My Aunt, St. Humble (1)
Her “hallelujah” is usually the loudest in church; the kind said with such vehemence and attitude that made people look back at her—they have to look back because she always sits at the back. She tells people, oh so loudly, that it is a sign of humility; that the book of Proverbs advices to make one’s self of no reputation when at gatherings. The chapter and the verse, she never recalls, but she says it’s surely in there somewhere because she reads the bible from cover to cover, 10 times in a year.
Her dressing is usually as loud as her humble self—usually a combination of items both outdated, “indated” and postdated, for she sometimes designs things she says will be in vogue 50 years from now. Her hats, you would guess, are things from the 40s, often decorated with horrid looking feathers, multiple colored clothes (or rags), and sometimes stones she says were handpicked from Jerusalem during one of her yearly visits there. And her shoes, let’s not even go down there… They are usually literally indescribable. Most times, you catch yourself staring down at them for seconds, trying to make out the definite shape, material used, and ideabehind its wearing all in one, but that’s futile because just like everything that she wears (or that wears her), her feet are mostly shod in a combination of past, present and future.
For her makeup, I think if a movie were to be made of how Jezebel painted her face and thrust out her head from a window to seduce Jeroboam, she would be the perfect characterization for the part, with her heavily masqueraded face that reminds you of Joseph’s coat of many colors—I mean the complete combination of the Primary, Secondary and maybe even Tertiary colors. The arch she constructs to mean a brow is as long and hunched as London Bridge. Sometimes, Pastor’s smallest child cries when looking at her face. True, children are attracted to colors, but not when the colors seem to be fighting a World War 3.
Naturally, just like fire flies, things flock around her for her brightness. They can be called things because they behave just like things around her—they mope and clutch at her every word, listening with unwavering attention to the download she gives them of how the previous week had been, the clothes she gave out to charity (because she loved the poor), and her travel itinerary for the rest of the year, and maybe that of 5 years to come also. Her “tales by moonlight” always come on Sunday after church. Immediately the benediction is shared, she hardly blinks an eyelid before the women flock to her and she starts telling them this and that.
It is no secret that the Pastor’s wife is her friend; she tells the women it is only humility that could have brought her to such favor with the “high and mighty”. But, what the women do not know is that she had become friends with the “high and mighty” because she also, like the rest of them, sees this peacock of a woman as a demigod. This demigod became one because she’s different, and difference is something unique amongst women, since they usually just flock together. And the demigod talks good too. Her talks are very intimidating; it always makes them have something to quarrel with their husbands about when they get home, because their standard of living just has to measure up to hers, and since it cannot, the husbands prepare themselves for fresh trouble every Sunday afternoon.
Aunty Humble is not married, as you can guess by now. She says “love” and such weakly things are for babes; she, on the other hand, is like Mount Zion that can never be moved. She once told the women, though, that she practices “chop and clean mouth” …no strings attached, and they all stared at her in confusion. She had laughed at their “holy ignorance” of connotative expressions. But she had reminded them though-humbly-that she read the bible from cover to cover 10 times a year, and she had become their idol again, standing in gaping awe of her seated majesty.
But, to the men, Aunty Color is a “casting and binding” prayer point. She, not the devil, constitutes most of their nightly “Elijah prayers”. She is the reason why their wives, grown daughters, and girlfriends clamor for more clothes, more shoes, more restaurant visits…more trouble. She is the cause of it all; she does it so effortlessly, just seated in her usual back seat while the females in their lives surround her like she is some fairy godmother or something. Sometimes, she laughs out loud with the women, and at other times, she speaks in low tunes that make the men strain their ears in a fruitless effort to get a word of what she is saying. Every Sunday, they hope Madam Masquerade has not given the women the commission to kill them so they can be like her. The men never know what to do, for she never takes the women in fragments to gossip, and so what can they possibly report to pastor as her crime? All she does is be different and…well, make every other woman notice she is.