Letters to the Editor

The Worst of Times – The Best of Men

Charles Dickens opens his classic, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, set in the background of the French revolution with the lines, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… History repeats itself in its own way. In the twentieth century, there were the two World Wars, a kind of decimation never seen before. It was the worst of times, but it also brought out the best in man.

Yet again, history repeats. It’s the twenty-first century and the curse of Covid-19 has descended upon man as a deadly pandemic, threatening to wipe out humanity. It has also brought out the best in most men, barring those out to make a fast buck out of it.

Doctors, nurses, the police, pharmacists, researchers, social workers and the good people are at the forefront, risking their lives as they continue working fearlessly in unsafe environments, to save the masses from this disease. They maintain distances from family, friends, neighbors and colleagues who work for public utility services where their attendance is mandatory. All this has been said at great length by commentators, doctors, writers, social workers and politicians the world over. Let’s now shed some light on how our community has fared during these dark, these dismal days.

Let’s take, for instance, our Baugs – the microcosm of our community, which is law-abiding and well-educated. This has prevented our microscopic community from succumbing to this demographic disaster, as most followed the simple, hygienic rules of regular hand-washing with soap, maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask when going out, and doing so only when needed.

Through the lockdown, many residents came to the aid of the indigent, the old and the infirm neighbors; especially the youth who selflessly came to the aid of those in need of medicines, tiffin and other daily needs. Our neighbours have been a boon to us – the Guajarati adage, ‘bharut bhi aapra mai-baapaj hoi’, rings true.

At a larger level, the BPP Trustees ensured that the poor and weaker sections weren’t reduced to abject helplessness and starvation during the strict lockdown period. They appointed a helpful caterer and so many big-hearted, brave volunteers – cooking, packing and delivering wholesome and sufficient meals to stranded Parsis all over Mumbai. God bless all these good-hearted Samaritans!

On a scale of greater outreach, the World Zoroastrian Organization Trust Funds, under the able Chairmanship of Dinshaw K. Tamboly, has done such amazing work that even hyperbolic epithets would not be exaggerations for him and his philanthropic team – distributing large amounts of grains, providing generous monetary support to those in need of financial help, donating to hospitals – the total running into a princely sum of Rs.2,20,26,755/- (figures as per the report in the Parsi Times dated 5th September, 2020), thus reinforcing the credence to our old boast, “Parsi thy name is charity.”

However, it is indeed sad at times when the names and deeds of good people are maliciously portrayed in the wrong light with false statements. Then there are few unZoroastrian Parsis, some in high places too, who have robbed the community of great benefits for their few minutes of fame. These benefits could have been accrued to the community vide the Tehmulji Nariman Parsi Lying-in Hospital project and the B D Petit Parsee General Hospital development project. A great shame!

Even so, our community is fortunate that despite several monkey-wrench-in-the-mechanism type of saboteurs, the heritage left behind by the Jejeebhoys, Petits, Readymoneys, Jokhies, Shroffs and many such other Parsis will never fade into nothingness. These great men and the legacies they left behind will always come to the aid of our community whenever the need arises. And for that, we salute these – ‘best of men’ – who we will always be most grateful to!

Dara M Khodaiji
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