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Dear Aunty D: May 2022

by Aiden

From irascible spouses to pretentious cousins, Aunty D helps you navigate your relationships.

Can She Keep a Secret?

Dear Aunty D,

I’ve had a best friend since university whom I thought was my sister for life. We shared everything – our food, class notes, vacations, dreams for the future, and even some secrets that I never thought would see the light of day. However, something has happened between us which I won’t relate, but now we’ve had a falling out. I’m afraid that now nothing is stopping her from sharing my confidences with all and sundry – I know the phrase is, “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead,” but what if it’s our friendship that’s died instead? 

Dear Can She Keep a Secret?,

Here’s hoping the sun will soon break through the dark clouds blocking a strong bond you once shared, and she hasn’t as yet spilled the beans. But it’s a lesson well-learnt that the only person you can tell all to and know it’ll be safe is your mother. Also, when you talk too much, it’s in your interest to pry out some of the other party’s juicy, spicy bits to stash away as defensive arsenal. Of course, you won’t actually tattle, and neither should your ex-friend, since it mars the individual’s reputation as a trustworthy and ethical friend.

Strop-ford Wife

Dear Aunty D,

I love my wife dearly but lately, she’s been irascible beyond belief. I don’t know if it’s our advancing age or the events of the last few years, but she always snaps at me when I ask her anything and she’s been shorter than usual with our children and even grandkids. Every time I approach her, I feel like I’m entering the lion’s den, but I don’t know how to address the issue without making it worse. What do I do? 

Dear Strop-ford Wife,

If there’ve been some upheavals or losses, or even some changes in her usual age-related medications, it could cause confusion and irritability, as could slight impairments in seeing, hearing or bowel movements. She might be experiencing unexplained discomfort somewhere internally because an organ is silently screaming for attention. But it’s crucial to address the possibility of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. On a positive note, your dear wifey’s swing from ‘gentle cow’ to ‘raging bull’ could be just menopause, which is a normal part of ageing, but with many psychological and physical implications!  So, cross your fingers and toes that the phase will soon tide over with a little help from an endocrinologist. Meanwhile, do exercise patience and tolerance and a lot of understanding.

Young, Dumb, and Broke Branded

Dear Aunty D,

I’ve got a cousin who’s always been obsessed with brands and status, but I feel like she’s taken it to new heights in the last few months. Now, every time she goes shopping for groceries or even a loaf of bread, she takes an L.V. paper bag with her to put her shopping in, just so she looks like she’s bought couture. It’s dumb and honestly, has made me rethink my friendship with her. Should I stage an intervention?

Dear Young, Dumb, and Broke Branded,

Sadly, she’s been swept up in the whirlwind of consumerism blowing from all sides. She cannot continue to equate who she is with what she wears, the charade will wear her down sooner than later. If you feel she has issues with her self-worth due to looks or status, or has suffered rejections and repeated failures, then please encourage her to see a counsellor. Meanwhile, be supportive and avoid criticising the routine, and maybe slowly veer her towards some social work, where every little act of kindness is appreciated and no one there judges the bag you hold, what you look like, or where you are from.

Have an etiquette question? Send your dilemmas to aiden@masalathai.com and write “Dear Aunty D” in the subject line.

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