Goher’s Childhood Visits to Khushru Quarters
In the 1920s, when Goher and her sister Katie were growing up in Quetta, they often traveled to Ahmednagar with their mother during their school holidays to stay with their mother’s sister at Khushru Quarters.* Sometimes there would be as many as 30 people living in the compound, so the prospect of staying there was very thrilling to them—especially coming from their secluded and restricted life in Quetta. These visits were also a wonderful opportunity for the girls to see Meher Baba, as He often visited the Quarters.
In her unpublished memoirs, Goher recalls some of these times:
There was always much excitement for us when we stayed at Khushru Quarters with our Aunt Soona. A large and lively extended family lived in the compound, so there was always something happening to catch our interest. There was a roomy kitchen for common use. A long dining table, seating at least 20 people, stood on the veranda near the kitchen. The children would be served first, then the adults would all eat together.
What later became Mani’s office served as the sitting room for all the families living in Khushru Quarters. At night everyone would gather on the verandah just outside this sitting room to relax and talk. It was a lovely, happy atmosphere. But there was also a fiery side to some of the adults—especially the brothers-in-law, Adi’s and Sarosh’s fathers, the “two Kaikhushrus.”
Adi K. Irani’s father, Khan Saheb Kaikhushru Sarosh Irani (standing left with hand across his abdomen)
Not everyone in Khushru Quarters believed in and felt love for Baba. Sarosh’s father, Kaikhushru Ardeshir, in particular did not accept Baba and was, in fact, very much against Him. Initially Kaikhushru had had a fondness for Him. In the evenings he would sit with Baba and listen to Him read Persian and sing devotional songs. But later the Zoroastrian community poisoned his ears and when Baba declared Himself to be Sadguru (Perfect Master), Kaikhushru could not tolerate that. He was very much tied to tradition and would not allow anyone to even mention Baba’s name in his house.
Even though we stayed with our Aunt Soona at Khushru Quarters when we came as children, we still had to face Sarosh’s father every day. I remember how he used to wake us in the morning at some unearthly hour—4:00 or 5:00 a.m. He would call us out from our beds, and present each with a bucket of hot water, ordering us to go promptly and take our baths. After the bath, we had to don our sadra and kusti and meet Kaikhushru outside. By then he had placed a stool near the hedge in the center of the compound and set an urn filled with incense on it to be lit during our prayers. Kaikhushru would gather us together around the big neem tree in the center near the burning incense and then return to his seat outside the communal kitchen where he watched us as he drank his morning tea. From his perch, he would listen attentively as we read our prayers from our prayer books to make sure we were reciting them properly. But to give him credit I also remember that, after it was all over, he gave us a lovely breakfast of bread, butter, maybe chapattis and a nice cup of hot tea.
Fortunately Kaikhushru had a business in the camp area of Ahmednagar, so all day long he was out of the house. Each morning at 7:00 a.m. his tonga took him to his shop where he sold sweets, bread, and other provisions—mostly to British officials and officers. He would not return home till 7:00 or 8:00 at night. But the old man was very cunning. After he got home in the evening, quietly he would call the children to him. Then he would interrogate us. “What happened today? Did Meher Baba come here? Who met with Him?” Or he would ask, “Where have you been today? Did anyone go in the tonga to Arangaon? Who was it that went?” He bribed us with sweets or other things we liked to eat. We were so small, and you know how children are: we couldn’t help but eventually blurt everything out.
Then what a row he would create! He would fight and be angry with the whole family, giving them hell. He was a terror, a very forceful personality. But the families tolerated his outbursts and this life of secretly going to see Baba would continue. Gradually, as we grew older and had more sense, we began to understand that Kaikhushru was against Baba, and so we too would keep Baba’s visits a secret to avoid a row with the old man.
Although Kaikhushru appeared to be opposed to Baba, Naja told me that when Baba celebrated His birthday at Meherabad, he was the one who cooked the rava for the guests gathered there. Kaikhushru was good-hearted and generous, but it was difficult for someone with his mindset to accept Meher Baba as God.
—Shelley Marrich for Avatar Meher Baba Trust, 19 January 2017
* Now the Meher Nazar Trust Compound
Goher is the child on the left, in 1923 in Ahmednagar.