A disclaimer…or health warning if you will, before I proceed further : I have nothing against Yoga or its purported benefits…or against the thousands who are its diehard adherents. Amongst the aforementioned thousands is the wife…a self proclaimed Yoga Guru. This blog was occasioned when she recruited me as one of her disciples. She has great persuasive powers, my wife. Her arguments were centered on my sedentary lifestyle, how all the whiskey was ruining me, how my middle protuberance was a cause for family embarrassment…and how I had generally made an ass of myself since retirement. Get a life, she said…Go Yo!!
I have learnt better in 31 years of matrimonial bliss, than to push my case…and my defence…beyond a point. On the rare occasion that I won an argument, it came at a cost…almost like an open-ended loan, which is paid till you are laid (to rest!), and still left unpaid when you leave for the netherworld.
So, a used, frayed Yoga mat (my guru’s discarded durrie) in the armpit, I followed the Master and joined a motley group of 50 plus (age-wise) women in various stages and angles of contortion. I stole a glance to see if there were any pretty lasses too, to make my classes more interesting… alas, there were none. A reluctant participant in the first place, the ambience of the makeshift Yoga studio did little to enthuse me. But there was colour all around… printed leotards, rainbow headbands, multi-coloured wrist wear, snazzy tops…and a fair amount of make-up. Well, perhaps these were required to propitiate the Yoga gods…or maybe the Yoga guru. In my sleeping t-shirt and oversized bermudas, I was literally and figuratively the odd ‘man’ out.
I had joined in the middle of the session…this, and my attire, invited a stern, disapproving look from the Guru. Experienced wives can direct that look at you in a large crowd without anyone, but its intended target, noticing it. I decoded the look…apart from scorn which is part of all looks, it conveyed the following: do not be an embarrassment…and be a quiet learner. If I have learnt anything in these years, it is the ‘look decoding technique’. So I played ball… rather…decided to play by the Guru’s rules.
By now I was the centre of attention of the performing ladies…if only for what I wore, viz, a bemused expression and faded t-shirt with old bermudas. At that point (as, I imagine, at innumerable points in her life), the wife would have liked to disown me. But she grinned and bore it…Yoga had bestowed composure and self control, though I suspected I would be hearing more on this after the session.
For now however, I ‘took position’ (as a soldier does when ordered). Due to a congenital defect, I cannot sit cross legged on the floor. My wife knows this, but drew vicarious pleasure in ordering me to. So, as I tried to imitate the ‘asanas’, I fell back with a thud, with my bermuda covered posterior open to public view…. while this drew muffled titters from the ladies, from the Guru it elicited a furious I-am-going-to-kill-you look! Well, I collected the remnants of my frayed dignity and got back into position, the best that I could. A bit awkward, you would agree. But I was determined to prove myself.
Noticing my physical and mental discomfiture, and seized of her position as mentor, guru and more importantly, an acutely embarassed wife, the Master looked for an escape route for me…and for herself. She said, a bit sheepishly, I noticed, that I should do ‘Pranayam’…the simpler breathing exercises. In one of her kind moments, she also allowed me to sit on a chair. Breathe in and out, slow and easy, with your nostrils, she cooed. That was easy enough…or so I thought.
I did just that, I thought. But apparently, in my laboured inhalation & exhalation, I made enough noise to have the neighbours call in to ask if someone was dying. We live in a hostile neighborhood, and some might have actually savoured the thought that the old, irascible General may finally be copping it. What do you think you are doing… enquired the now flummoxed wife. Breathing, I said. Well, don’t she said. So, as a true disciple I stopped. In 45 seconds I turned blue…heard someone from far off asking someone, who asked someone else, to get water. I came around, was pleased to see some women fussing around me… but saw from the corner of my eyes that the Guru was mighty displeased.
Well, I shrugged my embarrassment and braced myself for the next lesson. In my breathless state, I heard the wife telling her students to ignore me and contort themselves into more unimaginable postures. I was asked to lie in ‘Shavasan’…play dead, in effect, which I suspect the ‘mater-familias’ has always wanted. Just lie down on your back, motionless. I did just that…and within two minutes launched, unwittingly, into a rhapsody of elephantine, monstrous snores, so loud, they drowned the instructions of the the mentor. Not pleasant at all, for the class. A rude nudge with the heel, I was told later, did nothing to change my state. In fact I was informed during the debriefing, this helpful prodding only made me turn around, get on my stomach and let go of grunts, sounds and expletives (here I thought she was exaggerating) which would embarrass a sailor.
But eventually I did rise… not to the occasion… but to fervent, renewed instructions and glares. I muttered something like I would hereinafter be a true disciple or some such inanity. But now the students, more than the teacher, would have none of it. Out with this cad, they said as politely as they could. He can be given instructions in private…let it be a family matter, rather than a public nuisance. This man belongs in a home, chipped in one fiery matron. He should not be let loose in public, added another, for good effect. All this while I was conscious and listening. My wan smile, conveying an apology, did little to assuage feathers…bulging midriffs, rather. The wife went with the popular sentiment and banished me from the studio. You are no good, never were in any domain…big mistake I got you in this, she seemed to say. She was never one to let go of this golden opportunity to have people air views which she had held from the day we were married.
So, with that look (remember the look decoding technique?) which said I-will-deal with-you-later, I was told to leave post-haste. I wore a hangdog expression, pretended the best I could that I was hurt at leaving something I loved, picked up my frayed durrie and the remnants of my pride…and withdrew.
Realised that it was only 6:45 am. So, changed into my golf rig and in 20 mins, was teeing off! There is going to be misery at the links too, I thought… but the kind of misery I like. Might as well fail at something you love, rather than something you dread. Readers may go through my blog ’18 till I live’ to gauge my tribulations vis a vis golf…but that’s another story for another day.
I dread getting back home after my nine holes. However, the soldier in me tells me…fear not…worse fates than a wife scorned in Yoga have awaited men. You will live to fight…or fake…another day.
Wish me luck!
© Sharabh Pachory, 2021. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction.
Cartoons from sources as indicated against each.