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Black and White

About Pallavi Luthra

I am a marketing professional. Reading and writing are my greatest passions and I wish to express my thoughts and ideas through my stories to the readers on this portal. So happy reading to everyone!

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Prologue :

Kanchan was an average looking girl with a photogenic face. When I say, average and yet photogenic, it means she was intelligent in the way she took her selfies. But this perception was changed, when, I was skimming through her phone one day, there were pictures which were clicked by others and yet she looked photogenic. One of her cousin’s particularly always mentioned, “Kanchan di, Your photographs always turn out to be marvellous”. She had a double chin, high cheek bones which never showed due to the fat. She had dark circles under her eyes and good amount of facial hair which were now manageable because she had done a laser treatment. Therefore, at least the masculine beard and moustache had finally stopped bothering her as the hair growth had slowed down and the texture of the hard hair had softened.

Part 1

The laser gave a glow to her face, made her look fair. A picture taken under her face just till her neck made her look gorgeous in any picture. Even in a selfie! Smart phones these days any which ways did the trick. She was God gifted with the poky straight hair which was not so common among Indians. Having said she had a photogenic face, Kanchan weighed 110 kgs. An obese body that just killed the looks she had. She did not carry this weight all her life. She was a healthy girl throughout her life but not the ugly fat woman which she had now become. The weight started showing up after she got married. Well, of course every woman’s body undergoes some amount of change after marriage but this was a drastic one. The reasons she gave, the world thought they were excuses and she must ignore her new home’s environment.

Ignore? What she really should have ignored is the theory that her heart gave her while choosing her groom. She should have made her emotions take a back seat and should have been practical. While marriage is a gamble but love… love is last move that will make or break your decision of marriage. Coming from a middle class family set in the suburbs of Mumbai city, Kanchan had middle class moderate values but very strong ones though. She was taught to respect human beings over money, think about others over being selfish, be disciplined and never let go of her principles, fight for right over wrong. When you look for a partner, don’t see his bank balance and looks; see his character, his heart, his approach towards life. How much he loves you and blah, blah, blah…

But when she got married, in the first week, she realised all these teachings were a fairy tale set up which in reality did not work.

Her marriage was always in the doldrums. One day passed peacefully, was a silent prayer made to God. Kanchan would say, “Thank God, today I did not hear any taunts from my in-laws. Today I got less or not angry at all. Why can’t all days be like this one, dear God? I hope you hear me loud and clear”. But the next day, she was thinking of a divorce. For the first six months, she used to cry daily, in the bathroom; sitting in her room just reflecting that how could someone be so mean, selfish, rude and ruthless? She had never met such people in her life. Back home, differences were there between her and her sister-in-laws, but they never became so grave. Plus, there was respect for elder and young ones alike. After a point, the elders or the young ones, left the battle and knew their limit of back answering or bickering.

Part 2

There it was a different battle she had been sent to without any weapons. She was so vulnerable and naïve; she was clueless how was she going to fight it out. Interesting part of it all was, her husband was not an issue. Of course, he was because he did not protest against the people and relatives for all the insult they put her through. But it was her in-laws who were the major prick of her life. The result was, she became temperamental, always angry and above all, obese. ‘Stress’, the modern cancer had overpowered her. In the initial months of her marriage, the changed lifestyle of consuming heavy food items, odd eating hours, etc. made her put on weight. Later, the stress, the constant picking on her in whatever she said, did or wear, made her life a complete turmoil. Every day, she would get up in the morning and promise herself, “Today I will ignore it. Today I shall foresee all the nonsense around me and be a positive person”. However, by the end of the day, she lost the battle.

We all have our superstitions. Don’t we? So did Kanchan. It was her belief, whenever she chopped her hair, she got a better job. LOL, this is exactly what the reader must be feeling. But I am sure you can relate to it. If I wear this shirt for an exam or interview, I will clear it in flying colours. This is my lucky shirt. If I carry this bag to a card party, I always win and double the money. Weird as it may sound, but it is the truth of us – the human beings. One day, Kanchan went for a haircut. When she returned, all excited to show her haircut to her husband, all she heard was, “Good that you just chopped your hair and not your limbs.” A lashing tongue is worse than a punch in the eye. The blue eye gets back to the skin colour in a few days, but the scar in one’s heart stays a lifetime.

