At some point of my life, roughly 83 hours and 52 minutes ago, I got tired of hogging on all the Rasgulla, Gulab Jamuns, Rabri, and all those deep fried masses of sugars and calories. Nothing triggered it, it just happened. I guess it’s like giving up on smoking (or getting rid of that loser of a boyfriend you should have left 5 years ago). You have been thinking of doing it for a while, and every time you try, you just fail. Then one fine morning, you wake up and just do it. I think the same happened to me. I have been unhappy with the way I have put on weight for the last few years. From being a person who jumped at the center of the screen whenever I spotted a camera, now I started shying away from the camera, finding a comfort spot behind somebody so that my paunch was hiding. Paunch I could still hide wearing appropriate clothes, but where would I hide my face, a big round blob of fat now with chubby cheeks? It’s been years since I’ve seen my face oval, the original way God designed it. Anyway I will rant about my body and looks some other time (I promise I will). I will not spare you, I will even rant about my huge biceps, till you are bored to death. Anyway.
So one fine day I just decided to give up on the empty calories. This was the least I could do, since I wasn’t committed to gymming and working out big time. The mangoes looked at me from the fridge expectantly and I looked back at the mangoes with pain. The neighbor who makes awesome “Patisaptas” (sweet crepes stuffed with coconut and jaggery and sometimes condensed milk filling) was promptly asked not to make those for my goodbye dinner in 5 days. Convincing mother wasn’t a problem since she has always been after me to lose weight, but convincing neighbors and relatives who believe in increasing their good karma by stuffing another Rasgulla into your mouth became a big problem. I turned down two dinner invitations feigning a stomach ache because it is futile to argue and explain to these people why I will not hog on the coconut cream based prawns, the deep fried potato tikkis, and the four courses of dessert following a five course dinner. Not that I have slimmed down overnight, but I still intended to stick to my decision of not eating rubbish.
So I went to visit my ex-student’s place. I taught her Math for 4 years and though she sucked at Math, we became great friends. Ironically I was the one who told her that Math isn’t everything in life, but as long as she studies it, she should do it well. I go visit my student after 4 years, and aunty (her mom) gets me a huge brown chocolate pastry and a tall glass of chilled iced tea. Poor aunty is familiar with my eating habits four years ago when I used to religiously devour every sweet she put on my plate (I don’t just have A sweet tooth, my entire dentition is sweet !!). Today I had already reached the stage when I was having sugar withdrawal symptoms, a little dizziness in my head and a very irritable temper caused by it. Not that I was starving or dieting, I just decided not to hog on high-calorie, low-nutrient stuff.
My plea of neither touching the chocolate pastry nor the iced tea fell on deaf ears. I promised I was more than happy sipping on a glass of cold water, but she wouldn’t understand. I tried reasoning with her, feigning a stomach ache, but nothing worked. Poor aunty must have been worried what she would offer me instead; maybe she didn’t have too many options. When nothing worked out, I had the most innovative idea. The only problem with that was, well, I can plan a lie beforehand and deliver it well, but when I make up an instant lie, I usually get caught.
“Aunty, please don’t insist. I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol”.
I don’t know why I said it, but it was one of those things you say first and think later. It sounded odd to my ears, high cholesterol at 28?
“Oh dear, sorry about it”. Aunty promptly put back the goodies away.
So we sat in an uncomfortable silence the next few minutes, aunty too shocked to ask me to eat anything and me too scared to speak lest I am caught.
“So how did it happen?”, she asked. “Family history?”
Now something in me refused to malign my impeccable family history. I was already feeling guilty for making up illnesses I do not have.
“Uh, not really. Just a bad American lifestyle. Not eating well and all”.
So the conversation drifted to normal soon. We spoke about this and that.
“Where did you get your tests done?”
I must admit I was totally unprepared for the question that caught me off guard. I was about to say our family doctor’s name in Kolkata, but something in my head was screaming our family doctor is aunty’s brother-in-law too.
“Aa- aa- bbb- bbb….”
Aunty stared at me stammer.
“Bbb—bbb--- Bellevue clinic”
“Which one? In Kolkata?”, she asked.
“No no, the one in Seattle? Bellevue clinic in Seattle”
“My memory getting bad aunty. These days I forget names so often”, I explained lamely.
The chocolate pastry stared at me from the corner of the room for the next 30 minutes, untouched. I came back later that night and had healthy roti and subzee for dinner. I wonder if aunty ever realized I gave her some instantly concocted lie. Even if she did, I’m sure she would know it was an innocuous,
fat fat-free lie.