Meherbai and her Mandli organised a party for their better-halves to celebrate Father’s Day. The hubbies didn’t mind because they knew that anytime is party-time for this Mandli. The only question asked by the men (fathers!) was “Chhato-Panni hosey key?” The wives chorused, “Haas-to-vari! Party maa Chhato-Pani nai to soo, nahvanoo pani avey?”
And so, days before the party, the ‘girls’ went shopping. Not for Father’s Day gifts – hell no! But for themselves! New clothes, shoes, handbags and perfumes etc – in preparation of Father’s Day no brand-new vaago! “What about gifts for the men?” asked Shopaholic Shernaz. “What gifts? What do you give men besides kerchiefs, socks, books, ties and after-shave? Our men have enough of these. No need to spoil them any further!” observed Thrifty Thrity. Kanjoos Ketayun immediately agreed.
And so the big day arrived along with a huge ‘Happy Father’s Day’ cake, half of which was demolished by the girls while the guys were in the bar enjoying their Parsi pegs with six types of fish starters at the Willingdon Club. After dinner, they all went for late-night coffees to Meherbai’s house because her hall-cum-library was huge, comfy and very inviting. Everyone had to say something related to their Fathers in keeping with the theme.
Meherbai began, “Fathers are like beautiful flowers. As they bloom, they spread beauty and fragrance in their children’s lives. The most precious archive in the world to me is the archive in my heart where I am safe-keeping the precious memories of my father.”
Manchi Mavali said, “I was a very naughty child and the only memories I have of my bavaji are of being continuously scolded and of being beaten on the rear with a netar (cane). Bavaji gave me the nick-name of ‘Mavali ‘. He said that it suited me and now I am stuck with it for life. I hated him but still looked after him in his old age.”
Siloo the psychiatrist butted-in, “Oh! My God! You must have been so traumatized in your formative years! You can scare a child for life with beatings and name-calling! It’s abusive parenting.”
Gentle Gool: “My dad was a single-parent who never remarried after mom died. When I fell ill as a teenager, my dad took special permission from the hospital authorities to sleep on the floor even in my ICU cubicle. He fought with God to get me out of my coma. I’m unmarried today at 65 as I have to take care of him. He is my only family.”
Emotional Amy hugged Gool saying that although she has a family of her own, she considers her father as the center of her Universe. If he so much as sneezes, her heart starts palpitating and his smallest pain can make her sick with anxiety.
Jasmine: “My mom and dad are now very old and fragile. They are my wings because they taught me how to ‘fly’ and be independent. Even though I have a nice and loving husband, my mom and dad are the most precious jewels that I possess!”
Prochi, the philosopher: “Look at the sky through that huge window folks! That star on the left is my papa. He’ll always be with us and look after us. My hubby, kids and grand-children, all love my papa.”
Diana Duckling: “My dad deserted us for another woman. As far as I am concerned, I’ve no dad – only my mom and two sisters.”
Richy Rich Rutty: “You’re better off without him! My mom died of cancer when I was small and my dad remarried and I could never get along with my step-mom. Dad always said ‘She is your mother’, to which I would retort – ‘She is not my mother – she is your wife.’ Luckily, I fell in love with my neighbour’s son and married him. Today, we are very well – off thanks to the fortune left behind by his father.”
Jaloo and Aloo, the twins who lived next door, said their bawaji loved them to bits and kept saying till the day he died that with such wonderful daughters, he felt very proud and did not miss having a son!
Hilla: “Our house is a home only because of my noble ‘sasraji’, who is highly educated, enlightened and fills our life with love and understanding. I lost my dad in childhood, so I relate to my ‘sasraji’ as my dad. To look after him in his old age is my saubhagya (good fortune) and the highest salaried job since the payment is in pure love!”
Hilla’s husband Hoshi: “My Hilla looks after my father, mother, brothers and sisters so well that I worship the ground she walks on. She is more loving to my parents than my own sisters!”
Banoo batak’s hubby Behli: “You lucky dog! My Banoo took our two kids and walked-off to her father’s house. For the 20 best years of my life, we were separated. She was always disrespectful to my family and her stupid gher-bhagoo father used to encourage her. Today we live under the same roof as strangers and I can speak-up only because she is not here.”
Siloo the psychiatrist: “Work on your marriage. Join Banoo for her morning walks. Hold her hand in public, sit on the colony-bench and bond together!”
“Never!” snapped Behli. “I’m doing more than enough by contributing to all house-work, bank-work and going with her to lagan, navjotes and parties and moreover, pretending to be happily married.”
The mood had turned very serious since Banoo ni pol khuli gayi, so film-buff Freny tried to lighten the mood by saying, “Hey! Have you noticed how in Hindi flicks the fathers are either overstrict like Amrish Puri in Dilwale Dulhania Ley Jayenge or plain bafoons like Anupam Kher in film after film? Whereas Hollywood dads tend to be real in comedies like Babie’s Day Out, Kindergarten Cop or Father of the Bride!
“Yes! Yes!” said Kersi-Kaju-Katli. “And in Hindi films, why do villains only kidnap the mother and tie her up to a pillar? Why not the father?”
Bomanji: “Good question. The Mandli fondly referred to Bomanji as the Sound Of Music guy because he widowed very young with five children and promptly married Thrity, the pretty tuition teacher of his five kids. Touchwood, they are one big happy family today although strangers mistake the couple as father and daughter!
It was getting late so Meherbai ended the party saying’ “There are fathers and fathers. In fact, as many types of fathers as the entire gamut of human emotions. Not all fathers are loving and thankfully, not all are cruel. Its’ to do with your past lives’ karmic-links (Karma-no-hisab-kitab). The challenge is to love both your parents for giving you the gift of life and nourishing you in your formative years. The father (any father) has to be respected and treated like the Head of a family.
Henpecked Homi: “I’m the head of the family and my wife Jabri Jaloo is the neck and wherever the neck turns – left, right, centre, forward or backward, the head has to follow!”
Jaloo: “Chaal! Chibo na tha! Don’t put your big henpecked-hubby act in public! At home you are always romantic and singing songs for me – ‘Jab tak rahega samosey mein aloo, Mein tera homi aur tu meri jaloo!’
Everyone had a good laugh.
Merwanji: “The world may be moving at breakneck speed with all kinds of relationships but the most satisfying, essential and nourishing relationship is the one between a father and his children and of course, the mother of his children!”