A lifetime it was going to take for her to forget the scars on her heart. People may come and go but the scars they leave remain till eternity. They prick you each time you face a similar situation. After several years of marriage, Kanchan was not the Kanchan she was before. Bold, bindass, futuristic and determined. Her determination had failed her everywhere. To begin with, weight loss. A constant battle she lost umpteen times whenever she tried. The major reason was whenever she took a step in that direction, within 2-3 days or max a week, her weight loss programme was discussed so much by her in-laws that she would be irritated to the peak. Soon, she would give up in a day or two; else each meal would become a painstaking ordeal for her with the constant comments. Comments which were considered, “Oh we are having fun, you are family”. Family, my foot! Family should be treated as family and there is no fun derived at the cost of hurting a family member ever. It is only sadistic pleasure.

Minding their own business was just not what her in-laws knew or wanted to do. If not that, at least they could have encouraged Kanchan to lose weight. Nope, not even that. Why would they? She was the daughter-in-law, a toy for their entertainment. However, when their daughter went on a weight loss plan, they were all supportive.

Weight loss for daughter is viable but not for daughter-in-law? This is self-explanatory. Why then an expectation of a grandchild from her? Shouldn’t she be fit to give you a grandchild? With so much constant stress, Kanchan had become a person of low self-confidence and tolerance. I would like to stop the readers here for a minute and reflect on Kanchan’s situation. The boundaries she lived in. In-laws who monitored everything she did, from going down to buy a medicine to a dinner, from what she wore to what she should not, her style of speaking, her eating habits, etc. Kanchan used to wonder that one day even her number of breaths would be monitored.

Part 3

A free soul all her life, Kanchan never stopped for anything at her mother’s house. Though she did everything well within the boundaries, things was policed here at her in-laws house despite her not breaking the rules. So what was Kanchan to do? She kept going on with the struggle, the life she had been offered. Did she have a choice? Yes, she had but that was an easy resolve. Get a divorce. What was difficult was to stay in that marriage and pass through it. After the long struggle, Kanchan was much calmer now. Her in-laws and she had part ways and Kanchan only wished for the wellbeing of her father-in-law in his next life.

Few months had passed and January was around the corner. All one heard around this time of the year was New Year’s party plans and New Year’s resolutions! Weight loss, was an age old resolution not just for Kanchan but for the world. As if it’s a universal New Year’s resolution. Given the situation now, could she go back to her weight loss regime as no further interference in her plans? Now could she get back to herself? But was she even trying or thinking in that direction? No! Why?

The motivation to do anything was dead in her. She was now accustomed to the philosophy of ‘let it go’. But could she let go her weight? A weight that rendered her motherless, unhealthy inviting health issues and most importantly questionable eyes of her relatives, colleagues, friends and the gossip they did behind her back discussing her weight. Did anyone actually sat her down and heard her heart out? No, no one. So much so, Kanchan ignored going to family trips especially if they involved a climb to a pilgrimage spot. She wanted to avoid their comments. If her in-laws were the reason for her weight gain, her own family and relatives only added to her guilt of being overweight. This Kanchan, who never ignored or ran away from situations, was now doing it. She was now letting it go. Ignore the situation and you don’t have to answer anyone.

It was a testing time for her when no motivational suggestions from friends and family made a difference. It fell on deaf ears. Something inside her was numb and all the gyaan she heard was only touching her superficially. None reached her soul because it’s the soul that lives and feels. No one really wore her shoes to feel how heavy they were, that even taking a single step too was a mammoth of a task. Then what would Kanchan do? What would happen to her future?

 

It was that time of the year, when everyone fooled themselves with the universal New Year’s resolution, ‘Weight Loss’. Kanchan was also fooling around with that thought with just a few days to go. The fool’s game countdown had begun. Who is going to be the fool this time? Kanchan or Weight Loss? Everything inside her said, “Kanchan”. Here I would ask you to take a halt and reflect. Reflect, as there is a Kanchan sitting inside each one of us with a life we cannot do much about, situations that we cannot change. So should we go gungo about ‘change is the only constant. One can bring a change if one changes oneself. No one is going to change around you’. Enough of sucking on this lame, motivational melodrama, isn’t it? So what next, the Kanchan in me asked?

In my confused state of mind which I always used to be usually, a thought passed. Life may be grey, but ironically it works on the idea of black or white. “Kanchan or Weight Loss”, I say to myself, as I lay back in my chair looking at my own weight and hum the Michael Jackson song, black or white, adding my own lyrics to it with no rhythm…black or white, January is close by…

Kanchan was an average looking girl with a photogenic face. When I say, average and yet photogenic, it means she was intelligent in the way she took her selfies. But this perception was changed, when, I was skimming through her phone one day, there were pictures which were clicked by others and yet she looked photogenic. One of her cousin’s particularly always mentioned, “Kanchan di, Your photographs always turn out to be marvellous”. She had a double chin, high cheek bones which never showed due to the fat. She had dark circles under her eyes and good amount of facial hair which were now manageable because she had done a laser treatment. Therefore, at least the masculine beard and moustache had finally stopped bothering her as the hair growth had slowed down and the texture of the hard hair had softened.

