“You didn’t think about it that’s why you lost it!” he shouted at her as he turned his back on her. He bit his lips fighting the tears, but his eyes started welling up. He closed them and breathed heavily, but tears started to flow. The girl gazed at the people dining at Solibao, the elderlies on nearby benches, students walking down the Lake Drive sidewalk, and men with placards across the street who are staring at them. Ashamed, she bowed her head and tried to take him by the hand to escape the eyes glued at them. But he managed to avoid her grip, and just ran towards Igorot Park. She watched him leave in silence, and walked towards Harrison Road.
As they left, I continued walking to catch the next jeep for Balacbac. I looked at the bag of honeydew and strawberries I had in hand, thinking, “Edi sana kung ganun lang kadali mawala ang isang bagay, buburahin ko na sa utak ko yung taba ko!” But, it is not that easy!
Senselessly staring from the window of the jeep later in the afternoon, I was thinking about my day. I was fine. I received my paper and exam from Anthropology 170 and was happy because I passed both – today could have been a good day. Earlier in the morning, I felt the need to reorganize my time because I have to read two novels and three plays for my Western Literature class in just a week; realized I needed to go the store because I’ve got two baskets of laundry and have no detergent; and, got a call from my ‘friends’ who had the nerve and the audacity to ask help for a paper but would deliberately not take my calls nor reply to my messages if ever ‘I’ need help.
Yes, it was just the typical ‘Fred’ day – a day when I wish I can just have all these finished and have a vacation and go back home to Isabela and be with people I haven’t seen in months. Everything in this wish would have been fine until I realize it would mean another reunion filled with greetings of “Naku! Ang taba mo na!” Yes, these are instances when I further wish I could make everyone I know always see me just so they wouldn’t have to point out things that have changed while we were apart. But I can’t, and it hurts me. Even further, these are times that I wish that their comments would be sharp as knives so I can use them to cut some of my body parts to fit their unknowingly-insulting-limited-view; or I can just use them to scoop their eyes out and cut into several pieces then glue them all over their faces so their sight would be big enough to fit me. But, it’s a double burn because I still can’t, and it hurts me even more. Then, it is the time I start loathing myself.
I loathed myself neither because I was fat nor because there were a handful of unknowingly-insensitive people out there; but because I know what was wrong with me but not acting upon it. I used to eat whatever food I saw on the table, and of whatever quantity. As long as I can, I would eat: in the morning, right after my 10:30 AM class, before my 3:00 PM class, while walking to the terminal in the afternoon, early in the evening, and right before I sleep.
I was nearly Obese II because I let my love for food go beyond the limit, though I never stopped loving it. It was my forever; but then, I believed it’s got to slow down, and take the backseat. But it turned out to be just as painful as moving on from a heart break. To lose and be left, by something you’ve religiously devoted your whole life to, isn’t an easy thing. It’s like uprooting a thousand-year-old tree. The roots tangled and ran deeply through my inside, coiled in my flesh that digging and meddling and pulling it would leave me bloodied.
Diet was, and still is not easy. However, I needed to do this, for myself. No one could have this finished for me; it was my own ugliness to carry.
Like a man in despair or just a typical student with papers due the next day, I slept over these insecurities. I needed rest to think of what I’ve had, what I’ve done wrong, what I’ve lost, and what I’ve been. I needed a break, even if it meant deactivating my social media accounts because I intended not to make any unnecessary communication with people who can discourage me. I needed silence, even if that meant I can’t hear the sound of the chicken or the fries being deep fried or the ‘Ting!’ of the oven indicating another plate of calories. I needed to pull myself out of bed early to walk, since I have to be realistic, I still can’t run long distances. I needed to research and read several books for an effective meal plan to replace my habitual indulgence. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of heart break, I held on tightly to the old me; then, forced my fist open, peeled back my fingers one by one, and let the thing go. I let go of the added bulk, the extra pounds, for me to be lighter and be able to soar higher – or walk faster, even.
“Para!” said I to the driver, and to my self – to put a stop to everything that’s keeping me from changing, from moving on. As I entered our house my aunt saw me with the fruits I intend to eat for dinner. “Nagre-reduce ka? Wala, nasa genes na natin iyang bilbil!” she said, laughing. All I can do was nod and smile but a wave of disappointment washed over me deep inside. Indeed, like the process of moving on, one tends to have setbacks, several of them; and I know it’s still a long, arduous race track ahead of me, but walking is a good cardio, isn’t it?
I just need to think enough about this.