It was a lazy Sunday morning. I was curled up on the sofa, reading the newspaper. I always read the newspaper. I think its important to know which third world country Brangelina is adopting their latest child from or the latest guy whom Kim Kardashian has divorced. I was deep in the perusal of such stimulating matter when my wife interrupted with a rather rhetorical question-
“So what are you going to do about your body?”
“Why ask? Is there an exchange offer available?” I queried.
I careful avoided her glare by lowering my eyes deeper into Alessandra Ambrosio’s assets.
“Be serious, can’t you?” This was one of her favorite advices to me. She was always wanting me to be serious about something or the other, except marital sex of course.
So I put on my most serious expression, the one that had served me ever since school days when the Principal used to give me particularly long lectures on the importance of a purposeful life and such things.
“You do realize that you’re woefully out of shape don’t you?” She began. I said that my shape was quite alright, it was just abstract art. Again the basilisk like glare. She continued:
“If your car ever gets a flat tyre, you just need to replace it with the one around your waist.” A low dig this one, I thought. Oblivious to my hurt feelings she went on:
“And you do realize that if you get into shape it will protect you from heart disease, diabetes and stroke?” This failed to terrify me – such things are only meant for laymen, doctors are above such infirmities. “And perhaps improve your sex life as well?” She added as a gentle afterthought.
Now that sent my brain into frenzied overdrive. It always shocks a man when a woman hints that his sexual performance or prowess has room for improvement. Every man likes to think that in matters of sexual knowledge, Casanova was just a much publicized over hyped ignoramus compared to himself. The possibility that I could be more desirable to my wife than I already thought I was, was something I had never imagined before.
So the next day I went to a gym. The owner was also the chief trainer. He looked like a man who could lift Atlas holding the Universe on his shoulder without breaking a sweat. If he ever came in the way of a rampaging bull, the bull would probably screech to a halt and walk away with a profoundly apologetic tail tucked between his rumps.
“So what’s your goal? ” He asked. “Weight loss or muscle gain?”
I looked around the gym. The walls were covered with posters of grim looking men who all looked like bloated up versions of Hercules. I pointed to one of them – ” That one seems familiar? One of your students? ” I asked.
“That’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
Another poster was of a black chap with a genial smile on his face whose body seemed like a kindergarten kid’s abnormally broad V.
“That’s Ronnie Coleman. Seven times Mr Olympia.”
“Well there’s my goal.” I said. “Make me like that. How long will it take for me to be like him?”
“Thirty years. ” He said. “Old age would have wasted Ronnie by then.”
I thought I hate bodybuilders with a sarcastic sense of humor.
He started me on dumbbell curls. The first weight he gave me was so heavy that I couldn’t even lift it a millimeter.
“That’s too heavy. Give me a lighter one.” I protested.
“We don’t have anything lighter than 2 kg.” He said. What a singularly ill-stocked gym, I thought.
For bench press he didn’t give me any weights at all. He said the rod would be sufficient for me for a few days at least. I noticed a couple of teenagers sniggering. Damned overbuilt chunks of meat!
The next day I told my nurse to write out the prescriptions to the patients while I dictated them to her. I wasn’t even able to lift a pen.
This torture continued for a several days. My muscles had developed a permanent soreness, as if a particularly heavy and active elephant trampled me the entire night. My sex life had improved to zero. I descended into the deepest of slumbers as soon as my head hit the pillow. Of course, I may be getting sex daily while I was asleep, but only my wife could have told you about that.
To add to my woes, a clutch of girls also used to do their calisthenics under the trainer’s guidance during my time in the gym. Not only did their twists, stretches and bends distract me from my routine, but with this kind of stimulation I often felt the necessity for performing some more exercises in the privacy of my bathroom, which were of such kind that they made my hands and arms even sorer.
About a month later the gym trainer said to me-
“Your power doesn’t seem to be increasing. You need to take supplements.”
He gave me a huge container with the photograph of a ferociously muscular man engraved on it. It cost me about the yearly interest I earned on my fixed deposits.
“So how long will this last me?” I asked. “A year?”
“If you use it correctly, it should last you fifteen days.” This guy obviously thought I was Bill Gates.
“Do you think one of those lotions that are advertised in the newspapers for women would work for me? I mean the sort of magical poultices that when applied to a Tibet like flat chest produce Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga in the matter of a month or so? Should work for my pectorals as well, and would be more conducive to my general temperament.”
He did not reply. Gym trainers are like your wife this way. They never reply to the really important questions.
I took the thing home, and I had to drink it surreptitiously, because my daughter thought that it was a new flavor of Horlicks which I was deceitfully depriving her of and started bawling pretty disconcertingly. I finished five of those yucky tasting boxes. My wife dutifully measured my biceps with an inch tape every day, but stopped on my hinting that the exact sameness of the measurement on each occasion could only be attributed to incompetence in applying the proper measuring technique on her part.
Five months later, I stood before my gym trainer – a miracle in the history of bodybuilding. All the principles of weight training and nutrition applied with perfect scientific exactitude and backed by rigorous military discipline, had failed to produce an iota of difference in my physique. I stood then, the exact replica of how I had stood before him five months ago. The permanent grim appearance on his face had disappeared, replaced by a philosophical, Buddhist calm.
“This apparently, is not working.” He said.
For the first time in our association, our thoughts were entirely similar. I nodded in agreement.
” I think, the best thing for you is to take a break from bodybuilding. A long break. Perhaps, a permanent one.”
My heart leaped with joy. I wanted to hug him, but refrained because of the persisting popularity of Ghulam Nabi Azad’s ideas in the general public’s mind. Instead I just beamed at him and said that I thought it was a very good idea. As I was walking away, feeling like a bird let out of cage to fly into the blue sky, when he called out.
“Oh, and just one thing. I would really appreciate it if you never told anybody that you have taken training at my gym. It wouldn’t be the best thing for business if this fact got out, and you must realize that I have two kids to feed.”
Yes sir, this was exactly what he said to me.