“What is that noise?” asked Rahul.
Surbhi clutched her stomach guiltily. ‘Was her stomach rumbling so loudly?’ She quickly downed some water and tried to school her face into an indifferent expression.
“There is some problem with the AC” answered Ruchi who had been investigating. “Why does the cooling in our department always suck?” she grumbled.
Surbhi let out her breath in a whoosh, idly glancing at the time. It was just past one. ‘Was it just half an hour since she had had lunch? If you could call one malnourished idli and one runny bowl of spinach soup, lunch.’ She sighed and determinedly turned back to her work.
She had just got into her rhythm when she saw the office boy in her peripheral vision. She glanced up to see him holding a box of pedas, the ones with the individual wrappers, the ones topped with pistachios, the ones she did not like one bit! She smiled in relief and graciously refused the pedas. Three more weeks of dieting and she would hopefully (please dear God!) be ready to get into the dress which she had foolishly bought for her cousin sister’s grand wedding. She had deliberately bought it two sizes smaller than what she usually bought. The amount of money she had shelled for the dress was her biggest motivation to lose weight. Surbhi was something of a miser where money was considered. And now she was being miserly about food!
Surreptitiously she glanced at Rahul’s thin arms. ‘Why did so many men have thin, spindly arms which they certainly didn’t like and countless girls had potato-shaped hands?’ she wondered vengefully. Her own arms looked just the same as always, no thinner in any way. She pulled her chair a little further towards her desk, screening her body and quickly did some stomach exercises.
“What is the matter, Surbhi?” Ruchi asked curiously. “Why are you breathing so heavily?”
“Nothing” Surbhi replied in a nasally voice. “I have got a bit of a cold”.
“Have some hot chocolate” Rahul put in cheerfully. “Best remedy for the snivels”.
‘Really’ Surbhi thought in exasperation. ‘Do this people have nothing to do except for spying on me?’ Aloud she said, “Really, I am fine.”
“Why are you eating cow dung?” Ankur the office wit asked her during teatime. His friends laughed obligingly exactly like the canned laughter in a comic show.
“Don’t bother Surbhi, guys” Tania, the office hottie, unexpectedly came to her defence. With a wink and a lewd smile for Tania, Ankur and his cronies left Surbhi in peace. Tania came and sat beside her bringing with her a strong scent of perfume. Surbhi shuddered involuntarily. Strong fragrances always gave her a headache. Tania sipped her green tea and smiled up at her charmingly. “Which diet are you following, dear?”
“Er…the normal” replied the nonplussed Surbhi.
“And what do you mean by normal?” shot back Tania.
“You know, eating healthy, eating less than normal and exercising” she replied self-consciously tugging her top straight.
“My dear, you won’t lose weight that way” declared Tania. “There is a science to losing weight. First you have to decide which diet you have to follow. Then you will have to tweak it to suit your Indian preferences. You will need one dedicated resource whose job will be only to prepare and present everything that is required by your diet at the proper time.” She paused and unwrapped a block of cheese. Surbhi’s eyes widened seeing the cheese. Tania noticed her and said importantly, “Yes, I am having cheese on my diet. Because I am following the keto diet. High fat, low carb, you know. If you want, I can make a weekly diet plan for you.”
“Thanks Tania” replied Surbhi, uncertain where this was going. “But I don’t want to trouble you.”
“It’s no trouble” Tania waved her off. “I enjoy turning fat caterpillars into dainty butterflies.”
Surbhi looked at her suspiciously wondering if she was being nasty. But Tania was not like that. Sudden tears pooled in her eyes. ‘Was that how she looked to strangers?’ She wordlessly took the sheet of paper with her ‘diet plan’ from Tania, thanked her and put her mess of oatmeal into the garbage bin.
Once home, she weighed herself. She had lost 2 kgs! 2 whole kgs in 1 week! At this rate, she would just about make it into her dress. She sighed happily and nodded her head as if arriving at a decision.
“Maa” she called out to her mother. “I am going out. I won’t be having any dinner.”
Ten minutes later, she handed over her gorgeous, impossible dress back to the shop attendant.
“I have changed my mind” she said. “I would like the same dress in my usual size please.”
Without batting an eye, the attendant took her measurements. “Madam, your usual size will be a little loose on you.”
“I know” she beamed at the baffled attendant, unwrapping a bar of chocolate. “I want it altered to fit the thinner me.”