for her liking. The most yummy of Gujarati food, but as soon as there was even a chance to grab one, they’d all be gone. She had lots of money and made for a great housewife.

“The more you have on your plate, the better - its bery necessary you know - Oh IDLI!” She used to make the worst noises in her sleep too. Like a cat being strangled in Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu all at once. What was worse, is the sleepwalking. She even once, dead in the middle of the night, walked to the kitchen and attempted to cook Idli. LOL. It was the definition of an epic fail.

As I got older, I’d found out that I was calling for my mum in my sleep during my stay in Harrow. She once grabbed my arm so hard in my sleep because she thought that someone had jumped through the window in the middle of the night. She was a little bat-shit crazy and with the newborn sleeping in the cot she made from bedsheets, old pillows and stacks of clothes.

I really wasn’t surprised. I just kept quiet knowing that the only 'thing' we could share was an emotion contained deep within.

We later found out that Uncle Jay had lost his job and wasn’t working in the pharmaceutical world anymore because of his aggressive nature and violent tendencies toward his wife. They were the main reasons they divorced because he once stabbed her in the arm. It was a flesh wound that she never reported but he did it in front of the whole at a family gathering. That's what we heard anyway. It was during that time everyone in the family grew to know about what was going on behind closed doors. From the affairs to drugs, his gambling and serious addiction to what looked like an ugly collection of shoes - it went from bad to worse.

As I got into the car, half slumped on the back seat of it, I remember reflecting about why I was related to these people. Naive and at times humorous thoughts. I loved being Gujrati but they made it seem very hard to be a happy Guju girl. No wonder my friend Hadaya used to pass judgement about how skinny, gaunt and dehydrated they look. Not only were they deeply miserable but they also looked at it too.

As a 32 year old woman with twin boys and an amazing Punjabi husband, I still very much love my culture and enjoy visiting certain family members who live a wonderful life full of Dhokra dreams and Thali tales! Infact, I’m much more with it now thanks to Mina Faiba and her family who live in upstate New York in America.

The moral of this story which I just had to write out today is that being reminded of certain events in your life, especially negative ones can always be changed. Being a positive chokri helps :)

...And some people are just an ass and always will be.

I’ll ‘Kemcho’ to that!


About the Creator


Mayurie, Founder of Bindi Babe (www.bindibabe.online) is the Author of: The Diary of a BindiBabe. A series of semi-fiction memoirs based on true events.

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