She was calm plump and laughed a lot, baked the lightest angel cakes, the moistest Christmas cakes and the densest cassava pone! She was almost always cooking, when she was not in the shop which was her business on Dundonald Street. It was at her lunch table - as a small girl not yet ten - that I first noticed the balance of a meal of white rice, vegetables (usually cubes of pumpkin which I hated, or patchoi) a small piece of meat and gravy! There was always food in her pots, massive stews, pillowy piles of steaming rice. It was at her home that the big family gatherings took place - Christmas and New Year's. She was the north pole for a family of many brothers and sisters, and her own family of nine children.
This aunty was my mother's oldest sister, my godmother. I loved her like the second mother she was to me. We shared birthdays in the same horoscope sign - our dates were like brackets around that most sublime of months October - and I saw things in her that I wanted in myself.
As a skinny willful child not yet ten, I was intimidated by another side of aunty, her earth shaking snore! I would leave Tranquil around 2.30 or 3 and walk along Fitzgerald Lane - long and lonely - to stay in her shop until my father picked us up. In that hour, the shop would be closed. Even my pounding on the heavy wooden door sometimes did not wake aunty, who could snore to rattle the windows and shake the floor boards. When she did come to the door with sleep still on her face, I felt like the child in the fairytale waking the sleeping giant, small sulky and sweaty. But she was the soul of kindness and would always offer something - a soft drink (yes!) a piece of sweet bread (no thanks, because I would have to eat my mother's food!).
Aunty was earth to my mother's fire, to their other sister's air. On my father's side, there were many sisters too. And I believe there's a little of all these women in who I am today. Thanks, aunties! You are the threads that run through us, keeping us tethered to an idea of home.