Today is Katie Irani's death anniversary. We at Meherazad remembered Katie by arranging a lunch of aamras (alphonso mango pulp), spicy potatoes and puris (little fried wheat breads) which was the last meal she asked for before she went to Baba. At Baba's dining table were a group of women who had been with Katie and remembered her and loved her. We all ate a wonderful meal and then we talked of Katie. Stories were shared and everyone could relate to each other's remembrances.
Here are a few of the stories shared:
Dolly Dastur spoke about how Katie was very particular not to waste anything, and this was because Baba had impressed on them that everything was precious, Baba's lovers gave money and they couldn't waste even a paisa of this gift. When the ladies needed even the smallest thing - a needle, some elastic, pins - the list would be given to Baba first and He would then cross out things that He didn't deem necessary. Dolly also spoke about Katie and her working at the Japanese Consulate in Mumbai, where later she got Dolly a job. Katie used to play ping pong (table tennis) with the Consul General. At first he was not very good, and she trounced him regularly, which made him very cross. But as the days went on, he was getting better rapidly, and she found out that the reason was that he made his wife play with him after the office closed, so that he could win against Katie. It was because of her association with the Japanese Consulate that Falu called Katie Katie-san, which is a Japanese form of respect.
Shelley shared reminisces of the last days, when Katie could not eat nor barely speak. She had asked Shelley to do three things for her once she passed on - colour in her eyebrows (Katie had white eyebrows and she coloured them in with pencil, often inaccurately!), put on her lipstick and put on socks on her feet which Katie thought were ugly and disfigured, and didn't want anyone to see when they came to pay their last respects. A few days before she died, Terry Adams came to see Katie and treated her to a 'spa' day, with manicure, pedicure, etc. and so Katie had painted nails when she went to Baba! Shelley also said that though she had become very thin her stomach was still protruding and when she laughed it would jump up and down. She never lost her sense of humour and even at the end she would laugh at a memory of a scene from 'Keeping up Appearances' (a British TV sitcom about a snobbish housewife). We all remembered her addiction to 'The Bold and the Beautiful', which she watched religiously for years and years. One day towards the very end, she was being helped to pass a stool, and Shelley reminded her that Baba would call this "Throwing out the Chinese", when He went to the toilet. Was Katie doing the same for Al-Quaeda who were at the time attacking Quetta, her hometown? Katie's stomach bobbed up and down, and she gasped "CNN!" She wanted to see if the Al-Quaeda were being thrown out!!
Davana spoke of her time working in the dispensary with both sisters, Katie and Goher, and the different instructions they would each give, often contradictory to the other. Katie was very frugal, having lived with Baba in the Ashram, but Goher had never had to undergo the hardships because she was away at medical school, so she was very generous with everything, and the sisters often clashed on how 'stingy' or 'wasteful' each was!
I shared stories of how Eruch, Aloba, Meherwan, Falu and the other men would tease Katie. Every evening Katie would come around to the men's side on her 'Duckie' - the electric chair that she used to get around - and ask how the meal was. Falu would always complain that there was no meat, and she would shout at him, "You ungrateful boy, where shall I get the meat? Shall I cut it out from my arms, my thighs? Why can't you say 'Thank you Katie san' just once?" They would also deliberately praise my cooking and say how good my cutlets were, which always made Katie complain that she had worked herself into the ground all these years only for them to praise this 'chokree' (girl)who had just arrived! This teasing Katie and her rising to the bait was a daily occurrence and all looked forward to it with great relish.
So we ate good food and talked of our Katie; cook, singer, actress, author, world-traveller and lover of Baba extraordinaire. Her love for her Beloved Baba shone through always, and after lunch we heard her singing Baba's poems and Arti and everyone, even the kitchen help, smiled with love and fond remembrance, missing our sweetie. She was Baba's 'perfect girs', whom he had wanted to take to the West with Him. Had her mother not refused permission, Katie would have gone with Him to Europe, England and the USA. Now she has gone home to Him, and we will always remember...