As we near 21st March, Ratimai tends to get mushy. “Darab, remember how we said ‘Pasand-e Kardim’ (the Parsi equivalent of ‘I do’) forty-three years ago, just on the very happy day of Jamshedji Navroz?
“Harrumph!” reacted Darabsha.
“Why the ‘harrumphing’? There is nothing to be grumpy about! ’Tis the season of plenty! Plenty of fruits, flowers, song-birds and joy!”
And also, ’Tis ‘Jamshedi’ Navroz, not Jamshedji!” barked Darabsha.
But Rattie always wanted the right of way, and quipped, “Jamshedi-Jamshedji, baigan-brinjal-vengna, whatever! All the same!”
“That’s all well and good, but you, reminiscing of the day of our nuptials reminds me of your brother Jamsu, the clumsy oaf, who sat on my beheshti grandpa’s pagri, a family heirloom and crushed it beyond repair! He was sozzled to the gills! Dead drunk!”
Rati was a great believer of peace on earth and goodwill to all man, all round the year, when it came to her brother, Jamsu. She smiled tolerantly and tried pacifying Darabsha, “Come on Dalu, that was a Ruby anniversary ago! All is forgotten!”
She was known to quote (err… misquote) Shakespeare and this time she took on poor Marc Antony… how the Bard of Avon must have turned in his grave, when she retorted… err… distorted:
“Friend, pal, partner! Lend me your hands;
I have come to bake a cake, not to quarrel!
The man that does good to his wife, lives a long life,
And is rewarded with wines and viands; pulaos and popatjis.”
“Eeeeeks” screached Darabsha, even as Marc Antony turned in his everlasting resting place!
“I’m going create a Parsi cake, Kumas sans todi, but avec une difference!” (OMG heaven help the lingua Franca!). “It will be an Indo-French creation!” said Rattimai, adding poetically, “a little bit of this, a dash of that, a sprinkling of something, a glug of what-not… and what have we! A fusion of French gateau and aapru kumas! That will be brought to the table en flambé. Ooooo la la la! Ce sera magnifique!! Chalo Darabsha! Pelo French brandy kahro!
“What! What French Brandy?” Darabsha feigned ignorance.
“The one you have kept hidden behind your socks and the unmentionables. The very socks in which you keep your cache of poker money all rolled up… under your collection of Playboy Magazines!”
“Huh, but how do you know Rats? The cupboard is always locked up! The contents therein are sacrosanct! I am shocked, you can stoop so low to snoop. I am aghast! But tell me Rats, how do you know all this?”
“Elementary, my dear Darab, elementary! I have a duplicate key!”
“My French cognac brandy!! Oh e-tau dukh-sukh ne vare mae rakhelo che...” (Aside, quoting Lady Macbeth) “Your hand, your tongue, looketh like innocent flower; But be the serpent under!” he murmurred under his breath.
“Su boliya?” asked Rattimai, the Guajarati Spanish Inquisitor!
“No, no nothing my dear better half. I only said ‘Right ho!”
Rati’s tone became more like Lady Macbeth’s now. “None of your dukh-sukh ne matae, Darab! This is for only sukh!” she screamed, waving her velan, the rolling pin which has become the world-wide symbol of the angry woman. “Now get going or else dukh may befall thee, man!”
Dutifully Darabsha immediately got going. Her ‘or else’ always had an ominous tone. He had no desire to explore the ‘or else’. Half the French nectar from the Cognac region went to the dry-fruits and the batter, the other half vanished in enriching Darabsha’s interiors. He got into the ‘spirit of the springtime’! A little ‘happy’, he embarked on going the whole hog and added some old Port and some Amaretto too! There was no holding him back now! He burst into a strong baritone reciting a Persian poem, “Bahar aamad, bahar aamad, Gul-e something, something – hic! Aamad!”
It was that time when a Parsi gentleman ceases all care and sundry chores. Aapra Darabsha was relaxing on his motabawa’s easy chair with a decanter by the side and a tall glass, full of Parsi peg of some very authoritative fluid and happily humming an old Pirate Ditty, ‘Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum’, in E-flat. Only a couple of glugs were downed, no more, and his blissful reverie went poof! It was Rattie (of course!).
“Daluu darling, now let’s see whom to invite. Maro jeebharu Jamsu ofcourse!”
“Yea, but he can wait. He barges in even uninvited as it is. Ladies first. Oh yes aapri Cherie ane her air-hostess friend.. You know she always greets me very cordially and she often wonders how I keep myself in such a fine fettle, looking so handsome. They inquire after you too. The other day that air-hostess asked me, ‘That aunt of yours with 1950’s hairdo, how is she? Even at her age, she is quite sprightly’. Very considerate of…” Darabsha’s voice trailed off into nothingness as there was an explosion like the Krakotoa. It was Rattie.
“At My Age? HUH! AT MY BLOODY *%^$*# AGE?????”
“Language, my dear girl, not lady like at all!” said Darabsha, the pacemaker. (Yes, you read that right – ‘pacemaker’.) “Language Rattie, Language! It won’t do your heart any good. Such language!”
“Language? I’ll tell you what you can do with that language of yours. Go *@%^$# yourself!”
After much bickering, haggling and bargaining it was decided to omit the air hostess. Cherie, the baug’s arm-candy made it to the Navroz eleven so to speak. Jamsu was a non-negotiable – he would come and free load most of Darabsha’s Scotch. Darabsha invited his Gymkhana pals and in return Rattimai called some of her Kootla Committee’s friends. A gaggle of Rattie’s aunts also came – Sylla masi, Mitha masi, Sakar fui, Homai mami and Soona kaki, with their respective hubbies in their trail. And Madam editor too! She came, and knowing my weakness for all things sweet and gooey, she brought a box full of mawa-na-khaja! Underneath the gruff exterior, there beats a heart of gold. Maybe, just maybe, my Ruttie also has a cœur d’or!
Darabsha is now looking for Rattie–proof hiding place for safe-keeping those little things that men value much.
Even as this story is wrapped up, Darabsha shouted, “Hold on, Madam Editor! I want to add something!”
“Now what? Ok. Hurry up! Get over and done with it!” she said.
“Yes, yes Ma’am! JAMSHEDI NAVROZ MUBARAK TO ALL OUR PT READERS AND ZARTHOSTIS THE WORLD OVER!!!”
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