Over to Sarah from Hyderabad.
“We were all teasing each other, playing a game of opposites (saying the opposite of what we think), and I was told that I was ‘so thin’. And the opposite of thin is … Since then, I’ve considered myself fat. I was nine.
I developed a medical condition that gave me a swollen Fallopian tube finger-thing (whatchamacallit) with four and a half litres of fluid in it. And everyone suspected it was just me getting fatter. My abdomen distended and I ate less and less. I used that old catalogue-order tummy-trimmer exercise thingie obssessively, until one day I twisted something (while watching WWE) and got a tummy ache that wouldn’t go away. The ultrasound stunned everybody – how could this have gone on so far without anyone noticing!
To be fair, my mum was the only person who had suggested that perhaps there was a problem and I needed to see a doctor, but every time she did, everybody, shut her down because everybody was convinced I was just fat and it was my fault. Including me.
But now, with surgery my belly went away, almost overnight, and I was suddenly not fat. But I never stopped feeling fat.
Not when I went to college and lost weight, thanks to the hostel food. By then, my ‘problem area’ had become my butt.
Not when I got a more generous allowance in college, skipped hostel food, and put on some weight .
Not when I went through my first bad breakup and decided food wasn’t very important and lost so much weight that I was quite underweight. Even then, I didn’t feel thin enough.
Not now, in my thirties with the metabolism creaking and the added kilos. Mind you, I’m not saying I’m fat. Because I still see how bigger people are treated and what astounding and unfair privilege I have there. But I still feel fat. I begin to wonder if I always will, even as I look back and wonder why I didn’t live in a skintight catsuit through most of my twenties because I was hot. Damn, I wasn’t fat!
But that’s all background. The only amusing thing about my unhealthy relationship with my size and my body, happened once when I was walking home from school. A chap on a bicycle suddenly recited, with a lot of feeling, “thannathellam thinneedennal pimbil daivam thanneedum!”
What a couplet! It had such rhythm and rhyme. It scanned well. It roughly translated to, “If you eat everything given to you, god will give behind you.” A comment on my big butt. It sounds much better in Malayalam, I must say.
I was a schoolgirl, in school uniform, going home, and a middle-aged man decided to comment on my ass. Awful, right? But I didn’t feel bad. I stopped, a little stunned, and I laughed. I laughed and laughed, and then I chuckled all the way home.
I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because I had sadly gotten used to less amusing kinds of comments / harassment! I still laugh when I think of the incident. It’s one of very few things connected to my body that amuses me. I mean… I don’t remember much from my prosody classes except how to scan iambic pentameter and I’m pretty sure that’s poetry, even though very crude.”