Meherwanji was sitting quietly on his easy-chair and reading Parsi Times when Meherbai came charging at him like a bull saying “Now put everything aside and get dressed pronto because we have to go to Crawford Market to buy a big X’Mas tree, some decorations and lights. We’ll light up our agaasi like the next door vandoras – Jaloo and Aloo, the obnoxious spinsters!”
Meherwanji: Arrey nahi baba! I don’t want our agaasi to look like Munni-Bai-Ki-Haveli! X’Mas tree is the limit.
And, so they went and bought a huge X’Mas tree. But how to get it up to their third floor flat? With the help of their two supposedly strong neighbours, Sammy-six-pack and Piroj-Pehelwan (both weighing 50 kilos each), they managed to bring-up the tree.
That done, Meherbai spent the rest of the day calling-up all her Mandli members for a very traditional X’Mas lunch party. Khadhri Farida wanted to know if turkey would be served. Soona sweet-tooth asked if there would be plum-pudding. Coomi Kaajwali wanted an X’Mas cake. Dolly asked if there would be Santa Claus. Of course, assured Meherbai. Meherwanji will be Father Christmas in a red coat and X’Mas cap with a white pom-pom ball!
All the Mandli wives were maha jealous since Meherwanji was so sporting and full of life, even in old age while most of the husbands were house-bound, with no enthusiasm to enjoy life. She even scolded the lazy lethargic husbands saying, “How can you stay indoors day after day? What about your social life and interaction with friends? Look at my Mehello. Once breakfast is over, we lock the house and gallivant all over town, seeing movies, lunching at clubs with friends, visiting Art Galleries, Exhibitions, Malls, Coffee Shops, Book Stores etc. Life is for living, so LIVE-don’t just EXIST. Even a worm exists. All of you have cars which you hardly use. Take your wives for daily outings in your cars!”
The husbands would listen politely to Meherbai and later request Meherwanji to tell his wife not to give funny ideas to their wives, but Meherwanji was an ideal husband who would give them a double-doze of advice, saying, “Bairi ney roj bahar lai ney enjoy karvata soo thaij? A happy wife means a happy marriage!” Of course, the husbands resented this and behind his back, called Meherwanji names like Joru-ka-gulaam, Bairi-no-margho and what not!
On X’Mas eve, Meherbai spent a lot of time decorating the X’Mas tree with stars, baubles, silver-streamers, mini-santas and a pair of white-doves (like in the movie Home Alone). As they left for the X’Mas eve dance, she forgot to shift the huge X’Mas tree from the centre of the drawing room to a corner. That night, while the entire Christian world held Midnight Mass and sang X’Mas Carols, Meherwanji got up to have a glass of water in the kitchen, but to reach there, he had to pass the drawing room where a fall awaited him. The poor man didn’t switch on the lights and banged right into the X’Mas tree and fell down with a thud!
Meherbai: Mehella, what happened darling? Soo avaaj aayo? Aaproo X’Mas tree toh salamat chey ney?
Meherwanji: Oh Khuda! Mari Gayo! I fell on the floor, flat on my nose because of your sufiyanu tree. Come and help me. Tree is salamat, I am not!! Meherbai ran to rescue her tree and Meherwanji (in that order). Touchwood – he was fine but his nose and toes were swollen and red.
The whole Mandli turned up an hour before the appointed time to help Meherbai (in eating – not in kitchen kaam-kaaj). Khadhri Farida of Rustom Baug was the first to arrive but her 200 kilos couldn’t get in through the door, until her boyfriend – Soli Sales-Tax pushed her in with all his might. Meherwanji was lying in bed wearing his Santa Claus’ red coat and ridiculous red cap.
Freny Fatakri: Wah Wah! Meherbai, soo saras Father X’Mas no make-up kidhoj tamey!
Meherwanji: (Groaning in pain) Oh! Oh! Oh!
Freny: Merwanji, Oh! Oh! Oh nahi! Santa toh Ho! Ho! Ho! boley! Chalo bolo Ha! Ha! Ha!!
Mani Max Factor: Meherwanji, what shade of blush-on have you used on your red, red nose? I want to use the same shade of blush-on.
Meherbai: Ladies, ladies, em bedroom ma dhasi aaviney Meherwanji ney harass na karo. He had a nasty fall which is why his nose is swollen and red and he looks like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer! It’s not make-up!
Koomi Kaajwali: Arrey wah!! No make-up? Meherwanji toh mahri maafak natural beauty nikalya!!
Meherbai took all the members to the drawing-room and served chato-pani and soft drinks to all as per their preferences.
Rarto Rohan: Sing aney wafers awwa deo!
His wife, Hasti Hilla: Sathey jara badam, pista, kaju bi lavjo. Aaprey toh ghernaj chaiye!
Meherbai served them all these plus cocktail kababs, Barbeque prawns and mini cheese-sloppy-Joes. The Mandli insisted on singing X’Mas carols. They sang one song after another and Meherbai went to the kitchen to replenish the WAS-NOT starters. You see, the Mandli got tired after each song, gave themselves an interval and polished off everything on the plates. If the plates were made of ‘Marzipan’, they would have eaten up the plates too!
In all this revelry, everyone forgot what was in the oven. The kitchen was filled with smoke and the ‘Turkey’ was burnt charcoal black. Meherbai screamed, “Somebody, HELP ME!”. All the ladies rushed in where angels fear to tread and helped Meherbai clean the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Meherwanji kept hollering from the bedroom saying he was famished and “where’s the turkey?”
Jabri Jaloo: Turkey oodi gayi.
Dolly’s Dolla: Turkey has gone on a tour abroad to Turkey. Farva Gayij!
Meherbai: Please don’t crack such koila jokes – not when my Mehella is unwell! I should be by his side fussing over him and now, the turkey is burnt. Guys! I owe you a nice home-cooked lunch but for now, I’ll appreciate if you all leave – my mind doesn’t function if my hubby is not well!
The Mandli consoled her and calmed her down saying Kai bi kaam-kaaj hoey toh kehjo. They left shouting, “Bye-Bye Meherwanji!”
Today’s parting was indeed a ‘sweet-sorrow’. Everyone parted with lots of kissi-koti-tata-bye-bye. Once alone, Meherbai and Meherwanji cuddled-up in bed and opened a bottle of champagne, wishing each other a Merry Christmas though there was nothing merry about it!