Naren was pacing nervously, up and down the maternity ward.
After what seemed eons, the nurse walked out gingerly.
“It is a girl.” She said softly. She was wondering if there would be any Bakshish. To her utter surprise, Naren hugged her tight and beamed, “The goddess herself, has come to our house in the navratras, to bless us!”. He gave her some money and rushed in, to check on his newborn and his wife Suma.
The nurse smiled. ‘There are some men left in this world!’, she thought, as she walked back to check on her other patients.
Naren called his precious, ‘Sundari’.
Sundari was born into a family that wanted only male progeny. Naren had been different. Work had taken him all around the world and broadened his thinking. He stuck out like a sore thumb in his ultra-traditional community, with his new-fangled ideas. But he cared a damn. After a son, he longed for a daughter and his wife gave him just that.
Sundari was pampered like a princess by Naren, though the relatives often cautioned the doting parents, that she might grow up to be a difficult one. God knows about that.
She definitely grew into a heavy one!
Initially, Naren and Suma thought it was the puppy fat which would get shed by teenage. As a teenager, when Sundari became bulkier, they thought, by college time, she would become svelte by sheer peer pressure.
Nothing changed, only soaring weight remained constant.
Naren and Suma tried to enforce dieting on Sundari, but Sundari’s hungry and pinched face would melt their hearts. Naren and Suma would then put her in a gym or under a yoga instructor. Her aching body and her tired bleating, broke their resolve as quickly as it was made
All the weight containing measures were given up halfway because parental love became overloaded.
Luckily, Sundari was an exemplary student all through, winning accolades and trophies. She was the teachers’ pet and the confidant of girls and boys. Life was just great.
But, by the first year of college, Sundari, was no longer in the protected environs of home. She often became the butt of cruel jokes by all and sundry. Though she dealt with the situation, with a heavy hand and gave it as good as she got, her tender heart still shed many silent tears.
As soon she decided to stick to a weight loss regime, it was exam time. Now, we all know, studying and snacking go together. Over hot samosas and cream rolls, Sundari was often seen holding court, clearing the doubts of her classmates, as she effortlessly aced her exams with great grades. The cruel jokes stopped instantly. She was anointed the Gyan-Guru for all matters.
Soon, it was time to leave college. Most found jobs and their soul-mates. Sundari was again left high and dry, with no love interest in near sight.
Vexed with her alone situation, Sundari decided to check into a Health-Spa, as a last ditch effort, before she joined work.
Naren and Suma agreed and also prayed, that she would get whatever she wanted. Their princess deserved the best.
On the first day at the spa, all assembled in the main hall, to mingle and connect. In that ‘large’ crowd, Sundari spotted a frail man.
‘Very incongruous’ thought Sundari. After the perfunctory exchanges, lunch was declared. It was beyond frugal. As Sundari sat staring disbelievingly at her almost-empty lunch plate, she never noticed the frail man settling next to her.
“There there, Big girl! Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. You can share my lunch. I won’t be able to finish mine.” The frail man had a deep baritone.
“Don’t be presumptuous! Don’t You make fun of me! Big Girl Indeed!There is more to me than my bulk, you know! And that is my kickass brains! Am I just the sum total of my looks or my ample size?” snapped Sundari.
“I’m not! I never meant to say anything mean. Trust me! I’m Sha! Without the ‘H’ and so I’m not a Hulk” Sha declared, flexing his non-existent muscles.
Sundari laughed uproariously at this sight, patted his flat arms and almost immediately, felt ashamed. She had been a victim of body shaming all through her life and here she was, doing the same to a stranger.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude” Sundari pleaded.
“It’s OK. I’m used to this. We are quits then. You are?”
“I’m Sundari. Not really aptly named, am I? Why are you here? You are thin! You can have the world! You will make all of us feel ultra miserable!!”
“Really? How about you walk a mile in my shoes before you form an opinion? I have this grand name and this puny frame. So all I get, whenever I offer a serious opinion or even mundane help is, ‘be a man first’. ‘We don’t need children’! Not so funny, is it? I see my friends having wild parties, but my delicate system can’t take it. Often, I end up being alone. All the girls want puffed up men. They don’t want to be seen with a delicate darling. Enough of my story! What is your deal, Sundari? Also finish my lunch, before the staff notices!”
“My deal? I’m exhausted with the constant judging. One look at me, Baam! I will always be made to start on a back-foot, no matter how competent I am, thanks to my weight! I am never given a fair chance. I am always bending over backwards, to prove my worth. That judgmental mindset, I want to change!”
“Tell me about it! I so agree!” Sha exclaimed!
Sundari and Sha, then spent the entire afternoon, walking, chatting and sharing. It was a strange bond between the two aggrieved souls. Plus they had so many common interests and found it easy to open up – to their nascent dreams, passions or raw wounds!
A week zipped by in connecting, load shedding and bulking up.
Soon it was time to leave.
They promised to meet each other after a month, to see if this new relationship had any meat in it, or if they could still continue with their health regime. They wouldn’t talk to each other in the interim period nor try the social media, to keep track on each other.
It has been five years, so far.
Sundari often says dreamily, “You are the Sha of my dreams!”
And Sha lovingly replies, “You are the Sundari of my Sapnas!”
Sundari, having shed weight, after a herculean effort, continues to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sha is as bulky as he could be. He is now happy and contented with self.
The self-belief, they both have now, is immense.
Naren and Suma, run a fitness centre called ‘Weight and Watch’, cautioning the parents against overloaded love.