Meherbai’s gangubai (also called sexy-Sakubai by the Colony boys), took her usual annual leave for going to ‘muluk’ in the month of May but did not turn up for work even after forty days! This resulted in Meherbai getting all worked-up and taking out her frustrations on poor Merwanji.
“Gangubai has not yet reported for work even after 40 days! Has she gone on a world-tour? We Parsis do chowk-ne-sagan at seven or eight o’clock in the mornings but her Majesty, Saku used to do jhadoo and chowk at ten or eleven o’clock! Ketloo Avvar (how inauspicious)! Meherwanji, do something about it!!”
“Yes dear,” said Merwanji from behind the Parsi Times he was reading.
“Do you even know what I am talking about? Do you ever listen???”
Merwanji: Yes dear. Listening and hearing! That’s all I do!
Meherbai: Fine. If you were really listening, repeat what I said… See ! You never listen and only say ‘Yes dear’, ‘Yes dear’ when I talk!
Just then, the doorbell rang and Saku made a grand entry in a Jhakas-Nav-vari (9 yards) sari, all dolled-up like Priyanka and Deepika in the ‘Pinga’ song from the film, ‘Bajirao Mastani’. Meherbai yelled on top of her lungs: Hi Kai ? Hi time ahey yaycha? Chala Jadoo, Katka Kara!
Saku yelled back: Bombabom Nako Karu. Me Tuja Meherwanji Nahi Ki Chup basel. Ata mee don divas yete, nanter parat gavit janaar char divas sathi. Gavit koni sagavala marun gela.
Meherbai: Marerey! Gela pura May ani June mahina sutti vargeli ani pura pagar bi ghetla. Harek mahina madi tu 3-4 divas khara karte. Ashi kashi chalel? Meherwan, say something.
Meherwanji got a ‘brilliantine idio’. He told Saku to give them a list of all her living relatives at her village and as they die one by one, he could cancel their names because Saku’s five kakas, four dadas and five Mamachi Mulgis (cousins) died within the last one year.
Saku: Kai saheb, Garib mansa chi mashkari karte ?
This time, Meherbai put her foot down and insisted that Saku should leave a substitute (Badli chi bai) for the four days leave she was asking.
The next day, interviews started. Four candidates were outright rejected by Meherbai. The fifth was a Bai called Mumtaaj-Begum. Merwanji whispered to Meherbai, “Bahu bhari vibration valoo naam chey.” Mumtaaz inspected the house saying that this house was too small plus two wash-rooms and a silly little strip of a kitchen – “Aisey ghar mein kaam nahin karoongi.”
Merwanji got angry and said, “Toh jao. Tumara Shah Jahan ko bolo doosra Taj Mahal banao tumara jhopad-patti mein.”
Next came a very young, sexy, dolled-up Chhamak- Chhallo girl and Meherbai asked her what she did in her last job (experience and all that).
She replied: During the day, I had to say “Yes Bai”, “Yes Bai” to the lady of the house and at night, I had to say “No Saheb”, “No Saheb” to her mister. Meherbai terminated the interview on the spot and asked her to leave her house.
Lazy Laxmi was next. She said she would come at nine o’clock, have a breakfast of two andas (eggs), bread, butter, jam aur chich (cheese) plus two cups of tea. After that, do some house-hold work and then an afternoon siesta from 2 to 4. At 5 o’clock she wanted to go to the garden to meet her friends and return at dinner time.
Merwanji said: Humko Kamwali Bai mangta, Mehmaan nahi mangta.
The next candidate’s first question was: Pagar Kitna ?
Meherbai: How can she ask that without knowing what work she has to do? She was promptly shown the door. At that point someone rang the doorbell. Lo and behold, it was a short and sweet ganga, infact so short that Merwanji announced, “Koi half-pint aavij.”
Meherbai took one look at her and dismissed her saying short people are extremely cunning – Pet maa taatya aavey. I don’t want this Bakti-Balaa in my house. I want someone tall.
Merwanji: Like Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif or Jacqueline Fernandez?
Meherbai: That’s not funny ! In fact, it is painfully unfunny. Here I am worried sick about Saku’s replacement and you’re talking Bollywood-babes! Shame on you!
Suddenly, Saku returned saying she won’t be going this month but next month. “Why?” asked Meherwanji. “Your dead relative came back to life or what?”
“Ho Na! Ashij Jhala! Toh comat hota (he was in coma) Ani Jagrut Jhala (revived). So she wanted to go 4-5 days next month.
Merwanji: Why? Has he decided to die next month?
Saku: Nahin Seth! Now that he’s OK, the family will get him married next month, so I’ll have to go for the engagement. We call it Saker-Puda. Then the following month I’ll have to go for his wedding. Then after nine months, I’ll have to go for his wife’s delivery. After that, every year for subsequent deliveries. They should have at least 4-5 Mulga-Mulgis no! We are not like Parsis! Getting married in old age and having no children or only one child. We are children of the soil. We live with nature and live naturally, so God blesses us with lots of children and children bring their own Naseeb! Our homes are full of children’s and grandchildren’s laughter. It is in Parsi homes where we work as Bais which are generally devoid of children.
Whats’ more, one Parsi memsaab told me that in your community, unmarried aunties are becoming kajvallis (match-makers) and advising marriage to others. Also childless couples are advising other couples to have more children. What supreme irony!!
Meherbai: She is so right! Our mamai-bapais had 7 to 8 kids. Today, it is such a rare sight to see a young pregnant Parsi girl, even as the community shouts from the rooftops JIO PARSI!! What will happen to our kom in a few years time?
Merwanji: Que Sera, Sera, whatever will be, will be. Don’t be upset my Mehroo-Malido. At least thank God that he has blessed us with children, grand-children and great grand-children!