The irrepressible charm of Bapsi Nariman


June 15, 2020

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With the passing at 89 on Tuesday of Bapsi Nariman, née Contractor, wife of eminent jurist Fali Nariman and a fiercely independent lady in her own right, I have lost a mother figure and my daughters a grandmother. Having been attached for over 25 years to Fali and Bapsi — the archetypal ‘Parsi lady,’ crisp and firm in speech, but large-hearted to the core — we first bonded over her remarkable sense of humour, and then, over her playing grandmother to my two daughters. I held her in very high esteem — as I do her daughter Anaheeta, a leading speech therapist in Mumbai, and son Rohinton Nariman, a Supreme Court judge.

Article by Rajiv Luthra | Economic Times

I recall an incident of the Narimans’ 50th wedding anniversary celebrations, where I was privileged to be master of ceremonies at their home on Firoz Shah Road in Delhi. I had them both come up to the stage, and as we reminisced over the years, I invited an eligible young bachelor whom I knew among the guests to join us. Then turning to them, I had asked Bapsi, with half a century of experience being married, if she had any advice for the young man. Quick to the take, she replied, to the hearty applause of the audience, ‘Age before beauty!’

1-3-300x229Then I turned to Fali. Even as the quintessential ‘good husband’ with his usual warm and charming smile, the learned senior advocate started listing all the good things of a fine marriage — companionship, breakfasts together, holidays, togetherness, etc. Again, there was long applause. But as that applause began to fade, Bapsi turned to the young man, looked him straight in the eyes, and with as much a straight face she could muster told him, ‘My dear boy, all that he [Fali] has said is perfect. And you have heard all the positives of a successful marriage. But there is only one problem — the first 50 years are excruciating. Thereafter, all is well.’

And with that, she lovingly fed him a small piece of their celebratory cake. An uproar of laughter followed.

My family, and every member of the firm joins me in sending our heartfelt condolences to the Nariman and Contractor families, for their irreplaceable loss. Rest in peace, Aunty.

The writer is founder-managing partner, L&L Partners