A semi-autobiographical account of my childhood with aunt.
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Aunt Hanan and I ascended the stairs in the back space of my grandparents' house for a late laundry hanging. We had laundry ropes up there as did most of the people who'd built balustraded rooftops. A girl, and to a greater extent, an adult woman, would usually have a young male companion to secure the perimeter; the greatest threat was sexual harassment from neighbours (Knowing, naturally, that a lone girl wouldn't tell on them), and at best, the laundry-hanger would fall a prey to the neighbour's visual fantasies (She shouldn't be seen in homely attire, as the rule postulated).
I've had the privilege to accompany my aunt for none of those reasons. I know because I asked for it and had no knowledge of the aforementioned shenanigans; not until I myself became one of the neighbours who'd only stare. I used to wait patiently for the rotating clothes in the machine to come out as I'd already guaranteed my going up. She too had enjoyed my company and started to tell me beforehand of the upcoming missions. If the Japanese had their Tsukimi, I had my own laundry-viewing. The only difference was my aunt: a human maker, as opposed to the natural set of the moon.
One day, it was unusually late. We'd managed the habit of doing laundry in the daytime. This time it was around 11 P.M. late autumn. Our lovely neighbours wouldn't have the chance to steal a glimpse in that night. We could barely see each other thanks to the waning light of moon. Midway through our talks (I couldn't enjoy the viewing, so we talked instead) I looked down and saw a lizard-like shape, extremely bent to emulate Ouroboros. As an eight-year old city boy, my initial reaction was one of panic and estrangement; first one was physical (I ran in circles and screamed) and the latter mental (I wondered how could my aunt let that happen). As I ran in my circular frenzy, the shape kept on following me in the same manner like an absurd ballet. The scene lasted for seconds as my aunt's initial reaction resembled mine (Only physically and minus the ballet). She took me by the hand and we ran down the stairs and I stopped looking downward, lest I see the damned creature once again. I can't recall who went back up and resumed the hanging. He was certainly one of the uncles.
My love for my aunt grew that night. Had it been one of my uncles, he would've either told me to shut up/man up or accused me of imagining things (Which probably was the case – a hanging cloth at the hem of my pants or some reflection of the moonlight). My aunts instantly believed me and reacted accordingly, and if she didn't believe me, she'd scream anyway because that's how one should react if anyone else screamed in the dark and ran away from something. My initial estrangement was transformed into a greater love. Yes, our loved older people cannot always protect us from the world, and they may fear the outcome as we do, and we should all unite in our horror and screams.
As a Law student, aunt Hanan introduced me to Plato and Aristotle. I was 10. She thought, I presume, she was entitled to explain to me why she locked herself up for hours, studying and studying. She might've caught the roaming questions around my head, questioning why anyone should do that.
I love my aunt because I love myself and she resembles me. That's how I see it, I love people and admire them deeply only when they meticulously mirror my temperament and Weltanschauung (Well, I love German). As a mother, aunt Hanan named her youngest daughter Rama. In Arabic, some say it's related to the Kaaba, its ground or engraving, or, to a lesser extent, it refers to a green land of sorts. It remains a controversial 21st century baby name as it also refers to the Hindu god. You can count on a former Law student for a whiff of irony.