63. Vanquishing Voldemort

63. Vanquishing Voldemort

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You


Determination can change your mind.
Determination can change your heart.
Determination can change your life altogether.
 ~Sri Chinmoy

Some are born fat and some achieve fatness. I was one of the former. . . my mum tells me when she laid eyes on me for the first time she was thrilled at how pink and healthy (read fat) I was. What I’d give to have been born a thin scraggly baby! My fight with fat began early. I was not even a teenager when my mum handed me a skipping rope and sat down to count my hundred jumps every day. I spent my teens picking at samosas, avoiding butter, counting calories and then bingeing helplessly.

Out of college, I found a job in Mumbai and left home. That was when my troubles began. Hostel food, no time to exercise, no time for proper meals, and the enemy returned with a whoop. Soon I was well and truly fat.

The comments followed. . . some funny, some irritating, some rude and some downright hurtful. However, I hadn’t lived with the enemy for so long without figuring out how to handle it. I was prepared. Besides, I found a friend, Suhani. Suhani and I sat back to back in the same cubicle. She was all I was and more—fat and funny, smart and witty. The barbs seemed to bounce off her chubby frame. There was no insult she couldn’t handle. . . no dig she didn’t have a repartee to. . . no taunt she couldn’t turn around. In fact our mutual enemy “fat” became the biggest joke between us. We christened it “Voldemort”—that almost invincible enemy, ready to pounce always. We hung around together. And we ate. . . how we ate! Our two-member chub club flourished.

One day, at work, I turned around to tell Suhani a particularly funny “fat” quote. To my utter shock I found her slouching on her chair. Her hands and feet stuck out at a weird angle. My heart skipped a beat. With rising panic I shook her, then splashed water on her face to no avail. Then I called for help. She was rushed to the hospital. Suhani had suffered a stroke.

I went to see her. She looked pale and helpless. She’d lost partial vision in both eyes and would be on bed for a month. She was a mere shadow of my bubbly friend. She gave me a wan smile and with a flash of her old spirit she said, “Voldemort almost got me this time, pal.” The truth of her statement hit me hard. She was right. The stroke could have cost her life, left her paralysed, or worse sent her into a coma. I gave an involuntary shiver. It could’ve been me, was the other thought that niggled.

Voldemort was an almost invincible enemy. . . almost. . . not completely. That became the starting point for us. Once Suhani was off the bed we started morning walks, 45 minutes every day. We ate carefully but we didn’t punish our taste buds. Besides the three major meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner—we made provision for two mid-meal snacks. We knew our weaknesses and worked around them. Sprout chaats, fruit salads, bhel and chutney sandwiches became the mainstay of our diet. We kept munching material handy—crunchy cucumbers, crisp apples, wheat biscuits. Our bottles of water went with us everywhere. We treated ourselves occasionally. However, if we made pasta we loaded it with veggies, skipped the cheese sauce for the tomato sauce, if we were dying for a pizza we’d have it but restrict ourselves to one slice each. Bingeing was out.

Surprisingly, the guys at work were supportive. They did jest about the end of the chub club, but not unkindly. The results were slow in coming. For almost two months nothing seemed to change. We slogged on and we waited.

Then the miracle happened. The jeans became a tad loose first, then we needed belts. . . wow! Then we were carrying clothes by the loads to the tailor for altering. XXLs changed to Ls. And the people were commenting. It felt. . . good!

We became ambitious, joined the gym while allowing ourselves the occasional slip-up. That year we celebrated Suhani’s birthday with a big bang. After all it was a new life for her and for me too.

~Tulika Singh

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