Fiction: Weight Loss What Price?

Glory Sasikala

- Glory Sasikala

Everything worked to an extent...gym, exercise, diets. Megha lost the first 3 kilograms pretty fast, and then, she was stuck. Not that the intention was not there, but the way your children look the same every day and yet they're growing all the time, similarly, if she lost weight, she could not see it, and that was very very discouraging. And it confirmed for her once more that God had a very bad sense of humour, because just as she was getting into the groove, someone was bound to remark, "You've put on weight, haven't you?" And that would set off the next bout of depression. And she stayed at the foot of the mountain, sure it was too hard for her to climb.

And then, she saw this tempting ad in the paper of one of those famous weight loss places, "50% off. Offer only for today." So gracious! 50% was a good off. She looked up the number and dialled. A kindly young voice spoke to her. She explained her problem. She was not losing weight. The young voice (for sure accompanied by a young body that gorged on hamburgers and what-nots and still managed to be hour-glass) was sympathetic. It gave her the address and promised to be there to assist her all the way.

Sure enough, the young voice took over when she could not place the address. It spoke to the driver and gave crisp instructions. Soon, she was being shown into a posh lobby, the effect slightly marred by the sudden appearance of a funky young man with gold-tinted hair and danglers in his ears. He seemed to be jeering at her, and she wondered what the joke was. Soon, the young voice personified into a pleasant young girl very much as she had imagined. "I'm Jessica," the girl, smiled. She rummaged in a drawer, and brought out a form. "Just fill in your name and address."

Jessica waited,while Megha filled the form. She sized up the lady meanwhile. Good looking, not very out of shape, not very particular about her looks…old. Everyone above 30 was “old” to Jessica. Her own salary was quite meager, and she sometimes wondered at the women who walked in, willing to pay a fortune to get in shape….why couldn’t they just walk in the park and eat carrots? Her mother carried water every day from the river and worked around the house. There was no question of her putting on any weight. Anyways, this woman here did not fit in the category of a spender. It wasn’t going to happen, she was wasting her time.

All these thoughts ran through her head, but Jessica was a kind girl. And she liked this woman with her simple and gentle ways. So she decided to run the gambit.

Once the form was filled, Jessica smiled at her and said, "Come with me." Megha was taken to another room. "This is our office room. That is the gym. The sauna is on the other side." It all looked very posh and hi-tech....and costly. "Please get on this machine." Megha placed her feet gingerly on the two sides and stood straight. A printer somewhere printed out her measurements.

"Come" said Jessica, and led the way back to the room they had left. She pulled out a chair for Megha and waited while she settled down. Then she sat down in front of her and spoke. "You're lucky to be here, Ma'am. Look at your weight. It's way off the chart. You need to lose at least 15 kilograms. For your height, this is the weight you should be."

She was shown a chart. "Oh! Okay..."

"Yes. And most of it is stubborn fat. That is the problem. And this is your BMI. Can you see? Most of the fat is deposited round your tummy."

"Yes."
"Well, we're a very old company. We've been in this field for so many years. We don't offer a possibility. We offer you a guarantee that you will lose weight. But we need co-operation from you."

“Yes, of course, I will co-operate.”

"You will need to change your lifestyle. You will need to climb stairs, park your car far away and walk. Along with our treatment, you must follow a diet, eat more vegetables and fruits and less carbohydrates. You must also walk for an hour."

"Wouldn't I be losing weight doing all that without your help?"

"No, it's not enough. Here, everything is passive. All you have to do is relax. We will burn the fat off you with machines."

"Oh! And how much will I lose."

"A kilogram in three days if you will also follow the diet we prescribe and change your lifestyle."

"Oh, ok."

"Yes. And we have massages to shape the body. See this is your body right now." Here, she drew a fat barrel. "It is pear-shaped." After three months, your body will be like this," She drew an hour-glass figure.

"How nice! Will I really look like that?"

"Yes, with machines, massage and sauna."

"Sauna?"

"Yes. Steaming."

"Oh, okay. It all sounds very nice. Tell me the cost. You have a 50% discount going."

"Yes. So let me calculate for a sitting. The machine use per sitting is 5000. We will offer it for 2500. The massage is 4000, we will change it to 2000, and the sauna is 4500, we will change it to 2500. That will be a total of 7000 only per sitting."

"And how many sittings will I need."

"Till you lose the required amount of weight."

"I can't afford this."

"Well, you can go in for just the machine and the massage. Or even just the machine."

"I'll think about it and let you know."

"But the offer ends today."

"All the same, I will think about it and let you know."

“Okay, Ma’am,” said the girl, resigned to the inevitable. She had tried her best. Her best hadn’t been good enough and this woman wasn’t a sucker. She didn’t know if she cared anyways; it was late, and she wanted to go home.

Megha came out of the building and looked around. A beggar came up to her, and she gave him a 50-rupee note. He looked at her incredulously. What was wrong with this woman? He then turned the note over and over to see if it was genuine generosity. She watched, amused. He then gave her a big salute and took off jauntily down the road. She felt satisfied that the money was well spent. If there was someone who could spend a fortune on getting slim, there was also someone who needed just a 50 rupee note to buy his next meal.

She looked at the group of people at the tea shop. Ten rupees per cup of delightful ginger tea. She looked up at the sky. The grandest show put up every night...completely free of cost. Free, cool night breeze blew and free golden moonlight shone.

The vegetable vendor was packing up his pushcart. He will go home to his wife's cooking. Some rice and dal maybe, a little place to sleep.

"Shall we go, Ma'am?" It was her driver.

She looked at him and smiled. "Yes..."

And she got into the car and settled down. She looked down at her body and smiled. For once in her life, she was really, really happy to be fat.

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