157MERWAN IS BORN1914
Babajan smiled at the two ladies and muttered, "Merwan ... Mera piarra beta."
Babajan's remarks intensely irritated Memo, who turned to Golandoon and said, "The nerve of her to call Merog her son. How dare she!"
Babajan kept muttering, "Merwan ... He will shake the whole world ... He will awaken the world."
When asked by Memo what she meant, Babajan refused to explain. Soon Babajan shifted the focus of the conversation and had Grandmother Golandoon reminiscing about the old days in Persia. Much to Memo's chagrin, Golandoon (who had a sweet voice) and Babajan ended up singing together in Persian, weeping and swapping stories.
World War I started in July 1914, and in that same month, on 10 July, Merwan's youngest brother Adi was born. At some point, Sheriarji purchased another teashop on the road leading to Asurkhanna, in the cantonment area. As there were no living accommodations behind the new Café Sheriar, he and his now larger family moved to nearby Bhopla House at 816 Butler Mohalla.
Merwan selected a small, dark cubicle for himself upstairs in the attic at Bhopla House. His tiny hideaway was referred to as Chor Mal — the Thief's Den — and, during the process of regaining normal consciousness he would spend the whole day there, sitting in solitude in total darkness. On rare occasions he would go out for a stroll with his former friends such as Khodu, Tirandaz, Kaikhushru Irani (nicknamed Lattoos, meaning stout) and another friend named Beheram Hoshang Faredoon Irani (nicknamed Behramji and later Buasaheb), who had migrated to India from Persia.
From childhood, Merwan had been averse to eating meat, fish and chicken; he preferred a vegetarian diet, and would advise his companions and others who came in his contact to become vegetarians. During this period, his mother thought he would become weak by not eating animal protein and stopped cooking vegetarian dishes for him, forcing him to eat whatever was prepared. His meals were sent to him upstairs. Merwan would eat, sitting at his small writing table, and, when nobody was watching, dump the non-vegetarian food in one of the drawers. At the opportune time, he would put it in paper and threw it away in a narrow lane at the back of his house.