Permanence of virality: The Aunty-B story

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“Yai bik gai hai gormint. Aab iss gormint mai kuch nahi hai!” – Aunty-B (among other things)

 

For most of the people reading this, you’ll know the ‘Bik gai gormint’ aunty story. You will also know exactly why she is being referred to as ‘Aunty-B.’ Of course for reasons of common decency, sensitivity, and professionalism, this writer cannot say what the B in Aunty-B stands for. But it doesn’t really matter. Everyone knows anyways. That’s who she is after all. She’s Aunty-B. And that’s just what we’ve decided to call her.

For the benefit of the few that do not know who Aunty-B is, she is the old lady who so infamously told a television reporter “Yai bik gai hai gormint” and “Saray mil kai hum ko pagal bana rahay hain” amongst a host of other choice descriptions.

In that one glowing moment of unfiltered anger and indignation laced with profanity, Aunty-B epitomized and immortalized all at once the universal feelings that people all around the world have so often in moments of frustration felt about governments.

Since then she has been the inspiration behind iconic memes, remixes, t-shirts and statements of rebellion not just in Pakistan but globally.

Aunty-B has recently, however,been learning about the backlash one can get for saying something they necessarily should not have, regardless of how human or symbolic.It’s a classic case of ‘that’ll hurt in the morning.’ You suspect it will be bad, but you cannot quite gauge just how bad. Unfortunately for Aunty-B, her tryst with online fame may just be permanently bad. Digital footprints are pretty much set in stone after all.

And as Will Smith famously said about his son Jaden’s social media antics, “When I was 14 I was really dumb. But no Twitter, no Facebook no Youtube. So you see I was dumb, but I was dumb in private.”

Add to that the viral nature of her tirade, and there were only two possibilities left. The first being the unlikely yet possible situation of her monetising her newfound fame and using it to improve her life. The second her being shunned by her family and society in general.Which is, according to media reports, is what has happened to her.

In a recent interview her son gave to the media, he said his mother has always been an easily angered and hot blooded woman. His explanations were quite detailed yet irrelevant. Where things stand are that Aunty-B is now shunned by her neighbours and extended family. Her daughters are finding it hard to get married and Aunty-B is getting more irritable than ever. Just in private this time.

This will of course not be the first time we will have done this to someone. No one knows her name, but we all know ‘We are proud of you’ girl just as well as we know ‘Andaywala burger’ and ‘Dil garden garden ho rahahai’ man. The first of the three actually did become a victim of anxiety, so much so that she was unable to go back to college. Only God knows where the other two are and whether them being men means they are faring better than Aunty-B and ‘We are proud of you’ girl.

Aunty-B’s soundbite was in all honesty always going to go viral. There are no two ways about it. The dialogue is hilarious. A woman, an older one at that, being the one delivering that dialogue only adds to the novelty of the short clip. And the child in the background is just the kind of detail you expect the universe to throw in when something so brilliant is captured and recorded for eternity.

Yet Aunty-B has this deep profoundness to her. The stream of expletives, though admittedly funny, is so raw and genuine it connects people on very basic human emotions. Most people or videos that go viral involve no sense of detail or significance. Aunty-B’s rant was anything but lacking significance.

It is not for us to now with the benefit of hindsight judge whether releasing the video was right or wrong, ethical or unethical. She was not forced into the interview. And for the randomness of social media, Aunty-B could now have been another success story the likes of Arshad ‘Chai Wala’ or ‘One-Pound fish’ man. You never can tell, but what you can do is know that Aunty Qamar isn’t much different to any of us, and that everyone should be at their most vigilant in the presence of a camera.

And yes, that’s what her real name is, Qamar. And if we are going to use her as the symbol we say she is, at the expense of her social life and mental well-being, let’s at least drop the B and just call her Aunty Qamar.