Naren was pacing up and down the maternity ward. After what seemed eons, the nurse walked out gingerly. “It is a girl.” She said softly. She must have been wondering whether she would get any Bakshish. To her utter surprise, Naren hugged her tight and beamed, “The goddess has come to our house in the navratras!”. He gave her some money and rushed in, to check on his newborn and his wife Suma. The nurse smiled. There were some men left in this world! She thought, as she walked back to check on other patients.
Naren called his precious, ‘Sundari’. Sundari was born in a family which 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 puppy fat which might get shed by teenage. As a teenager when Sundari became bulkier, they thought, by college time, she would become svelte by peer pressure. Nothing changed, only weight remained constant. Naren and Suma tried to enforce dieting, but Sundari’s pinched and hungry face would melt their hearts. Naren and Suma would put her in a gym or under a yoga instructor. Her aching body and her tired bleating, made them break into an unhappy sweat.
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 teacher’s pet and the confidant of girls and boys. Life was just great.But in the first year, at college, Sundari, was no longer in the protected environs of home. She often became the butt of cruel jokes. She shed many a silent tears. As soon she resolved to stick to a weight loss regime, it was exam time. Over hot samosas and cream rolls, Sundari was often seen holding court, clearing doubts of all and sundry, as she effortlessly cleared her exams with top grades. And the cruel jokes stopped, as she became the Gyan-Guru for all matters.
Soon, it was time to leave college, as most found jobs and their soul-mates. Sundari was again left high and dry, with no love interest in sight.
Vexed with her alone situation, Sundari decided to check into a Spa, before she joined work. Naren and Suma agreed and prayed, that she would get whatever she wanted.
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 at her lunch plate disbelievingly, she never noticed the frail man sitting next to her.
“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!” snapped Sundari.
“I’m not! I mean it. I’m Sha! Without the ‘H’ and so I’m not a Hulk” Sha declared, flexing his non-existent muscles.
Sundari laughed 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.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude” Sundari pleaded.
“It’s Ok. I’m used to this. 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 any 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!”
Sundari and Sha, then spent the entire afternoon, walking, chatting and sharing. It was a strange bond. Plus they had so many common interests.
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 their health regime. They wouldn’t talk to each other in the interim period nor try the social media, to keep track.
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.
Naren and Suma, run a fitness centre called ‘Weight and Watch’, cautioning the parents against overloaded love.