KOLKATA, INDIA – The Amritraj family reports that no one knows if Auntie-ji is related to them or not. She has been at all family gatherings for the last 43 years and is considered a part of the family. It is unclear which side of the family she is from or if she is an actual relative or not.
“The whole family has come together for my cousin-brother’s wedding,” said Akaash Amritraj, 43, who flew in with his family from Detroit. “And my eldest asked who Auntie-ji was. I’d never thought about it before – Auntie-ji has always been here. She comes in, gives her blessings to whoever we’re celebrating and then sits in the chair by the window. In fact, that’s her seat – we always save it for her.”
“This is my second time in India,” said Akaash’s daughter Amiya, 13. “The last time I was 7 and I just played with my cousins. Now I’m trying to get to know everyone in the family better. I looked through my mom & dad’s wedding pictures and Auntie-ji is in every single one! I thought she must be one of my dadis or nanis. But my dad didn’t know, my grandmother didn’t know, no one seems to know. I’d like to ask her but everyone keeps telling me it might offend her. So I’m asking everyone else instead.”
“She has been in the family so long even I call her Auntie-ji,” said Amiya’s grandmother, Nani. “But there’s no need to upset her, she’s old now and always brings her blessings. I don’t know which side of the family she’s from, but it just wouldn’t be a family occasion without her.”
Pankaj Uncle also weighed in:”She’s my godmother, of course she’s part of the family. It doesn’t matter if she’s an actual relative or not – that’s the joy of the big Indian family. Why make trouble now for a kind old lady? There’s no point. And who knows how much longer Auntie-ji will be with us?”
“I’ve quietly asked every adult over 40 and no one seems to know,” said Amiya. “And no one seems to care either, everyone says something like “That’s OK – she’s just our Auntie-ji!” I guess that’s nice, if she doesn’t have any family of her own. But no one knows about that either.”
“I did find one clue,” continued Amiya. “The first picture I found of her was when my Dadi was pregnant with my dad. It was just the two of them, Dadi and Auntie-ji standing next to each other and smiling. I’m sure Dadi would know for sure – except she passed away in 2010.”