The laser gave a glow to her face, made her look fair. A picture taken under her face just till her neck made her look gorgeous in any picture. Even in a selfie! Smart phones these days any which ways did the trick. She was God gifted with the poky straight hair which was not so common among Indians. Having said she had a photogenic face, Kanchan weighed 110 kgs. An obese body that just killed the looks she had. She did not carry this weight all her life. She was a healthy girl throughout her life but not the ugly fat woman which she had now become. The weight started showing up after she got married. Well, of course every woman’s body undergoes some amount of change after marriage but this was a drastic one. The reasons she gave, the world thought they were excuses and she must ignore her new home’s environment.

Ignore? What she really should have ignored is the theory that her heart gave her while choosing her groom. She should have made her emotions take a back seat and should have been practical. While marriage is a gamble but love… love is last move that will make or break your decision of marriage. Coming from a middle class family set in the suburbs of Mumbai city, Kanchan had middle class moderate values but very strong ones though. She was taught to respect human beings over money, think about others over being selfish, be disciplined and never let go of her principles, fight for right over wrong. When you look for a partner, don’t see his bank balance and looks; see his character, his heart, his approach towards life. How much he loves you and blah, blah, blah…

But when she got married, in the first week, she realised all these teachings were a fairy tale set up which in reality did not work.

Her marriage was always in the doldrums. One day passed peacefully, was a silent prayer made to God. Kanchan would say, “Thank God, today I did not hear any taunts from my in-laws. Today I got less or not angry at all. Why can’t all days be like this one, dear God? I hope you hear me loud and clear”. But the next day, she was thinking of a divorce. For the first six months, she used to cry daily, in the bathroom; sitting in her room just reflecting that how could someone be so mean, selfish, rude and ruthless? She had never met such people in her life. Back home, differences were there between her and her sister-in-laws, but they never became so grave. Plus, there was respect for elder and young ones alike. After a point, the elders or the young ones, left the battle and knew their limit of back answering or bickering.

To Be Continued in Part 2…

There it was a different battle she had been sent to without any weapons. She was so vulnerable and naïve; she was clueless how was she going to fight it out. Interesting part of it all was, her husband was not an issue. Of course, he was because he did not protest against the people and relatives for all the insult they put her through. But it was her in-laws who were the major prick of her life. The result was, she became temperamental, always angry and above all, obese. ‘Stress’, the modern cancer had overpowered her. In the initial months of her marriage, the changed lifestyle of consuming heavy food items, odd eating hours, etc. made her put on weight. Later, the stress, the constant picking on her in whatever she said, did or wear, made her life a complete turmoil. Every day, she would get up in the morning and promise herself, “Today I will ignore it. Today I shall foresee all the nonsense around me and be a positive person”. However, by the end of the day, she lost the battle.

We all have our superstitions. Don’t we? So did Kanchan. It was her belief, whenever she chopped her hair, she got a better job. LOL, this is exactly what the reader must be feeling. But I am sure you can relate to it. If I wear this shirt for an exam or interview, I will clear it in flying colours. This is my lucky shirt. If I carry this bag to a card party, I always win and double the money. Weird as it may sound, but it is the truth of us – the human beings. One day, Kanchan went for a haircut. When she returned, all excited to show her haircut to her husband, all she heard was, “Good that you just chopped your hair and not your limbs.” A lashing tongue is worse than a punch in the eye. The blue eye gets back to the skin colour in a few days, but the scar in one’s heart stays a lifetime.

A lifetime it was going to take for her to forget the scars on her heart. People may come and go but the scars they leave remain till eternity. They prick you each time you face a similar situation. After several years of marriage, Kanchan was not the Kanchan she was before. Bold, bindass, futuristic and determined. Her determination had failed her everywhere. To begin with, weight loss. A constant battle she lost umpteen times whenever she tried. The major reason was whenever she took a step in that direction, within 2-3 days or max a week, her weight loss programme was discussed so much by her in-laws that she would be irritated to the peak. Soon, she would give up in a day or two; else each meal would become a painstaking ordeal for her with the constant comments. Comments which were considered, “Oh we are having fun, you are family”. Family, my foot! Family should be treated as family and there is no fun derived at the cost of hurting a family member ever. It is only sadistic pleasure.

