“Ok. So when do get to eat FOOD?” I ask with what I think is a humourous tone. The dietician unfortunately does not see the humour, gives me one of her ‘O-lord-why-is-this-girl-such-a-mess’ looks and continues to fill me in with a long list of DON’TS – “ no potatoes, rice, egg yolk, yoghurts, ice – creams, soft-drinks, desserts, pasta, cheese, red meat……….and Chocolates”
Now did I just imagine it or did the frumpy dietician actually have a sinister look on her face while saying “Chocolate”? Is it because she can see the wrapper of Lindt peeping out of my pocket or because she enjoys my look of misery at being disallowed to eat the things I actually care about for the next three months? Or probably it may be her way of getting back at me for giggling constantly during the time she tried to measure my dimensions with her measuring tape. It is not my fault – I happen to be overtly ticklish.
As I walk back home, I try to come up with believable excuses to get out of this wretched diet plan. The first thought which strikes me is telling mother that the dietician had boldly announced that I was just fine and did not need a diet – a few miles’ walk every week would just be fine. Obviously mother will not believe this fabrication – she trusts the weighing machine more than she trusts her own daughter. Dejected as no more brilliant ideas come to me, I continue dragging myself home with slow and heavy steps [heavy, partly because of the apathy that had befallen me and partly because my slightly excessive weight would not allow me to trot any faster].
I take a longer route on purpose to avoid crossing my favourite ice-cream parlour which lies on the way. It has the best sundaes in the entire world! The mere thought of giving up the dreamy scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice-creams topped with freshly ground nuts, hot chocolate syrup, frothy cream and small chunks of nougat, forces me to fight back my tears. The bakery at the end of the lane however, is an unavoidable affair. The old lady at the counter gesticulates animatedly as I walk past her shop, to come and try a sample from her new batch of home-made coconut and raisin macaroons. I have been her friend and food-critic for the past five years and it is unfortunately time to let go. Throwing a feeble smile and giving some excuse about having an urgent chore to do, I try to get away as fast as I can from the delicious aroma emancipating from her kitchen.
“I told you it was time to lose weight” – this was definitely not the welcome I expected from my folks when I reached home, but my sister feels it is her obligation to open the dialogue by these words. I throw her the nastiest look I can muster and march into my room. Sticking the diet plan in an obscure and least visited corner of my room [i.e. above the study table] I squat on the bed thinking about all the food fantasies that I would have to give up. Butter muffins, mutton kebabs, walnut cookies, milkshakes, French fries….I convulse with the pain clawing at my heart [and more importantly my tummy!]
I look at my reflection in the mirror. I do not really see a reason for mother’s sudden emergency for me to lose weight. Yeah, I am a little on the wrong side of the ideal weight scale, but it is not that bad as to cause a mad furore. I have always had a wide-framed body structure which will never actually make me look skinny and I do have a questionable liking for loose, ill-fitted and comfortable clothes. But hey! That is a style statement in its own sense. People always see me as a friendly, harmless creature who is always available to get bear hugs from when they are sad. Every time I climb on the weighing machine on mother’s insistence and it unceremoniously announces that I have gained another few kilos, I console myself by thinking that there is “More of me to love now”. But my folks do not seem to understand that. And having a sister, who looks like a walking skeleton with a layer of skin added as an after-thought, does nothing to salve the situation. My tightest dress fits her like a flowing robe and she makes sure I am continuously reminded of that.
I am not averse to physical activity. I walk a lot and dancing is my second favourite thing in the world – after food obviously. I have always been a foodie. Going to different places, trying out new cuisines, making exciting dishes from mother’s old recipe book – handed to her by her mother is so much fun. Safe to say, I am considered a chef’s delight as well as a delighting chef. Whether it was a gourmet speciality at a classy restaurant, the inviting smell from a not-so-inviting roadside Chinese stall or the wafting smell of bacon rashers being cooked at home – it never fails to reinvigorate me.
How in the world would I, or anyone else for that matter, sign off from all this and eat food that is absolutely in opposition to what is defined as a meal? And chocolate – fittingly described as the ‘Food of Gods’ – is something I can go on waxing eloquent about. How would it be possible to give it all up? It is not the question of will power, it is the question of injustice inflicted on food lovers such as me.
And the diet plan sounds like food meant for patients. No oil, no ghee, no butter, no masala – where is the fun in all this. And no desserts! What about the perfectly round gulab jamuns that mother is making right now? I can smell them all the way through the closed door of my room as I imagine the golden-brown dumplings being soaked in clear rose-flavoured sweetened syrup and I almost choke at the thought of depriving myself of these rotund pleasures. It is not fair to judge people on the basis of what they eat while people like my anorexic sister are allowed to roam freely on the streets.
I do not think I will ever be able to go on a diet. Even if I starve myself for a month, I would probably never be able to achieve the much-favoured size zero. And even if I did, would it ensure that I was happy? Or would it mean a lifelong race in favour of starvation to maintain an hour-glass figure? I believe that a person is genuinely happy when his tummy is truly satiated. Insipid food is not exactly my idea of attaining nirvana. I would rather prefer to be round, happy and loved than stick-thin, unhappy and envied [like my sister].
The borborygmus going on in my tummy is a sign that neither of us [i.e. my tummy and me – yes I regard my tummy as a separate entity with a mind of its own] is ready for this kind of change. The diet plan proves to be my own personal nemesis – a battle that I willingly wish to lose. Probably there may dawn a day when I sit down, face reality and adapt to change. And I still do have some room to fill in my sweater!
But until then, I may not die-eating…but I am definitely not die-ting!!!