It was Sheroo’s birthday. She was Meherbai’s neighbour and the birthday-girl personally did all the chowk-chadan-toran-sagan herself before carrying a silver tray containing sev-dahi-banana and a boiled egg covered with a delicate embroidered muslin. Sheroo desperately wanted to get married and ever since she was 20, her parents, friends and match-makers (kaj-walis who were themselves spinsters) showed her potential grooms (Bakras?). She didn’t find even one among them who was good enough for her and up to her level. You see, her expectations were too high, qualifications too low and her height even lower, at a little less than five feet. In desperation, she tried one more time to persuade her next-door neighbour, Meherbai to use her considerable connections in society to find her a ‘Nice Parsi Boy’ to marry. Yes, a ‘Boy’. You see, in our community, even a 50-year-old bachelor is called a ‘Boy’. For that matter, even the waiter at Ripon Club is called a ‘Boy’! For eg., “Boy! Eedhar aao! Dhansak ready hai kya?” “Serve karo!” The only difference is that the waiter ‘Boy’ works at the Club all his life while the ‘Nice Parsi Boy’ works at home after his marriage, carrying out all his wife’s orders (sorry, wishes ) for the rest of his remaining life ! But I digress….
Meherbai welcomed Sheroo with “Happy Birthday Sheroo dikri!”
“What’s so happy about my birthday?” cribbed Sheroo. “I’ve completed 35 today. That is 10 years more than 25 and 10 years less than 45. In 15 years, I’ll be twice as old as I was 10 years ago!!”
“You sound like a mathematical problem! What is it you are trying to say?” Meherbai asked.
“Meherbai, my shelf-life is almost over. My expiry date is fast approaching. I am like a film past its interval. The first years of my life were spent in school and one year in college. Then a Bank-job. Today, I am 35 and still unmarried. My friends in their 40’s are already young grandmothers. I am left on the shelf, waiting for Mr. Right. Oh Khodaiji! What does the future hold for me? Look at me Meherbai, I’m so pretty, SSC pass, Englees-speaking, smart and sexy. Tell me how do I look in this new Birthday dress stitched by my Balaram Street tailor?”
“Sheroo, Sheroo, you have awful dress sense! To begin with, stop wearing red satin frocks with lace-collars, buttons and huge pockets. You look like Red Riding Hood!”
“That’s the very idea, Meherbai, I want a tall, dark, highly educated, handsome and rich Big Bad Wolf to carry me off on his white horse to Albless Baug, marry me and make passionate love to me every night for the rest of my life.”
Meherwanji overheard that and said, “Chokri, Tu Ghani Fast Jaaij. Why would a tall, dark, handsome, highly educated and extremely rich guy want to marry a 35-year-old? Such a boy would want to marry a spring-chicken and not a frozen Mafco chicken!”
“That’s very rude, Mehella!” reprimanded Meherbai, who went on to give Sheroo tips on a complete makeover – a la PT’s makeover maestro, Arshis Zaveri. “Sheroo, throw away your Bawa Aadam Na Jamana Na Chasma. Get lasik done and wear fancy goggles like Kakri-Na-Cake does in that song ‘Kala-Chasma'”
Meherwanji immediately interjected, “It’s not Kakri-Na-Cake! You mean Katrina Kaif.”
“Yes, Yes, I mean the same – Salman Khan nu favourite cake!” said Meherbai, who went on to claim freedom of speech in a ‘Democrazy’. Again Meherwanji had to correct her and told her that the correct word was “Democracy”. Thereafter Meherwanji got such a big lecture for poking his long Parsi nose when two Parsi women were talking that he actually got older, just listening to her !
“Meher, my Malido, please keep your lectures for Lions and Rotary Clubs and your sufiani Mandli,” he said as he walked away in a huff.
Meherbai then asked Sheroo what sort of a groom she wanted as she had 3 to 4 bachelors in mind. Sheroo replied, “First of all, he has to be very tall.”
“But you are a short batak (duck). You’ll only come up to his navel!”
“No! I want tall. Then, he has to be dark and handsome. ”
“And if he is fair, should he put Cherry Blossom Boot Polish on his face or what?”
“Also, highly educated like a surgeon, engineer a rocket-scientist since the L’Oreal ad on TV tells me daily ‘You are worth it.’ Further, I’m making it quite clear that I won’t stay with in-laws or out-laws. I want my own separate flat and absolutely NO interference from his family. He should buy me only Jimmy Choo shoes for the rest of my life and give me Rs.50,000/- pocket-money to spend as I like every month. I can’t cook or drive, so I expect a cook and driver for his Mercedes or Audi. Two foreign holidays a year would be OK plus weekends at Goa, Pondicherry and Ooty.”
Meherwanji was eavesdropping on all these stupid demands and got very angry. He couldn’t control his anger and exploded like a pressure cooker which had no water inside, “Who do you modern girls think you are to have such sky-high expectations from our kumara Parsi Boys? Don’t you have a full-length mirror in your house? If you have, go home and take a hard look at yourself – all 4 feet 10 inches of you! Plus, you have nothing on top or bottom – just a sukki boomli. No figure, as we call it! We men like women who are shapely and curvacious like a Coka Cola-Bottle. And what’s SSC pass? Some of our Colony’s kachrawallas have passed SSC!”
Sheroo was in tears, so Meherbai ordered Meherwanji not to poke his long Parsi nose in female matters (baira-ni-vaat-ma) and ordered him to leave, which the mouse of the house duly complied!
“Don’t cry”, said Meherbai. “If God wishes, you’ll get married soon. You are only 35 and have miles to go before you creek with osteoporosis. But Dikri, marriage means loving, caring and sharing with the husband’s family and making your in-laws happy in every way so that your hubby can really admire and love you. What’s all this nonsense about expensive shoes and ridiculous amount of pocket-money? Marriage is all about two souls becoming one in love. Sorry! Your expectations are too high. Higher than Mount Everest. Tu jevo hubby mangej, tevo toh Khodaiji eh banavyoj nathi! My advice to you is that you remain a spinister and forget about marriage.”
Sheroo asked, “That way, I’ll be happy for life?”
“No,” said Meherbai. “That way, the guy who doesn’t marry you, will!!”