Minding their own business was just not what her in-laws knew or wanted to do. If not that, at least they could have encouraged Kanchan to lose weight. Nope, not even that. Why would they? She was the daughter-in-law, a toy for their entertainment. However, when their daughter went on a weight loss plan, they were all supportive.

Weight loss for daughter is viable but not for daughter-in-law? This is self-explanatory. Why then an expectation of a grandchild from her? Shouldn’t she be fit to give you a grandchild? With so much constant stress, Kanchan had become a person of low self-confidence and tolerance. I would like to stop the readers here for a minute and reflect on Kanchan’s situation. The boundaries she lived in. In-laws who monitored everything she did, from going down to buy a medicine to a dinner, from what she wore to what she should not, her style of speaking, her eating habits, etc. Kanchan used to wonder that one day even her number of breaths would be monitored.

To Be Continued in Part 3…

A free soul all her life, Kanchan never stopped for anything at her mother’s house. Though she did everything well within the boundaries, things was policed here at her in-laws house despite her not breaking the rules. So what was Kanchan to do? She kept going on with the struggle, the life she had been offered. Did she have a choice? Yes, she had but that was an easy resolve. Get a divorce. What was difficult was to stay in that marriage and pass through it. After the long struggle, Kanchan was much calmer now. Her in-laws and she had part ways and Kanchan only wished for the wellbeing of her father-in-law in his next life.

Few months had passed and January was around the corner. All one heard around this time of the year was New Year’s party plans and New Year’s resolutions! Weight loss, was an age old resolution not just for Kanchan but for the world. As if it’s a universal New Year’s resolution. Given the situation now, could she go back to her weight loss regime as no further interference in her plans? Now could she get back to herself? But was she even trying or thinking in that direction? No! Why?

The motivation to do anything was dead in her. She was now accustomed to the philosophy of ‘let it go’. But could she let go her weight? A weight that rendered her motherless, unhealthy inviting health issues and most importantly questionable eyes of her relatives, colleagues, friends and the gossip they did behind her back discussing her weight. Did anyone actually sat her down and heard her heart out? No, no one. So much so, Kanchan ignored going to family trips especially if they involved a climb to a pilgrimage spot. She wanted to avoid their comments. If her in-laws were the reason for her weight gain, her own family and relatives only added to her guilt of being overweight. This Kanchan, who never ignored or ran away from situations, was now doing it. She was now letting it go. Ignore the situation and you don’t have to answer anyone.

It was a testing time for her when no motivational suggestions from friends and family made a difference. It fell on deaf ears. Something inside her was numb and all the gyaan she heard was only touching her superficially. None reached her soul because it’s the soul that lives and feels. No one really wore her shoes to feel how heavy they were, that even taking a single step too was a mammoth of a task. Then what would Kanchan do? What would happen to her future?

It was that time of the year, when everyone fooled themselves with the universal New Year’s resolution, ‘Weight Loss’. Kanchan was also fooling around with that thought with just a few days to go. The fool’s game countdown had begun. Who is going to be the fool this time? Kanchan or Weight Loss? Everything inside her said, “Kanchan”. Here I would ask you to take a halt and reflect. Reflect, as there is a Kanchan sitting inside each one of us with a life we cannot do much about, situations that we cannot change. So should we go gungo about ‘change is the only constant. One can bring a change if one changes oneself. No one is going to change around you’. Enough of sucking on this lame, motivational melodrama, isn’t it? So what next, the Kanchan in me asked?

In my confused state of mind which I always used to be usually, a thought passed. Life may be grey, but ironically it works on the idea of black or white. “Kanchan or Weight Loss”, I say to myself, as I lay back in my chair looking at my own weight and hum the Michael Jackson song, black or white, adding my own lyrics to it with no rhythm…black or white, January is close by…

The End

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2 Response Comments

  • Aparna Mondal17/01/2019 at 9:13 AM

    Lovely story . The conflict , the ordeal of a disturbed , tormented mind is so nicely portrayed that everyone will get touched . Just hope the tormentors read this story and just for once try to get into the shoes of these poor ladies and feel the excruciating pain they go through .

  • Shyna19/01/2019 at 11:24 PM

    This story was a complicated read for me. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the narrator but I had a hard time in doing so. For me being a healthy woman is all about how you treat your body and how to be stronger than the influences from the outside. I also live in a joint family and I found it disturbing to blame ones internal health and weight struggles on external influences. I also felt like blaming everyone else is an easier and a weaker way to deal with the bigger issue which is how to be a healthy woman. If everyone that had to live with their in laws thought this way, then there would a health epidemic in the world.

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