Everybody needs an Auntie

Everybody needs an Auntie

“Surita Auntiiiieeee!”

This is a common call at our women’s cooperative in Mumbai and is usually shouted out in a high-pitched Hindi lilt.  What is Surita Auntie’s job description?  On a given day Auntie is performing any number of tasks, basically whatever must get done at the time.  If you need your sampling fabric folded, Auntie is called.  If a dress hem has to be unstitched or a button applied, call Auntie.  Sometimes you see her sweeping up fabric scraps or cleaning up the chai cups after afternoon tea, or she is packing crisp dresses into bags for shipping.

Auntie is the first one to come in the morning and the last one to leave at night.  She has the key to every room at the co-op and you feel you can trust her with your life.  She is the one everyone depends on for the little stuff, which can then make the big stuff possible.  “Auntie is crazy to work,” says Rosie, another member of the co-op, commenting on Auntie’s seemingly endless work ethic.

Michelle and I with Surita Auntie

I am forever grateful to this small powerhouse of a woman.  Auntie makes our hectic two weeks at the cooperative designing for Spring that much smoother.  And in India, anything relatively smooth is a blessing.  Auntie’s job is not the glamorous one, but she really is the grease that keeps the wheels turning.  She has three kids all in their teens, and while her work at the co-op will make it possible for them to continue on to higher education, I gather it is the sense of purpose and belonging she gets from her job that also holds meaning.  Our cooperative is like a family, and a lot of people depend on her.

I think all of us have a Surita Auntie in our lives, or maybe we are the Surita Auntie in someone else’s.  Thanks Auntie, I hope you realize how much you are appreciated.