Physical exercise and yoga were my fatherâ€™s very favorite things. I sometimes felt that probably he liked it more than the taste of a good food.
My mother told us that he had started doing exercise from a very young age, while he was in school. Since he did not have any separate room of his own, he used to practice exercise in front of all the members of his family and was ridiculed by all because during his young days doing exercise was considered as â€˜wastage of timeâ€™ and developing tummy especially the one which many men develop post marriage was considered to be a â€˜sign of improving healthâ€™.
After his marriage, he had so successfully convinced my mother about the benefits of physical exercise that she also started doing physical exercise. Of course after marriage they started living in their own house so nobody knew that my mother was doing exercise.
The flexibility that my mother had acquired while doing exercise became very useful when she raised her four sons. Probably she found it not too difficult to stop with one hand one of his sons who had climbed on a door and was about to jump on the cement floor while used her other hand to pull back another son who had approached dangerously close to the burning coal oven in her kitchen.
Of course while raising her four monkey-natured sons she had to stop practicing physical exercises.
The most interesting thing about my fatherâ€™s physical exercise was that he created many new physical exercises by combining two to three physical exercises, commonly found in books or charts. For example he combined the exercise to strengthen his biceps and triceps with an exercise to strengthen his neck muscles. While practicing that â€˜fusion exerciseâ€™ he appeared like a dancer performing South Indian temple dance.
Our eldest brother who always tried to act like a hero in front of his younger siblings even dared to ask him one day why he combined two exercises into one. My father gave him a smile, which probably meant, glad that you have asked, and explained that one can train oneâ€™s mind to strengthen two different muscles at the same time by maneuvering two different organs simultaneously in a rhythm resulting into obtaining the benefit of two exercises by spending time for one. Immediately after that he gave him a stern look and mentioned that if his eldest son had some common sense he could have figured it out by himself without asking and then my father finished his sermon by saying a Bengali proverb â€˜jar-hoyna-noye, tar-hoyna-nobbuieâ€™ (he who has not developed common sense at his young age will remain stupid for the rest of his life). Our eldest brother, after being terribly insulted and not finding any word to salvage at least part of the lost honor, looked behind to see if any of his younger siblings had witnessed his embarrassment. But seeing the smiling faces of all his younger siblings he realized that the episode was not only witnessed but also thoroughly enjoyed by all.