Meherbai’s Aphoos – Party Goes Phoos!!

As readers already know, Meherbai and her Mandli of ‘girls’ (all over 70) were a Khanar-Peenar (eating-drinking) bunch who believed in enjoying life to the hilt. They all agreed that in a nation immune to scams, dirty-politics, rapes, poverty, lawlessness, the arrogance of politicians, Bans, demonetization and absconders, a mango-party is God-sent!
Meherbai ordered 10 boxes of the most expensive Aphoos and looked forward to a wonderful afternoon of Kairees and gossip. Mani-Mindhi was the first to arrive and her husband Minoo Madari was to bring some mangoes along. Now there was a complete lack of communication as Minoo brought some raw mangoes saying, “Here’s our contribution to the party.”  Meherbai was aghast. “It’s not a bhel-puri nor a Kachumber party!” Actually she felt like taking aim and hitting the raw mangoes on Minoo’s head but she was too polite and kept the mangoes for her Gangubai. One by one, all the guests arrived. Amy broke the ice by saying, “Today, we talk only about Aphoos, the King of fruit!”
Abhan Aban asked, “How come? Aphoos has no crown on its head and no royal robe!”
“Yeah! You ignoramus,” said Amy, “and yet, everyone runs after it, regardless of age, sex, colour, size, creed or status!”
Sheroo, the Shairana, informed the Mandli that Mirza Ghalib has said that a person who doesn’t like mangoes is a donkey. Everyone reminded Sheroo that her hubby, Sammy six-pack hated mangoes.
“What are you trying to say? Kehva su mangoj? That Sammy is a gadhero?”
“We are not saying it – you are!”
“Not me – Chacha Ghalib!”
“Ghalib tahro chacho (uncle) kem thai gayo???”
By now, one hour had passed. To cool the atmosphere, Meherbai said “I’ll tell you’ll why mango is the King of Fruits. Say ‘apple’ and you visualize the KG teacher you disliked. Say ‘orange’ and you think of Nagpur. Say ‘apricot’ and it reminds you of jam. Say banana, peach, melon and it reminds you of Crawford Market. But say ‘mango’ and it’s a ‘slice of Heaven’ – Swarag, Nirvana, Moksh! That’s why mango-eating is an extreme-sport and a national-pastime in India. At this point, Manchu Mawali butted in, saying, “Six Aphoos a day keeps the doctor away!” On hearing this, there was pandemonium with everyone saying, “Mad or what! Six mangoes a day will give you diabetes! So much sugar!!! Ghadhera ne tap avey, tevi vaat na karo aney khotta English ma fekum-faik naa karo. Doctor nahi joiye toh gup-chup roj ek apple khao!”
As the mango boxes had still not arrived, they discussed its varieties. Roshni remembered how in her childhood, the tiny ‘Choosda’ or the ghorvani mangoes would be ducked in a bucket of ice and sucked like an ice-cream and the ice came on the bullock-cart, covered in saw-dust. Tehmina remembered her childhood in Karnataka and how she missed the ‘Banganpalli’ (named after a town) whose skin you could eat along with the pulp. Each mango weighed 600 to 700 grams and was far superior to the ‘Imam-Pasand’ and ‘Himmayat’ kairees. “We also had cooking-mangoes in the South like ‘Chandra-kiran’ and ‘Malgova’,” she said. By now, two hours had passed.
“I grew up in Lucknow,” said Lilly the Silly, “and we had the fibrous ‘Sindhoora-Aam’! My family also used to go to our bunglow in Teethal, next to the Tata Holiday home and every evening we would go to Valsad in a Tonga for Sancha-nu-mango ice-cream.”
Piroja, who grew up in Karachi spoke nostalgically of the local Kairees like ‘Langra’, ‘Goli’, ‘Choosna’, ‘Anwar-Ratan’ and ‘Sindhri’. She spoke about her childhood while everyone listened in pin-drop silence. Her husband, Polly Popat, remembered how he got stuck in a mango tree during his courtship and how the colony boys called him ‘Tarzan’ ever since.
By now more time had elapsed. Romantic Rutty said “Like your first love and first kiss, you never forget the first mango of the season over the years”. Just then, the doorbell rang and everyone was excited.
“Yay! Keri aavi, Keri aavi!!”  they started clapping. An old man appeared at the door telling Meherbai, “Maza naav Dagdu from Crawford Market. Aaj Kairi chi truck naahi aali – tumcha refund ghya.”
All the women pounced on poor Dagdu with verbal-volleys and he scooted down the stairs saying, “Parshi Bai-Lok, Baap re Baap!”
“The party’s over,” said Meherbai. Freny Fatakri lamented, “Afoos party Foos-Faas thai gayi!” And so Meherbai’s Aphoos party became Phoos!
However, Meherbai being a kind person, could not see dejection on the faces of her Mandli members and immediately ordered a few boxes of Mango ice-cream from a store nearby. This lifted the spirits of all who were present and they went home happily.

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