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Monday, May 03, 2010

IV Mahajirzadeh: The Great Hand Car Wash

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi
III Mahajirzadeh: Choti and the Siami Begum 

We started this qissa with childhood memories and a shiny sleek car. That was his black Pontiac. Not only the neighbours, but many others in the city were jealous of his Ponti. I am sure we have known other Mahajirzadehs. If you know some stories please regale us with them. Somebody has attributed this to Mahajirzadeh; human relationships are transitory and can look after themselves, but one has to invest in un-human relationships.

Hand car wash was perfected to a tee by Mahajirzadeh. Every Sunday morning he would stand in his balcony like a symphony conductor. The Ponti was silently rolled out of the garage into the driveway and parked beside a row of neatly arranged buckets full of water. Yes, the enmity between water and tap flourished even in those good old days. At the end of the bucket row, Haji Uncle's old family servant Bachchu Chacha's many children would form a column in order of height. Bachchu Chacha, wearing black rubber Bata slippers, the one with two eye shaped holes in the front, heels worn out of existence, stood out at the end of this column like an exclamation mark.

Mahajirzadeh would not speak during this ghus'l, ritual bath. Instead he would signal with his eyebrows. His commands would be interpreted by Bachchu Chacha, the sergeant major, and relayed by him to the troops. With communication lines thus established the youngest four were commanded to soap and wash the tires. The eldest two would soap the car from front to back and then wash it away with clean water. At the very end, the children would go back and stand in a column. Bachchu Chacha would slap the chamois on the bonnet and start shining it. When this ceremony was over, Mahajirzade

ah would come downstairs, and without glancing at the shiny clean car file past the children giving each a chawanni --a quarter. Almost like any middle order government beaureucrat entering his office without acknowledging half raised arms or bodies of clerks, chaprasis and tea boys salaaming him.
The Ponti is still there, in pristine shape. Now it has joined the rank of rare collectibles and is worth many times more than its original value. The children, alas, are grown, worn out and aged as the children of the poor are so prone to do. One or two are dead too.

next: V Mahajirzadeh:Laws of Ventilation and Other Quotes on Monday May 10


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