The fitness dream.
I had become unfit – horribly so. Especially post Covid. My strength was sapped, neither motivation nor desire to do much. I lazed in bed all day watching weird web series & eating. A lot of eating. Junk, fast food, sweets even ice-creams (a complete no-no for covid). Now, having broken my new year resolution in record time, i was stuck. My fitness dream was fast becoming just that. A dream.
Now the weight showed, I felt bloated & unhealthy. But that didn’t stop me. Till i realised something else.
I had stopped writing.
I need to do something man, i told H over the phone.
Dai! H admonished me. I heard him, made the right noises before i hung up. I closed my eyes. What H said made sense. I needed to do something – but how? The watch-eat-sleep-repeat vortex had consumed me.
My eyes shut; i imagined an eagle circling the skies. It soared around refusing to land. Scared that once it sits, it may not fly again. I had to make a move.
Should get new clothes–, H heard me out as i reached out to him again, –that will break the jinx, i said barely convinced myself.
Without judging me, H told me where to get them from. F street – despite the pandemic, it was open. Old city, old school, narrow by lanes – in that it was another narrow lane – very risqué, dangerous. Hence, very alive. Just what i needed.
I didn’t waste time, got into a train. I continued talking to H, he had given me directions. Soon i found myself in the narrow lane. There i found this clothes cart. Something H has spoken about. Or maybe not. Who cares? Here i was, in this narrow lane, at the cart with clothes.
A young man stood there – side parting hair, t-shirt, gold chain, brown skin. Bling, glib, smooth talking. Mr Snake-oil. 25 years ago, I knew someone else exactly like him. Me.
I smiled at him. He nodded, asked me what i wanted. I eyed the goods – white shirts & denim jeans. Not exactly fitness clothes. Still, i didn’t want to argue. Not now, not with him or H.
Confession – there was another reason i didn’t move away. In a day was M’s birthday. M was my ex. Maybe we would meet. Even though i had to steer clear of her. But that’s not how it works.
Anything in size 40? I asked.
You need a 44 – he said without missing a beat.
You sure? I wanted to ask. But i didn’t ask. Because i didn’t want to know.
You won’t get that size easily–, he confided, -this is a young man’s market. I looked around; people milling around, all in T’s, caps-denims, showing muscles, vigour. Most were young, most were men. and yes – most were fit.
I know just the place, he said as i turned to leave.
Take me there & i will give you 200 to just do that, I cracked a one-liner. He heard me, laughed, said – wait a while. So, i did.
I watched Mr. Snake-oil at work. He kept directing customers to a particular shop called Reliance. He never sold anything himself. Still a lot of stuffed white envelopes came his way. He nodded at the men who got it to him before pocketing it. The men were all wearing a white t’s-denims & caps. On their T-shirt was the alphabet R.
I was getting hungry, restless. I wanted to sit down. no chance on that busy street. So, i waited. Even though I didn’t really want to.
Follow me, he abruptly said. Then he got up, began walking away. I had no choice but to follow. His shop was left just like that, unattended. But i knew just like him – nothing would be missing.
We entered narrow lanes, funny shops with fuzzy names. They all seemed to be selling whites & denims. Till we reached the corner. And there it was.
Now the corner wasn’t so narrow. A wide highway ran next to it. At the curb was the building. Its name board caught the winter sun & shone – Reliance.
Oh, oh! it’s closed.
Mr Snake-oil’s words shook me. looked closely at the shut shutters. Dejected I turned to go. Wordlessly we walked back to the narrow lane. To a tea-shop. He ordered tea. I drank, he didn’t. He didn’t disturb me as i took my first sip. Then he said –
The 200 you promised.
I looked up. He was smiling.
Yeah right – I didn’t smile. Then i finished my tea, got up to leave.
You said it not me, he chided me. I shook my head. Turned to walk away cursing him, cursing Reliance, cursing….
Cursing the dark, i opened my eyes. In my room the darkness refused to die. But i knew it was over. In the distance my laptop lay shut.
The morning sun rose as i finished writing this piece, . In my fitness dream, i did pay Mr Snake-oil. Not just two hundred but three hundred. Because now i had written. All thanks to him. And thanks to my fitness dream.