A 21st. Century Drama at 209 Dr. D.N. Road

By Noshir H. Dadrawala

B.P.P. trustee Rustom Tirandaz mounts the pulpit outside the Bhabha bungli to deliver this famous eulogy for "a long-standing religious custom and tradition" which has just been assassinated by his co-trustees led by Chairman Jamshed Guzder.

Jamshedji Guzder was the first to address the crowd, with a view to gain their support for the action, which was done in the name 'compromise', 'placation', 'pragmatism' and 'safeguarding doongerwadi property from a threatened litigation by DDD-AG'.

Tirandaz, who allegedly had no part in the assassination, is allowed by Guzder to deliver a eulogy, and it is at this point that he reveals himself as the clever statesman. While seeming to agree with his board of trustees, and their reasons for the act, Tirandaz uses irony, innuendo, and constant repetition to achieve a verbal victory and turn the Parsis against Guzder and his fellow trustees, until every last man in the crowd becomes frenzied with anger.


Act I, Scene I

Enter Jamshedji, Dadiba, Minocher, Sillamai and Dinshawji (keep guessing which one), and a throng of Parsis.


We will be satisfied; let us be satisfied.


Then follow me, and give me audience, friends.

Dinshaw, go you into Dadar, Cusrow baug or Godrej baug,

And part the numbers.

Those that will hear me speak, let 'em stay here;

Those that will follow Dinshaw, go with him;

And public reasons shall be rendered

Of "Tradition's" death.

First Parsi

I will hear Jamshedji speak.

Second Parsi

I will hear Dinshawji; and compare their reasons,

When severally we hear them rendered.

Exit Dinshawji, with some of the Parsis. Jamshedji goes into the pulpit.

Third Parsi

The noble Jamshedji is ascended: silence!


Be patient till the last.

Parsis, humdins, and lovers of "tradition"! Hear me for my

cause, and be silent, that you may hear: Believe me

for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that

you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and

awake your senses, that you may the better judge.

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of

"Tradition", to him I say, that Jamshed Guzders' love to "Tradition"

was no less than his. If then that friend demand

why Guzder rose against "Tradition", this is my answer:

--Not that I loved "Tradition" less, but that I loved the doongerwadi

property, members of DDD-AG and of course my chair even more

Had you rather "Tradition" were living and

dragged to court by DDD-AG, than that "Tradition" were dead, to allow

tradidional Parsis to practice dokhmenashini albeit with DDD-AG enjoying the

lollypop of performing obsequies of barbecued souls at Ambawadi ?

As "Tradition" loved me, I weep for it;

as "Tradition" helped me gain support during elections, I rejoice at it; as

"Tradition" was giving me honour (remember I always wear the traditional

dagli and pheta), I honour it: but, as it was ambitious enough to challenge

DDD-AG, I slew it. There is tears for "Tradition's" love; joy for "Tradition's"

fortune; honour for "Traditions" valour; and death for "Traditions"

ambition. Who is here so base that would be a

bondman to "Tradition"? If any, speak; for him have I offended.

Who is here so rude that would not be a member of the elite DDD-AG? If

any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so

vile that will not love the eminent Doctors and powerful Solicitors of

DDD-AG? If any, speak;

for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

Credulous Parsis

None, Jamshedji, none.


Then none have I offended. I have done no more to

"Tradition" than you shall do to Jamsheji. The question of

"Traditions" death is enrolled in the Bhabha bungli at Malabar Hill; it's

glory not extenuated, wherein it was worthy, nor it's offences

enforced, for which it suffered death.

Enter Tirandaz and others, with "Traditions" body

Here comes his body, mourned by Rustom Tirandaz who,

though he had no hand in it's death, shall receive

the benefit of his dying, a place in the

hearts of all traditionals; as which of you shall not? With this

I depart,--that, as I slew "tradition" for the

good of Parsis, I have the same dagger for myself,

when it shall please my community to need my eviction.


Live, Jamshedji! live, live!

First Citizen

Bring him with triumph to Malabar hill.

Second Citizen

Give him a statue with his ancestors.

Third Citizen

Let him be the Parsi Pope.

Fourth Citizen

"Traditions" better parts

Shall be crown'd in Jamshedji.

First Citizen

We'll bring him to Malabar hill

With shouts and clamours.


My fellow Parsis!

Second Citizen

Peace, silence! Jamshedji speaks.

First Citizen

Peace, ho!


