In Jo's Blog

The Aunty Poem (Mi Privilege Es Su Privilege)

Mohja Kahf

I will be your aunty in the new city

where you have not yet met a soul

Come to my table and eat

Teach me your pronouns

I will be your aunty who wires you money

wherever you are stranded in this world

missed your bus your flight

When you’re passing through,

show me how to outline drama eyes like that

I will be your aunty with old-fashioned

button shirts and an ironing board

you can borrow for your interview

I will introduce you to whatever board members I know

Introduce me to your artist friends

You’ll make me look good at my next meeting

You can unfold my couch

Teach me golden hip moves

I will slip you any privilege I grasp

I am your aunty for life

Here are clean sheets,

and my spare key

American woman with white hair wearing a red sari and wavingAt 64, my aunty-ness has slipped into Grandma territory,  a deeper, more privileged version of the dependable woman in this poem. I can wire you more money these days and you don’t even have to ask. I just know when you need it.

I am friends with board members in many more cities – I’m even on boards myself. I will open all the doors for you, write all the references, make sure someone meets you at every train station. I’ll be waiting on the platform when you come back to my hometown.

I don’t mind ironing the shirt you’ll wear for your interview – I’ve got more time now too. No couch to unfold – I’ve got a spare room and I keep it ready. When I say you are always welcome, that’s exactly what I mean.

And you? You never stop teaching me. You tell me all the things: the funny new words to use and the ones to stop saying immediately; why pronouns and why not to be curious about things that don’t matter. You step in swiftly before I make a fox pass and you change the question when it’s clear I have no idea what to answer. You steer me right past the generation gap and the cultural divide; you leap across whatever is lost in translation to get to the secret heart of the matter, letting me in on all the latest new discoveries.

This Grandma gig is the best. I’m yours for life, kids. The clean sheets, the spare key, the table, the chair, the hot cup of tea, the cold glass of water, the intros, the exits, the listening ear and the unjudging heart. They’re all here for you. Because whether you know it or not, you’re my jaan. It goes around, it comes around, it goes around again. We are all on this carousel together.


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