Today is Father’s Day and also International Day of Yoga.
There can be no better day to write this:
Arun uncle is my father’s closest friend. They did their PCS training together, and even opted to live in the same house- despite being given different homes as government officers- all because they were so close to each other.
I love talking to Arun uncle, because he is a wonderful person, and also because every time I speak to him I get new memories, new pieces to craft my patchwork quilt.
The last time I had a conversation with him was about a month ago. These conversations with Arun uncle are incomplete without an anecdote or two about my father. Many of those anecdotes are ones I have already heard before, from my mother. But the information he gave me this time had never been given me by anyone else.
“Your father was an avid yoga-lover!” said Arun uncle.
“Really?” I was most surprised.
“Oh yes. Every morning he would practice yoga, and he would be very annoyed if someone disturbed him or prevented him from following his yoga routine. And was he flexible! His body was far more flexible than ordinary people’s!” he beamed.
It was delightful to hold in my mind this new piece of the puzzle. My father was a Yoga practitioner!
Arun uncle continued. “He loved playing cricket as well. We were both young and single, and we would play with the teenage and young adult kids of the officers in the colony. And he would refuse to accept that he was bowled out. We would playfully bicker with those kids over batting longer!”
Yeah, that sounded absolutely like Papa. Even when we played Monopoly or Carrom at home, he made it a point to ‘cheat’ in the game, in full view of everyone else–just to create mischief and a little bit of laughter. That’s the kind of person he was. Always trying to cheer people up, to create little moments of mirth.
“And we played badminton together. He was very good at badminton.”
Yes, that I knew for sure! He made it a point to play badminton with me in the evenings, and encouraged me to take up sports as much as I could.
But the part about yoga fascinated me far more.
My father was so many things. Officer. Poet. Literature-lover. Sports-lover. Public speaker.
And religious orator.
During the days of Moharram, he used to read Majlis in whatever time he could spare from work. Those who heard him addressing the majlis still remember how well he spoke, with such fervour. Majlis gatherings are deeply spiritual Islamic gatherings, commemorating Imam Husain and the martyrs of Karbala. Commemorating the sacrifices of Syeda Zainab and the lady warriors of Karbala.
And now, juxtapose this image with that of a yoga practitioner. And a jolly prankster.
The mischievous mystic. Like a Laughing Buddha.
My father truly made ‘border-dwelling’ a real calling in life.