The first time that I laid my eyes on you, my heart nearly skipped a beat. It was love at first sight and I was sure that we were meant to be together. The year was 2002 and I had moved to Delhi for my first post-graduation. Amidst adjusting to a new phase of life and struggling with emotional turbulence, you were the reason I stayed connected and never felt lonely. You were privy to the most private conversations yet I felt comfortable in your presence. The fact that you came into my life with my parents’ approval made it easy for me to take care of our joint finances.
Two years later, I moved to Bangalore and you chose to come along. Initially, you had little reception issues but you coped up quickly. As I joined the corporate world, you became my go-to medium to stay connected with the world. I accept that I had random thoughts about approaching some better prospects as my affordability increased but eventually I shunned them away. I could never think of replacing you.
I tried various options to keep you updated with the latest trends in fashion and technology but you were simply not interested. Many a time, I bore the brunt of sarcastic jibes because of my attachment to you. Then suddenly you started showing signs of mood swings by intermittently blocking all modes of communication. I grew exasperated.
We were both trying to decode each other and the future of this relationship as I started a new journey as a B-school student. You completely refused to co-operate then and I had no option but to seek a new relationship with a good-looking, sophisticated and updated support system.
Mihika was irked to see the dreaded mail in her inbox. This was the third assignment and her boss, the Regional manager Arya Chawla had yet again sent it on a Friday evening with forty-eight hours deadline. This meant a working weekend once again. Arya would chill out with his friends while she had to prepare the quarterly review slides and projections. She had been considering finding a new job but didn’t want to leave this organization without teaching this manipulative man a lesson.
As she started collating the figures, she assessed the way her corporate dreams had taken a beating. She had been one of the brightest students in her management college. Thus it wasn’t a surprise when FinGo, a leading Financial advisory firm in Bangalore recruited her from the campus. Her aspirations of becoming a top Financial advisor had been eventually crushed under Arya’s ambitions. He rarely gave Mihika her due credit for the research, analysis and presentations.
As she rushed back home after mailing the final version of the power-point presentation to Arya, she received a call from her younger brother Manav, a second-year M.B.B.S. student in Mumbai. Despite the four-year age gap between them, the siblings had always been best friends.
“Did I disturb you amidst a crazy Sunday night party?” Manav asked cheerfully.
Trilok rantowards the assembly hall at the sound of the school bell. He had been playing football and barely noticed the playground becoming vacant. The class monitor was sure to reprimand him for coming late again. He could never convince anyone that his motivation for the school came from its playground.
After reaching his class, he was surprised to see a new girl sitting on the same bench that was designated for him and his friend Tushar. Tushar had moved to the bench in the next row. Their class teacher Nalini announced, “Class 7B, this is Trisha Sen. Her father has recently been transferred here from Delhi. Please extend your co-operation in helping her settle down.”
Trilok gave her an annoyed look. Their school had seating arrangements according to their names in the alphabetical order. That’s how Trisha had replaced Tushar. He decided to ignore her.
For Trisha, this was the fourth city and third school change. She was tired of adjusting to a new environment every few years. She was an outstanding student and very soon became a favorite with the teachers. However, that became a deterrent to fostering new friendships. Her bench mate Trilok had become quite vocal about his dislike for her. For the past one month, the jovial and friendly Trisha had started withdrawing into a shell.
Disha was packing the lunch box as her father Aravind Rao rushed inside the kitchen. She knew her father was a stickler for punctuality, “Appa, I’ve made puliograhe (tamarind rice) for lunch today.” Aravind smiled, “So I get to eat my favorite food on my last working day.”
Fifty-five-year-old Aravind worked as a postmaster in the only post office in his town. Disha had always been her father’s pet but it was the pain and grief of losing her mother that had strengthened their bond. Disha had just turned fourteen a month before her mother passed away due to cardiac arrest.
Despite not so favorable circumstances, Disha had been a meritorious student. Aravind had always been supportive of Disha pursuing a career although his friends and relatives had pestered him to get her married after she turned eighteen. Disha not secured admission in the only Engineering college in town but was also chosen for the scholarship.
In her final year, Disha was the first student to be recruited from the campus by India’s top IT company. Her job location demanded a daily commute of two hours from her native as she was unwilling to move away from her father. Once Disha settled down in her profile, she started convincing Aravind for voluntary retirement. Her father had struggled the whole life for her betterment. Now she wanted to let him relax.
Jane opened the door with her key. As she walked towards the sitting room, she heard sounds from John’s room. That idiot had again brought a girl home. Jane turned on the television to the maximum volume. Soon John came out of the room in a disheveled state with the fair and a voluptuous lass trailing behind him.
“Hey, didn’t hear you open the door. Meet my girlfriend Sandra. She is my colleague at the departmental store. Sandra, that’s my twin sister Jane.” Sandra gave a warm smile. Jane nodded curtly.
After John bade goodbye to Sandra, Jane asked, “It’s not even two months that we have moved here and you are already back to your philandering ways. I am really tired of this whole mess.”
“I like Sandra. I am hoping to make this work.” John assured Jane.
“I’ve heard this before. We have managed to escape twice but we might not be lucky the third time. Stop getting emotionally involved in relationships.” Jane was fuming. John shuddered at the recollection of the past incidents but he knew his heart was sold out to Sandra.
At the sound of a ringing doorbell, Tia looked at her wristwatch and cursed, “Which idiot wakes up at 11 am on a weekend?” Reluctantly, she got out of the bed, only to find her girlathon buddies outside. The group of nine women belonging to various age groups looked appalled. “Were you sleeping while we were completing our rounds for the day?” Tia helplessly looked at the enthusiastic bunch of women.
That night when her doctor boyfriend Sameer broke up for the third time in a row over her ridiculously lazy nature, Tia had returned to her apartment dead drunk. She stood in front of the mirror and looked at the tires of fat bursting out of her L-sized dress. In a fit of rage, she had vowed to get that revenge body like Katrina Kaif and make Sameer fall on his knees, begging her to come back.
In all her previous attempts related to fitness, she had never stuck to the regime beyond seven days. Her increasing cholesterol level had put Sameer on an alert making him personally handle her diet chart and fitness schedule. When Tia failed to stick to the instructions, all hell broke loose. But this time she was confident of her move. Her society had a fitness club and she had signed up for the upcoming girlathon-1k run which was basically marathon for amateur runners in the society.
Myra woke up to the sound of the alarm. The outside world was submerged in darkness but she had a mission to achieve. Changing into a t-shirt and track pants, she took out the newly purchased running shoes. As she left, her father smiled at her mother “Hadn’t I told you that the day Myra gets the right motivation, nothing can stop her?.”
Myra started her warm-up exercises in the society gym. At 5ft 3inches, her 85 kg frame had always invoked ridicule and laughter. It had started as a toddler when any random person would seek an opportunity to pull her chubby cheeks. As she grew up, the remarks changed to fat and ugly with people asking her to lose weight. Sarcastic statements and rude remarks related to her body had become a way of life. Despite an academic record that could put her peers to shame, she lost out on opportunities because of people’s mindset related to her overweight frame.
The cruelty and harshness of the world bothered her initially. Except for her parents, no one really understood how much it affected her. As Myra grew up, she was tired of one too many instances of body shaming. Using the veil of dry humor, she started retorting to those caustic remarks. A high-profile and well-paid job kept her busy. She had a couple of affairs in the past which mostly ended because of her weight. Her mother had tried various routes of an alliance but in vain.