An article by Bachi karkaria….at her hilarious best ..
Parsi to Past-si … By Bachi Karkaria
Soli Solicitor shuddered at the Census sentence, knowing there was no reprieve. Nusli had an asli aneurysm at the prospect of the makers of Bombay dying out. Jimmy Gymkhanawalla went into a paroxysm of population push up. Home-for-the-Aged Homi’s thoughts strayed far from his hernia. Kawas clutched on to his Kawasaki bike, trying not to fall off the seat and the map. But it was of no use. The writing on the wall was as clear as a fire-temple bell. The latest Census had confirmed the continuous demographic decline of the Parsis; now they were down to a critical 69,601. How soon would the world say Ta-ta to the grand old community?
For a long time already, Mumbai’s Dadar Parsi Colony had looked like a museum-piece, preserving what had disappeared elsewhere in Mumbai – low-slung houses, leafy lanes, table manners, and the increasingly rare species of Homo Sapienwalla. But now, a pall of gloom enveloped the enclave like an old shawl swathing Ivory Ava’s shoulders. In deference to the decline, `Benaifer Boobs’ raised her notorious neckline, and `Jabri Jer’ lowered her shrill haranguing of Docile Dinsu, the dhobhi and the neighbour’s Doberman. As they huddled over their lunch of crisp-fried bumla, the Parsis in baugs and colonies trembled at the prospect of being out for a Bombay duck themselves. What would apro Nari, Polly and Rusi say! As they dipped their RTI bhakras into their afternoon mint tea, Bachelor Bomi and Spinster Spenta rued the fact that they were among the large segment that startled sociologists and Shata-bens alike.
The `Never Marrieds’ had created the uniquely Parsi phenomenon of most of their flats being occupied by adults who weren’t spouses. Brother-sister, mother-daughter, and uncle-nephew lived under one roof, bound by blood, RBI bonds and bickering. Spenta, 68, said, “I sacrificed marriage because I had to look after Pappa.” Bomi, 70, said, “I couldn’t get married because Mamma, bless her departed soul, wouldn’t give me a divorce.” Kekoo Kaka, 83, ambled in humming the Parsi song, `Bachelor Boy’. That jolly gentleman, with a gleam in his eye and glaucoma, was determined to uphold the community’s philosophy of `Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die out’.
No, Sir, they wouldn’t just wither away: they would go out in a burst of farce and murghi na farcha. Kekoo Kaka decided right then that on the New Year’s Eve at the Willingdon Club, he would not sing something as depressing as `Auld Lang Syne-off’. Instead, he pulled out his father’s gold-nibbed Mont Blank, and composed an adaptation of a more cheerful song of the season. To `Rudolph’s jaunty tune, he would belt out: “Rustom, the hook-nosed Parsi, Had a very distinct nose. And if you ever saw it, You might even think it growed. All of the other Indians Used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rustom Join in any desi games. Then one stormy Census eve, Banthia came to say, “Rustom with your numbers’ plight I will spell your doom tonight.” So all the other Parsis jumped up and down with glee They said to long-nosed Rustom, “We’ll pass into his-to-ry !!!!!”