Would you ever give up ice cream in lieu of a few inches off your waist, wonders Minoo Shah
One fine day sunlight came streaming through the trees, birds chirped outside my window and squirrels scurried back and forth looking for acorns. About as poetic I can be today.
You ask what weighs so heavy on my head? No, not the election results, nor the world crisis and certainly not what Bollywood brat’s birthday it is! What is bringing turbulence in my life is that my neighbour continues to flaunt her sultry figure. I have gained 20 pounds during Covid (having not forsaken ice cream or anything as exhausting as exercise). I would be ok if her lifestyle was different than mine and I occasionally saw her sweating like a pig and starve herself with carrots for lunch and a yoghurt for dinner. But, no, she lives the same sedentary life as I and gorges on pav vadas, biryani and if you just saw how many fafdas and jalebis she can eat – you would open a junk food franchise.
The sleuth in me set out to investigate. I bribed her maid to keep me informed. Does she regurge after a meal? Does she go jogging in the middle of the night? Negative was the answer. Not satisfied, I bought myself state of the art binoculars and several times a day, I would hide behind palms and window treatments and watch her. Here are the results – She ate butter dipped parathas with a large glass of milk, a bowl of fruits and porridge for breakfast. Thereafter she lounged around in her pyjamas flipping through a cooking magazine. She summoned her cook at 10 am precisely and gave her the menu for the day -poha/ upma for the mid-morning snack, ‘Rotli, Daal, Bhaat, Shak with mishtan and farsan’ for lunch. For her afternoon snack she wanted to eat healthy, so she ate a giant bowl of sautéed sprouts garnished with bhujiya, a chai latte and a dark chocolate candy bar. Dinner was to be simple – maybe italian or Chinese because she would be going out for supper with her husband. Thereafter, I cried myself to sleep every night.
A few days later, the ‘I cannot be defeated’ part of me channeled the dark side. (Yes, we all have it). I would sit on my lounge chair outside and call out for her to join me. Then, I would glance at her and start to say something and then stop and look away. After a few such theatrics, she had no choice but to ask me ‘what was wrong?’. After much cajoling when she was about to give up, I (frantic to keep up the shenanigans) blurted out – ‘Behenji, looks like you have gained weight’. I got just the reaction, I wanted. She jumped out of her chair and screamed – ‘where’? Faking concern, I said ‘in your upper back’. (I am going to burn in hell, for that’s one spot no human can check for themselves). The next day she called me up smiling and said – you are so observant and thanks for letting me know – I gave away the shirt, it came with built in shoulder pads. Not to be bullied, I retorted – ‘I said your back.’ She looked back at me calmly and said ‘yeah, they were attached to my bra straps.’ Most people at this point would have given up, but not I! I smiled back at her and winking at her, patted her back and said, ‘there, there- it will be our little secret,’ and dashed for my door before she could shout her comeback.
These days, I am content knowing that she is not quite queening it, she still eats like a Bangladeshi expectant of a food drought, and I continue with my lackadaisical lifestyle. For, as a wise man (why can it never be a wise woman who spews wisdom?) once said, cherish winning your little battles, for face it – would you ever give up ice cream in lieu of a few inches off your waist?