It was not obesity, but I was a little over weight; something my familial ties never let me forget
It all started with “erokom mota manush k k biye korbe? (Who will marry a fat woman like you?)”. I considered hitting the gym. My sister was an inch shorter than I was but in great shape. I had fat arms (according to my maasi), big bhuri (stomach) and shoulders like that of a man (My father’s side had broad shoulders which I inherited so how is that my fault?) Basically, I did not have an ideal body for a marriageable girl. I laughed at them because I had no intention of getting married until someone would drag me to the mandap holding me at gunpoint. And because giving the relatives’ lessons about body shaming would take up my weekend I politely pretended to laugh at my body.
Around my second year of college I was motivated to lose weight
The reason being two pronged: First, I suffered one fracture in the leg in my first year of college, tore the ligament of the same leg in the second and twisted my ankle twice in the same year. It is a known fact that once you hurt your leg, you tend to keep twisting your ankles or hurting the same leg because it goes a little weak. I was advised by the doctors to consider losing a little weight, not because I was fat or anything but because losing a few pounds would take the pressure off of my legs.
What began as a ‘Under doctor’s advice’ kind of a thing, soon turned into something I enjoyed doing. The first week and a half was a torture on the body but once I got into the flow of things, I developed a craving for it.
Gym became fun
Sweating and running in a temperature controlled room was fun. My body felt lighter and there was no guilt involved in hogging chocolates over the weekends. Not that I cared but the relatives started taking notice of it too. “Patla hoye gechish onek (you have grown so much thinner than before)” – was the recurrent saying. No one cared that I was fitter now, ate better and had better stamina.
After a few months of recurrent training, when the extra pounds had dropped visibly, I felt I should try something more flexible. Yoga? Pilates? Oh, Karate. Martial arts seemed like a good way to juice up on the defence system against potential threats. So, I hit the gym in the morning, yoga after college and had a Karate class near Ballygunj in the evening. Was I a bit obsessed with fitness and training? No, it was more like I needed intense exercise as it gave me a sense of purpose and empowerment.
On my first week there, when I had just learned the ropes of basic karate, I began realising this was not my regular running-on-the-treadmill kind of a thing. This needed major focus and patience. Training the mind as well the body was a major part. I was sloppy to say the least. I was not pleased. Which is why I quit that and stuck to gym and yoga.
Halfway through the quitting-karate stage, I used to sit there taking notes for a paper I was writing for the college journal while watching kids chop-chop their way away. Then I quit that completely and switched it with running in the evening.
One fine evening at the gym after my run, I see a familiar face looking up from his chin ups
I smiled. Maybe he is a regular. Maybe he is a creep. He was in a good shape though.
We exchanged glances over the course of the next week but for the love of God I could not remember where I had seen him. He answered my mental queries a week and a half later.
“You were in the same evening Karate class. Why did you quit?”
“Conflict of interest”, I lied.
“It was too focussed for you wasn’t it?”
I smiled. “Maybe”.
That was the extent of the conversation after which we both got back to our respective routines.
Turns out we took the same metro on the way back
And also, he was a super nice person. He even agreed to help me write my paper on fitness. Well, him and his brother, who was a trainer at a gym. Anwesh was a great guy – the whole package –nice, charming, helpful and ever ready to consume alcohol in a limited manner. In another timeline, he would have been a great man to date; if only he was straight.
Now, two years later, I have a decent story of fitness published in my college journal, a great friend I met at the gym and a trainer boyfriend.
Turns out Anwesh’s brother is straight and our chemistry was impalpable from the time we met to discuss my paper.
Gyms – bringing people closer since time immemorial!