‘How I Count My Calories’ was a new column introduced by a local newspaper to ask their readers to share their own way of keeping fat away and inspire others. They also requested the reader to provide a photo – possibly to show that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I was definitely unqualified to contribute to such a column, so wrote a spoof on being ‘Calorie Conscious’ – it was accepted and appeared in the newspaper; under another column of course. And no, I did not send any photo along with the same.
“How do I count my calories?” Ah! That is my theme. I have a due right to write on this one, for if ever there was a calorie conscious person, it is I. When I say that I am calorie conscious, I mean that I am conscious of my calories – I know them well. And I don’t mind them. After all they are mine, aren’t they and if you expect anyone to be very possessive of one’s possessions, then I am. I wouldn’t part with a single calorie of mine. My track record proves it. Over these years, I have not lose any of my dear calories. In fact they are compounded regularly. The rate of return defies any Economic Theory.
And I tell you it is not fair but then all’s not fair in love, war and debunking fat people. Indeed I feel no embarrassment about being ‘well-built’ and that is putting it rather delicately.
When I was a small child, I was what they call ‘cute and cuddlesome’. My friends used to tease me about it and I used to chase them around. Not only was it extremely tiring but it was a futile effort as well. Today I know that I was being foolish, for nothing thrilled them more than my reaction. They sure enjoyed making me run. But the scientific mind smells a rot – surely then I must have lost weight in the process. Ah! We the fat and paunchy folks are made of the real stuff, and as I said before, we will not lose a calorie if we could help it. I incidentally did a 2 year course in ‘N.C.C.’ but again it didn’t do anything to dent my ‘roly-poly’ frame.
Gradually with age and experience I have learnt my lessons in coping with the situation. An attitude that I have cultivated using the wise approach promoted by Stephen Covey wherein he argues in favor of being ‘proactive’ rather than ‘reactive’. So you learn to be positive and ward off retorts, jibes and jokes made at one’s expense. It was a successful weapon for a while till one day I ruined it all.
One of my ‘Hi-and-Bye’ acquaintance messed up my philosophy with a seemingly innocuous compliment. ‘Fat people are really good-hearted and generous.’, he said. Blurry-eyed and choked with emotion, I wanted to hug him as we do yearn to be appreciated. It was then that he turned to the audience (all my friends) and fired the salvo with a wise-crack, ‘Because they really have no choice. Even if they are angry, they can’t run after people.’
He had touched a raw nerve in me. I just exploded. ‘Proactive, my foot. I will show this little runt.’ So saying I lunged for him but only to bite dust. For the sprightly kid had been cunning enough to provoke me and quickly to take to his heels. The hot pursuit was a futile chase at the end.
But the public spectacle meant that I needed to change my strategy. I required a new weapon to counter attack. And I found it in Gardiner’s thinking. In his essay, ‘On Being Idle’, he says, ‘I have long labored under a dark suspicion that I am an idle person. It is an entirely private suspicion. If I chance to mention it in a conversation, I do not expect it to be believed. I announce that I am idle in fact, to prevent the idea from spreading that I am idle. The art of defence if attack. I defend myself by attacking to claim a verdict of not being guilty, by the candor of my confession of guilt. I disarm you by laying down my arms.’
This is not, I imagine, an uncommon artifice. Most of us say things about ourselves that we would not like other people to say about us. We say them in order that they may not be believed.’
And so dear readers, drawing an analogy, I now proclaim being overweight. I laugh along when they make jokes at my expense. When they try to cartoon me I am the first one to provide ammunition for caricaturing me. I have thus conquered the most dreaded part of being overweight – being the object of people’s ridicule.
The article appeared under ‘Pot-Pourri’ column in the Leisure supplement of The Indian Express, a local English daily, on Feb 15, 1996 in Pune, India.