Fort-Itude

The story of Padmavati, the Queen of Chittor is very popular. Not only because she outwitted the beastly emperor Alauddin Khilji, but also because she committed Sati, an act of self-immolation to protect oneself from imminent brutality from the enemy. While it may seem difficult to end one’s life and it sure takes courage, at times it is even more difficult requiring disparaging levels of fortitude to remain alive.

Zubin and Lilya were childhood sweethearts. They met as kids while cycling on Marine drive and slowly grew into each other to finally wed at the age of 22. Youthful, naive, and impressionable, they didn’t know what life would bring to them in the future. So blissful and much in love, the two of them stepped into their brand-new rented house. The joys of life. New beginnings. The Parsi new year was right around the corner and Lilya could not wait to get everyone in for a housewarming. Finding the house was a challenge, two-bedrooms for a young couple starting out was a luxury in Bombay, the city of dreams. But Lilya’s friend who worked in the construction industry as a real-estate broker managed to highlight one apartment on the block and Zubin agreed in a second. He worked in finance and Mumbai kept him totally busy. Analysing stock by day for clients and investing personal funds by night Zubin had chartered a path and left no stone unturned. Lilya on the other hand worked in fashion and was starting to design the wardrobe of Akaya Kapoor for her new film already touted to be a blockbuster. The two had busy schedules that wrought much a patience and forbearance. The apartment itself was the star of their lives at the moment. Done up by the luxury celebrity interior designer Sunaina Hussein, for a fraction. Zubin, Lilya were close friends with Sunaina’s husband Mustafa and they hung around together with a larger group of friends every now and then.

The days rolled by and between travels, time out with friends and work, Lilya and Zubin were blessed with a cherubic little boy whom they named Arshan. The maternal and paternal grandmothers Amira and Meher were over the moon, while the grandfathers Sarafraz and Rustom took their turns in bouncing little Arshan on their knees. The whole atmosphere was that of joy and the joy with which Zubin and Lilya walked into the apartment after their wedding, carried through all through their lives and surrounded them in an amber light making them feel ever so loved. Arshan soon grew up into a handsome young man. As a child he hung out with his Mum who spent hours in her creative studio or on the sets, and at times with his Dad in steely grey corporate offices. When he began his studies he studied finance like his Dad whom he considered his hero. But towards the time of his graduation and through his college hobby groups he discovered his penchant and inclination towards acting. The city of Bollywood crossed his path several times through his life. He landed an audition and then a role in a mega production house of Garmi Productions. Tarun Mohan who helmed the Garmi Productions put his money on this young man who looked handsome but worked twice as hard.

The first movie was a blockbuster. It opened to full houses all over the country and it was not going to be long before the movie reached the world at large. Arshan Mistry was a sensation, the success he saw was unprecedented. The man was charming and he charmed his way through life, through a movie after another, charming fans easily and effortlessly, he seemed to be born for this and everything came easy. Soon enough he met his sweetheart, another heartthrob of the nation, Sarah Wadia, their picture perfect love story became inspiration for several movies, some in which they starred together. Arshan and Sarah had twins, a girl and a boy, whom they called Alia and Bakhtayar who grew up happy in the hands of every indulgent Grandparents, Lilya and Zubin had their hands and their hearts full. This lovely family were all that dreams were made up of. There was nothing amiss and everything happened right. Fortune favours the bold they say and the whole country looked up to this ever so in love couple who’s every move was papped and who’s kids became India’s sweethearts. The love they received was immense.

Alia and Bakhtayar themselves scripted their own stories, Bakhtayar went forward into business, funding an airline and starting a multi-million dollar FMCG company that was ably marketed by his father and mother who became faces of the brand. Alia on the other hand ventured into politics. She roped in her star parents into becoming the face of her election campaign. The good sense of the family prevailed in every direction that they went. From salt to the cinemas, the Mistrys ruled the roost in a country that gave them so much love. They in return did everything in good faith, whatever they touched seemed to turn gold. The twins in turn fell in love, got married and had kids of their own. Alia’s husband a politician too Ram Nambiar was touted to be the next Prime Minister canditate in the country and he was sure to win. Bakhtayar married a very pretty Sophia Alexander who shimmered in beautiful clothes as she went about carrying out her charity initiatives. Their son became an acclaimed author who caught the nation’s fancy. Alia’s daughter Delnaz became a reputed journalist who was also nicknamed the Nation’s conscious. Lilya, like most Parsis lived a long and beautiful life. As Delnaz came on screen talking about news of the day Lilya thought back to the day of her marriage and when she first stepped into the apartment that made her so happy. As she looked out into the Arabian Sea she had thought, “I am so scared of what this life would bring. How we would live in this fast-paced city? How would we make our ends meet? And as she took in the salty air she thought to herself, “This is it. There will be no negative thoughts entertained, in my head or in the heads of my future generations to come.” And that made all the difference. That morning she set any thought of dismay on fire. Put the fear and scare on the Sati pyre. That was a beginning of the Mistry’s legacy.

Fortitude against fear, of any kind.

fortitude

/ˈfɔːtɪtjuːd/

noun

  1. courage in pain or adversity.