For a brief while last year I could no longer see my feet because my belly was in the way, and since my blood circulation had also more or less stopped, I couldn’t feel them either. It takes courage to stand up when you aren’t sure if you have feet. This state of affairs was untenable. I bent my head, which was the only bit of me that could do any bending anymore, towards finding an answer.
I watched television, ate brownies, and scoured the land trying to find someone who would tell me that there was something I could do other than exercise. Those people must all have perished of obesity-related complications, because those who are left insist that there is no other way.
A friend gave me the number of a person called Ganesh (not his real name; using his real name makes me gibber with fear). “He’s my personal trainer,” she said. “He’s good. He told me he’d make a beach babe out of me in three months.” She was in fact looking quite svelte, though that might also have been because she’s 25 years old and has the metabolic rate of a hummingbird.
Ganesh turned out to be a sculpted young Adonis who took the healing properties of early morning sunlight very seriously, and conducted a passionate love affair with himself in all remotely reflective surfaces. During our introductory getting-to-know-you chat he told me his price, which was marginally more than my monthly income. I laughed hollowly and made a counter offer which caused his eyebrows to shoot disbelievingly up into his gelled hairline.
“Never mind the money, ma’am,” he said eventually. “It’s more important to get you into shape.” I thought him quite noble until he said that my thighs were all right, but, and diplomatically left it at that. Then he laid down the law: thou shalt not make excuses to skip sessions. Thus taking me on as a personal challenge, he departed, shooting a quick admiring glance at himself in the paint on the front door.
Mornings with Ganesh took on the dull hopelessness of a life sentence with hard labour. He showed great ingenuity making weights out of books and benches out of beds, and absolute ruthlessness in all matters fatty. “C’mon ma’am, cmoncmoncmon!” he would scream at my sweating bulk as I rolled about like a capsized turtle, trying to execute crunches and situps. “CmoncmoncmonCMON!” he bellowed at my labouring back as I did pushups. He almost drowned out my sobs.
After six or seven weeks of unremitting pain, I looked down and found I could see my toes again, though not in full. Then Ganesh took our relationship to the next level. “Ma’am,” he began, “I want to tell you two things. You must dye your hair, and you must take care of your feet. Then you will be very gorgeous.” I told him I would never dye my hair. “I’m telling you,” he said. “Sir will like it.”
If I stopped hanging out with Ganesh it wasn’t because of this statement, though I was properly indignant; it was because he got bored with fighting with my flab for next to no pay, and who could blame him? One day he just never showed up, though he called me to explain that he was getting tired of going from client to client, and really just wanted to emigrate to France where his friend was making barrels of cash.
I’m not sure what Ganesh ended up doing, though I wish him all the best. I’ve been thinking about him this week, since I looked down and suddenly found, again, that I couldn’t see my feet.