It was one of those days: when the meal on the table was particularly delicious kind. It was also one of those days, when all six of us, for some reason or the other, had begun to argue over everything under the sun, on the dining table, at lunch time!
A time when Father, especially when the lunch was to his liking, liked to put his head down, hands into dish, into mouth, to just enjoy each morsel that he so thoughfully designed, (oh yes, his nevalas (morsels) were a work of art!) before it got devoured. A bit of the rice, mixed with just that amount of daal, the piece of meat from the curry, the potato, the achar, aah, that delicious nevala, which only he could fashion. And then, while it was in his mouth, the bite of a bit of raw onion, a bit of cucumber, a bit of tomato, radish, tip of the green chilli dipped into- a bit of salt, which was sprinkled on the edge of his side plate. All required immense concentration, for it was in the minute details, that the sheer joy of eating was taken to its heights. It needed quiet. It needed six obedient children, one subservient wife, to be putting their heads down as well, and eating, what so ever was on the table, uncomplainingly, whether they liked it or not, silently!
Well now, easier said than done, for how was anyone to silence five growing girls, some turning into women, some in their teens, the last wanting- to- be, as soon as possible, and the only son, making his own waves, against all the odds, and one not-take-anything-lying-down, standing- up- for- the- children, Mother! No, quiet, was not achievable, despite all the disciplinary rigours we had been subjected to, over our growing years. The fear of authority had long become part of history. With that, our voices, grew louder, more boisterous, more “familiar” with no barriers of age, restricting our self-given freedom of speech.
That was it, as Fathers concentration on the joys of eating was being subjected to levels of “noise”, he raised his head; Enough! Said he. Silence. Enough. There seems to be no regard here for age, for seniority or juniority (is there such a word) and that fault lies because I have not enforced my Shirazi manners on all of you. You have become Yazdis!!! (When Aghajan got onto his shirazi high horse, then it became, us and them!) Yes, yazdis, (mother’s side) have no hierarchy, everyone is addressed by first names! Hence the utter breakdown of manners. From today, you shall no longer address each other, regardless of age, with first names. Titles of respect shall now be given as per Shirazi tradition, and you will address each other as such.
Shahla will henceforth be Shahbaji to all of you
( I protest says, I,
only 10 months apart,
in the same class since school,
apart from each other the nine months in mothers womb,
I cannot call her anything but Shahla,
we are as one!)
There is truth in that, alright, you alone are exempt, none other.
Farrokh shall henceforth be Mahbaji
Reza, to Susan who is younger to him, Dadash
And what about me, what will I be called, pipes in a little voice, from the far end of the table. You, will be called Susan by everyone.
That’s not fair, I wanted a title too!!!
And thus were our names suffixed, to last us to this day, except Reza, and Tahereh, who in due course of time, did away with our suffixes, with mutual and out-of-fathers-earshot,(for the longest of times) agreement, of course!
Did it make us better mannered.? Less boisterous, voiceferous, argumentative, with one another, at the dining table, and elsewhere? Who knows; beyond all the suffixes and titles, we all, irrespective of Shiraz or Yazd, loved each other. That’s all that mattered in the end, for that over and above everything else was fathers greatest fear, that we love not each other enough, for all times.
25th March 2009