Sweat dripping all over my face with my T-shirt plastered to my skin, hair flying in all directions and the oversized bindi on my forehead — definitely not fit for public consumption. The teenager behind me — a clone of Kareena Kapoor with her finely toned body and beguiling smile — is trying hard not to smirk even as she lifts weights.
When I get off the treadmill, my feet are dragged willy-nilly to the far corner where the weighing scale waits for me. It will be my defining moment for the week —depending on which way the needle points. After a pregnant pause, when I look down I’m hard pressed not to shout with glee. When the KK look-alike bounces out of the door with an insouciant wave of her hand and a spring in her step, I am too caught up in my own excitement to respond.
A month earlier, on a routine visit to my parents, my mom had given me a long look. “You seem to be expanding a bit at the waist” she added for good measure, in case I had missed her pointed looks. When my father chimed in with, “Something wrong with your eyes dear?” I realised my attempt at cold and haughty raising of my eyebrows hadn’t worked too well.
Little did I suspect, when I confided in my husband, that he would device a plan! I signed up for the plan without realising what I was getting into. Of course the move was hailed by the cheerleading squad at home. “Mom, you can do it!” my girls chorused the first day as they accompanied me to the gym. Only the drum roll was missing.
My 12 year old set the controls for me, explained an exercise routine, most of which was mambo-jumbo to me.“Mom, you need to keep an eye on the calorie counter...” she began but I brushed away her remarks. “Forget the calorie counter, keep the rosogullas out of my sight!” I retorted. I was raring to go and didn’t want any more technical support.
The plan included not merely exercise but a dreaded diet chart. The first time I looked at the chart, I nearly fainted. “This is a starvation plan, not a health plan!” I declared.
This led to a long winded monologue about carbs and unsaturated fats. When I tried to respond, my husband continued with a full discourse on cholesterol and heart disease. “Enough, I’ll just go with this!” When I began exercising at the gym, the girls had diligently double checked the bedroom drawers for any secret stash of chocolates, my one and only vice. “The plan is working” they whispered whenever I walked past the fried savories on the dining table, giving it the once over.
When the posters for the annual bash at our housing society were put up, I knew my day of reckoning had come. “Chaats, chole baturas, aloo tikkas..”screamed the menu. I stood there gazing at the menu making loud lip smacking noises much to my family’s dismay. “Mom, think of how hard you worked to burn those calories” my daughters reminded me. “Get a grip,” was my husband’s less than charitable response.
The exercise routine I had gotten down to a pat. It was the diet plan that was going haywire. I felt my control slipping as the day of the annual bash drew closer. My hormones went into overdrive. I could have sworn what I was going through were severe withdrawal symptoms. My husband could have cared less as he preened about the success of his plan — I was the perfect Miss Doolittle to his Higgins.
On the day of the bash, the house was in an uproar. My peacock-blue silk sari was lying on the bed, neatly ironed. The blouse looked simply divine. The designer being a good marketeer had added, “Only for you, madam!” before handing me the blouse. For the last few months I couldn’t fit into it even if I held my breath. When I put it on, the blouse blended onto me like second skin. Voila — a perfect fit! And suddenly the feeling was sweeter than anything I had ever tasted.