Good Parsis, let me depart alone,

And, for my sake, stay here with Tirandaz:

Do grace to "Tradition's" corpse, and grace his speech

Tending to "Tradition's" glories; which Rustom Tirandaz,

By our permission, is allow'd to make.

I do entreat you, not a man depart,

Save I alone, till Tirandaz have spoke.


First Citizen

Stay, ho! and let us hear Rustom Tirandaz.

Third Citizen

Let him go up into the public chair;

We'll hear him. Noble Tirandaz, go up.


For Jamshedjis' sake, I am beholding to you.

Goes into the pulpit

Fourth Citizen

What does he say of Jamshedji?

Third Citizen

He says, for Jamshedjis' sake,

He finds himself beholding to us all.

Fourth Citizen

'Twere best he speak no harm of Jamshedji here.

First Citizen

This "Tradition" was a tyrant.

Third Citizen

Nay, that's certain:

We are blest that the community is rid of tradition.

Second Citizen

Peace! let us hear what Tirandaz can say.


You gentle Parsis


Peace, ho! let us hear him.


Friends, Parsis, community members, lend me your ears;

I come to bury "Tradition", not to praise it.

The evil that traditionalists do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with "Tradition". The noble Jamshedji

Hath told you "Tradition"was ambitious:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath "Tradition" answer'd it.

Here, under leave of Jamshedji and the rest--

For Jamshedji is an honourable man;

So are they all, all honourable men and woman--

Come I to speak in "Tradition's" funeral.

"Tradition" was my friend, faithful and just to me:

But Jamshedji says "Tradition" was ambitious;

And Jamshedji is an honourable man.

"Tradition" hath brought many trustees home to D.N. Road

Whose burden did the community always endure:

Did this in "Tradition" seem ambitious?

When that DDD-AG cried for a lollypop, "Tradition" hath wept:

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Jamshedji says "Tradition" was ambitious;

And Jamshedji is an honourable man.

You all did see that at the Samast Anjuman meeting at Rustom Baug

All the trustees swore by tradition but which they now refuse: was this


Yet Jamshedji says "Tradition" was ambitious;

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Jamshedji spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love "Tradition" once, not without cause:

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for "Tradition"?

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And Parsis have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the Bhabha bungli there with "Tradition",

And I must pause till it come back to me.

First Parsi

Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

Second Citizen

If thou consider rightly of the matter,

"Tradition"has had great wrong.

Third Parsi

Has he, masters?

I fear there will a worse come in his place.

Fourth Parsi

Mark'd ye his words? They all swore by tradition at Rustom baug and in their


Therefore 'tis certain "Tradition" was not ambitious.

First Parsi

If it be found so, some will dear abide it.

Second Parsi

Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.

Third Parsi

There's not a nobler man in the community than Tirandaz.

Fourth Parsi

Now mark him, he begins again to speak.


But yesterday the word of "Tradition" might

Have stood against the world; now lies it there in the Bhabha bungli.

And none so poor to do it reverence.

O masters, if I were disposed to stir

Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,

I should do Jamshedji wrong, and Dinshawji wrong,

Who, you all know, are honourable men:

I will not do them wrong; I rather choose

To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,

Than I will wrong such honourable men.

But here's a parchment with the seal of "Tradition";

I found it in his closet, 'tis it's will:

Let but the commons hear this testament--

Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read--

And they would go and kiss dead "Tradition's" wounds

And dip their kerchiefs used as paiwand in it's sacred blood,

Yea, beg a strand of it for memory,

And, dying, mention it within their wills,

Bequeathing it as a rich legacy

Unto their issue.

Fourth Citizen

We'll hear the will: read it, Rustomji.


The will, the will! we will hear "Tradition's" will.


Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;

It is not meet you know how "tradition" loved you.

You are not wood, you are not stones, but Parsis;

And, being Parsis, bearing the will of "Tradition",

It will inflame you, it will make you mad:

'Tis good you know not that you are it's heirs;

For, if you should, O, what would come of it!

Fourth Parsi

Read the will; we'll hear it, Rustomji;

You shall read us the will, "Tradition's" will.


Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?

I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it:

I fear I wrong the honourable men

Whose daggers have stabb'd "Tradition"; I do fear it.

Fourth Parsi

They were traitors: honourable men!


The will! the testament!

Second Parsi

They were villains, murderers: the will! Read the will.


You will compel me, then, to read the will?

