Hormusji is stretched out on the easy chair. Darabshaa is sitting in one of the chairs. Between them, on the floor, a bottle and two glasses. They talk softly.

Hormusji: No end to this heat...

Darabshaa: The hottest summer in 50 years, today’s paper says.

Hormusji: They’ve been saying the rains will be here in 48 hours

Darabshaa: For the last ten days! If they say it often enough, their luck is bound to change. It’s like bluffing in flush.

Hormusji (laughs): Haven’t had a good game of flush in years...(burps)...Excuse Excuse me. Had a little too much to eat at lunch. Piroja’s dhandar-sauce.

Darabshaa: Mine was that sickly khichri-kuhri from Patuck’s. Every day the food they send gets more and more inedible.

Hormusji: Such are the travails of bachelorhood, Darabshaa. Put an ad in Jame – Wanted a good-natured, middle-aged Parsi lady from a good family...for a handsome, elderly, retired schoolmaster. (Darabshaa breaks into a loud giggle. Hormusji hushes him quickly.) Shhh. If Piroja wakes up, we’ve had it.

Darabshaa: Shall I go...?

Hormusji: No, no. Sit. We’ll keep our voices low. Be comfortable.

(Darabshaa slips off his shoes and shares the easy chair’s leg-rest with Hormusji).

Darabshaa: Last night, three more people were killed. One had acid thrown in his face.

Hormusji: I read about it. For two days, everything was quiet. Now they’ve started again.

Darabshaa: Who knows where all this may spread?

Hormusji: A bunch of illiterates! That’s what they are. Choking with jealousy...

Darabshaa: It’s not easy to understand all this hatred...When there’s not enough to go around, I’ve seen even brother turn on brother. It has happened in my own family. In yours too.

Hormusji (disagrees): The old acquisitive instinct, Darabshaa...Snatch, snatch! Maharashtra for Maharashtrians! Indeed! After we Parsis have built the whole city!...Now if the British were here, they would have just flogged one or two of them in a public place...

Darabshaa: Shhh. Don’t get excited. Piroja.

Hormusji (softer): Yes. You’re right. I get excited too easily...(sadly) Do you know, Darabshaa? In this very house, there’s something going on, which I don’t know of.

Darabshaa: What do you mean?

Hormusji: I don’t know. There’s some conspiracy afoot. For one week, Avan has been coming home late from work. If I ask her why, I get no reply. Sometimes both maidikri sit together and whisper. If I come into the room, they stop: abruptly. Do they think I’m a fool?...To tell you the truth, Darabshaa, in this house I am made to feel no more important than a pile of old newspapers waiting to be sold for small change.

Darabshaa: Every morning before I leave my bed, I give my blessings to old Aimai aunty. Without the cheque she sends every month, where would I have been?

Hormusji: It all boils down to money, doesn’t it? Because I’m not earning, they treat me like dirt...What about Fali? He makes a packet at his bookie business. Rusi doesn’t send a pice. And he won’t even write regularly.

Darabshaa: Tomorrow I will go and see Aimai about this month’s cheque.

Hormusji: Harkness Road! Why don’t you ask her to post it?

Darabshaa: No, no. She’ll never do that. Every time I see her, it’s the same story. She’ll be waiting for me in the huge mirror room, with her silver tea set and her Flemish porcelain. We will drink the pallid, lukewarm tea which she insists on pouring herself, even though her hands shake so much, half of it she spills. Then she will mumble to me...(Hoarsely) “Darab” and put her head in my lap so that I may caress it. I don’t mind, Hormusji! I will caress her if I want to. Why should I not? For 30 years I have lived off her. Aimai will be 90 soon.

Hormusji: I have made some mistakes too, in my time. But none but the One-Above has any right to judge us harshly.

Darabshaa: He will understand, Hormusji. He understands better than any of us. They will call us scoundrels and wastrels because we drink. But no. We drink because we are scoundrels and wastrels and worthless pigs and because we know it. Forgive me if what I say is wrong. But I drink so that I may feel twice as bad and twice as sad for still being alive. Without a bottle I would feel dead...(Suddenly starts and looks around as though he had heard a voice.) Who said that? I’ve heard that somewhere before...But it’s so true. So true.

Hormusji: What you say is true, Darabshaa. No one understands me so well as you do. You’re my best friend. (They are both slightly sentimental, as friends drinking together can be.)

Darabshaa: I was an idealist, Hormusji. I wanted to teach...heh, heh, yes... But I did not have the temperament of a teacher. I could never keep discipline in my class. The boys would hoot and whistle at me. When I walked into class, I would find the blackboard scribbled with obscenities. Then they even started shooting paper pellets...I tried to bully them, thrash them. But they saw through my threats. They could see clearly I was nothing but a pompous fool. Every evening when I went home, I would find the back of my shirt and the seat of my trousers fully covered with ink stains...One day I thought it might help to go to class with a half-peg inside me...(Pours himself another drink)...I tried another job only once. As a clerk. By then I was drinking too heavily. I was sacked even there...(Hormusji nods sympathetically, sighs). Yes, I drink. And I will keep on drinking, and I’m glad that I drink. I drink so that I may never forget what a wretch I am. The day I can’t have my pint I’m a dead man.

Excerpted with permission from Doongaji House: Selected Plays, Cyrus Mistry, Aleph Book Company.