19 April 2013

Teta Dana

17" x 14", ink on Bristol board, 2003

This is my mother's sister, Dana (pronounced like "Donna"), at the family home in the village of Velushina some time before she moved to Australia. "Teta" means "aunt" in Macedonian (actually, it's what you call the sister of either of your parents, and your teta's husband is your "teteen"). It's complicated: your father's brother is your "streeko" (or "cheecho") and his wife is your "streena" (or "nina"), but your mother's brother is your "vuyko" and his wife is your "vuyna". Is that clear?

To further complicate things, Dana was called "teta" by so many nieces and nephews that she was called "Teta Dana" by her siblings as well, so, as a very young kid, learning about my family through our family photo albums, I was confused as to whether Dana was my mother's sister or her aunt.

Bonus anecdote: when my sister and I visited Australia in 1993 we were amazed at how Dana had very strong similarities between our mother (who's younger) and our aunt Magda (who's older), even after living away from them for decades. She talked, laughed, gestured, etc. alternately like each of them. It was entertaining and endearing.

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