Then make a ring about the corpse of "Tradition",

And let me show you "Tradition" that made the will.

Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?

Several Parsis

Come down.

Second Parsi


Third Parsi

You shall have leave.

Tirandaz comes down

Fourth Parsi

A ring; stand round.

First Parsi

Stand from the hearse, stand from the body.

Second Parsi

Room for Rustomji, most noble Rustomji.


Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off.

Several Parsis

Stand back; room; bear back.


If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.

You all do know this Ambawadi: I remember

The first time ever traditional Parsis walked through it with the Fire of


'Twas on a winter morning, in thousands,

That day we overcame the orthodox/ reformist Divide and prayed as one


Look, in this place ran Dinshawji's dagger through:

See what a rent the pious and gentle Sillamai made:

Through this the well-beloved Jamshedji stabb'd;

And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,

Mark how the blood of "Tradition" follow'd it,

As rushing out of dokhma doors, to be resolved

If Jamshedji so unkindly knock'd, or no;

For Jamshedji, as you know, was "Traditions" angel:

Judge, O you gods, how dearly "Tradition" loved him!

This was the most unkindest cut of all;

For when the noble "Tradition"saw him stab,

Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,

Quite vanquish'd him: then burst it's mighty heart;

And, in his mantle muffling up it's face,

Even at the base of Munherji Khareghat's statue,

Which all the while ran blood, great "Tradition" fell.

O, what a fall was there, my communitymen!

Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,

Whilst DDD-AG flourish'd over us.

O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel

The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.

Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold

Our "Tradition's" vesture wounded? Look you here,

Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.

First Parsi

O piteous spectacle!

Second Parsi

O noble "Tradition"!

Third Parsi

O woful day!

Fourth Parsi

O traitors, villains!

First Parsi

O most bloody sight!

Second Parsi

We will be revenged.


Stay, communitymen.

First Parsi

Peace there! hear the noble Rustomji.

Second Parsi

We'll hear him, we'll follow him, we'll die with him.


Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up

To such a sudden flood of mutiny.

They that have done this deed are honourable:

What private agendas they have, alas, I know not,

That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,

And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:

I am no philanthropist, as Jamshedji is;

But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,

That love my friend; and that they know full well

That gave me public leave to speak of him:

For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,

Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,

To stir men's blood: I only speak right on;

I tell you that which you yourselves do know;

Show you sweet "Tradition's" wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,

And bid them speak for me: but were I Jamshedji,

And Jamshedji, Tirandaz, there were, Tirandaz

Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue

In every wound of "Tradition" that should move

The stones of doongerwadi to rise and mutiny.

Third Parsi

Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.


Yet hear me, communitymen; yet hear me speak.


Peace, ho! Hear Rustomji. Most noble Rustomji!


Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:

Wherein hath "Tradition" thus deserved your loves?

Alas, you know not: I must tell you then:

You have forgot the will I told you of.


Most true. The will! Let's stay and hear the will.


Here is the will, and under Tradition's seal.

To every Parsi Zarathushti it gives,

A religious duty to safeguard the rich heritage from erosion by heretics and


Second Parsi

Most noble Rustomji! We'll revenge "Tradition's" death.

Third Parsi

O royal Tradition!


Hear me with patience.


Peace, ho!


Moreover, tradition hath left you all of doongerwadi in sacred trust,

The bunglis for religious ceremonies, in accordance with the Zoroastrian

religion and not for unZoroastrian practices, as the nobel Dada had opined,

On this side Ambawadi; tradition hath left them you,

And to your heirs for ever, for Zoroastrian Religious purposes,

To walk Chinvat, and recreate yourselves.

Here was a "Tradition"! When comes such another?

First Parsi

Never, never. Come, away, away!

We'll lay tradition's body in the holy dokhma,

And with the cremation fire turn to ashes the pipe dreams of DDD-AG

Second Parsi

Go fetch fire.

Third Parsi

Pluck down the reformists.

Exeunt Parsis with the body of tradition


Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,

Take thou what course thou wilt!

Enter a Servant

How now, fellow!


Sir, all the High Priests have already come to Mumbai.


Where are they?


They are at the Athornan Madressa speaking with one voice and mobilizing

their flock.


And thither will I straight to visit them:

They come upon a wish. Fortune is merry,

And in this mood will give us any thing.


I heard them say, Jamshedji, Dadiba and Dinshawji

Are rid like madmen through the gates of the Sir J.J. High School.


( To be continued....................)

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