Symbols of the world's religions



Mani S. Irani

My father was 25 when he "proposed" to my mother, who was then five years old. It happened this way.

When in the course of his ascetic wanderings (dervishi) in India he stopped by to see his sister who was living in Poona — his only relative, apart from his brother, who migrated to India (the rest lived on in Iran). The sister adored Sheriar and bemoaned the fact that he had renounced the worldly life in search for God.

She was overjoyed to see him and did not want him to go away again, so at great length she pleaded with him in words and tears, and begged him to get married and settle down with her in Poona, and she promised to find him the right wife.

At this my father chuckled, and just then saw a little girl of five, clutching her writing-slate, pass by the entrance of the house on her way to wherever she was going. She was going as a matter of fact for her morning lessons to a neighbour's house, and was dressed in a short frock and her favourite red ijar (loose quarter-length trousers — or drawers — worn at the time) with a red ribbon at the end of her little pigtail.

As my father saw the child, he pointed at her and said to his sister "All right, if I marry I marry her, and no one else!" He realized the absurdity of his proposition, but it had been intentional, meant to put an end to his sister's further coaxings and argument.

He was stunned, therefore, when his sister took him up on it, and seemed dead serious about it! She held him to his promise, knowing he would never go back on his word, and now all she had to do was to see her friend Golendoon, the mother of that child, whose name was Shireen.

There seemed to be an unwritten code in those days which one adhered to at all costs — one could not go back on one's word, nor break a promise given in jest or earnest. My aunt rushed to her good friend and neighbor Golendoon, and revealing the incident of that morning begged her "on her knees" to save her dear brother and her happiness by consenting to give her daughter to her brother Sheriar in marriage.

This sincere and passionate appeal soon melted Golendoon's heart, and before long she found herself saying yes and consented to give her five-year-old daughter Shireen in marriage to 25-year-old Sheriar, an ascetic who had renounced his worldly goods and ties so that He might find God.

Her husband (my grandfather) raged and raved when he came home and heard what my grandmother had done — there were daily scenes between the two, but my granny would not budge, simply saying she had given her consent to her good friend, and could not break her word!

My grandfather never got over it, and years later, when Sheriar and Shireen were married, he did not attend the wedding — but later was resigned to it; his main objection was the great difference in age.


LETTERS OF LOVE FOR MEHER BABA, pp. 292-293, ed. Jane Barry Haynes
1997 © EliNor Publications


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