Every once in a while I think to myself, ”That is it. Starting tomorrow, I am going to eat healthily”. Everything starts off well; decent breakfast consisting of a healthy cereal and a leafy-salad sandwich for lunch. Then home time comes along and that means being trapped in a house with a breadbin full of goodies. Two hours later I am surrounded by empty biscuit packets and muffin wrappers telling myself, “I’ll start again tomorrow”. It never happens. Today, two things happened that made me think to write this article. The first was my desire to eat healthily for study leave. Eating a gazillion calories whilst sitting around all day desperately trying to revise pronouns was surely only going to end in a rotund Khadija. The second was the fact that in the space of two days, two people have posted about how being a size 8 does not mean you are too skinny, it depends entirely on your height and size. It got me thinking. What is the right the size? The curvaceous Marilyn Monroe Size 14 that everyone has recently been embracing as the ‘sexy’ size? Or is it the size 10 bikini-clad bodies that are on every single magazine spread, described as ‘hot’?
How about ‘there is no right size to be’. I ate muesli for breakfast – it tasted like cardboard – and a small chicken salad wrap at lunchtime. By five o clock this evening I was nearly chomping through my revision cards like there was no tomorrow. Mum came home and I was blessed with the option of having a takeaway. Takeaways are a rarity in our house so I jumped at the chance and my god were those noodles good. Today’s health regime went straight out of the window along with any hope of me passing my Philosophy exam tomorrow. Truth is, I could not care less. I would much rather eat a pleasant meal and not be hungry for a while than pick at some chewy beige stuff and be craving anything edible half an hour later. “Khadija, Khadija, you are just trying to make yourself feel better for your lack of willpower!” the good fairy screams in my head. I have never liked my good fairy, in fact I’m sure she’d be far more useful as a doormat. We shouldn’t have to constantly feel guilty for ‘eating that chocolate bar we really shouldn’t have’. But people also shouldn’t feel guilty for being naturally slim. I sometimes wonder whether we have gone so far the other way in saying that being a Marilyn size 14 is more sexy than being a size 8, that anyone who is a size 8 feels like they need to visit McDonalds regularly to keep up.
I’ve seen beautiful and sexy done in pretty much every size going. I’ve walked past girls of many different dress sizes and thought “I wish I had that figure”. So next time you walk past the pastry shop and be good, walk back again and pick out the fattest jam doughnut you can find. You are a person. You do not fit into a box ‘one-size-fits-all’. Leave that to the cats. Cats love to sit in boxes.
Peace out, Dija x
In the near distance, destruction still sounded. I couldn’t unravel my arms from around my knees, frozen by the horror of what I had just witnessed, so I stayed there crouched in an abandoned doorway. It all played over in my mind in jagged flashes with every crash from the neighbouring street. I had been outside the cafe that morning with some of the other boys from the town. We were kicking a football about despite Mr Raja coming outside several times waving a dish-cloth at us, telling us how our ‘loitering’ looked bad to his customers. I had just been about to complain about Paresh deliberately tripping me just as I was about to score a brilliant goal when suddenly, everyone seemed to have lost interest in the football game. All the boys were looking towards the road that led out of town where all the men went trading. Surely we hadn’t played so many games that they were back already? No. We never took notice of the working men coming back into town. Then I heard it. The commotion of screams and shouting, and something else that I couldn’t quite fathom. A sort of deep rumbling. People started emerging on the road out of town, arms flailing above them and their mouths wide open in ‘O’s. The non-working men had emerged from the cafe, staring in confusion. ‘What the bloody hell is going…ohmigod’ Mr Raja muttered, almost to himself. Because just as he had started to ask the question we had all been thinking, the source of the deep rumbling emerged behind the running men.
Towering at eleven-foot, the charging elephant made the men look like little toy soldiers, tiny and incredibly vulnerable. It also made them look terribly slow. Somebody grabbed my shoulder and told me to ‘stop gawping and run for dear life’. My feet automatically started to run away from the advancing bedlam as my mind still reeled over what was happening. I had no sense of direction, no clue how to save myself from the path of an enraged elephant. I had only ever seen images on the news of wild animals running riot in towns that had spilled onto wildlife habitats due to the bustling population. It never occured to me that living in one of the largest towns meant that we had been in this great danger. Daring to look behind me, my fears were confirmed as I watched people still running for their lives as they were taken underneath the elephant’s feet. I would never outrun it. Whipping my head in all directions, frantically looking for some place to hide away from the current path of destruction, I found an open door to a block of apartments.
Hurtling into the doorway, I crouched and clung to myself. The elephant had been running with such speed, I was surprised by how much time seemed to pass before it appeared. A figure appeared from the block of flats across the street. I recognised it as Abu Bakul, the body guard of one of the big hotels in the town centre. He seemed pretty calm for someone whose home was about to be bulldozed. It wasn’t until his eyes suddenly bulged and his jaw dropped that I realised this was the first he had heard of the elephant. Almost as soon as he had become paralysed with fear, he was thrust on the floor by a four and a half ton weight. I also became paralysed with fear as my mind refused to watch what was going on in the street outside, yet my head would not, could not turn. What must have been half a minute seemed to last for half an hour as I watched someone I used to walk past several nights a week be trampled to nothing. Each thud of a tree-trunk leg on the ground sounded in my ears like the blasts of war bombs. I feared our town would look like a war-zone after today.
Several minutes later, I was still here. Just waiting. Listening to my town being pounded by an animal of the wild, confused and angry at the humans that had driven it out of its home and forced it into a smaller space to make room for the growing population. Just like the elephant, today was a day that I, along with the rest of my town would never forget.