Words and Voices: Battle Scars of a ‘Baby Elephant’

Words and Voices: Battle Scars of a ‘Baby Elephant’

Battle Scars of a ‘Baby Elephant’

by Simran Chhabra


I remember

I remember very clearly how you looked at me

With that expression of pity

Sometimes disgust

That eventually turned into sympathy

Only because you thought I wasn’t good enough

 

I very distinctly remember that face you made
When you noticed the stretch marks on my arms and my legs

That expression of disgust when you saw ‘the fat girl’ wearing the mini dress

I remember how you told me
‘Use coconut oil twice a day to make those marks go away.’

How you very casually pointed at the marks on my bare shoulders when I wore my favourite black dress and said ‘You look beautiful sweetie, but um no one likes to look at that.’

 

I remember the exact day I made food my enemy

And started counting every morsel I consumed

I remember how I found my solace sticking my fingers down my throat

Heaving over the toilet bowl

 

Lying became second nature

‘Yes, I had my dinner’

‘I don’t really know why I have bloodshot eyes’

‘I left the water running by mistake’

‘I like to brush my teeth 5 times a day’

 

I remember the hours I spent in the gym
Punishing my body for being hungry

Logging away miles on the treadmill till I couldn’t breathe

 

Food that I once loved so much

Turned into nothing but a game of numbers

‘An apple has 66 calories, a slice of pizza 266’

‘Stay away from carbs, do you want to make it even worse?’

This game is one that I very artfully mastered

Which is ironic because math was the one subject I despised the most back in school

 

I remember, that time when I picked out the dress I liked

‘Would you like to try a bigger size ma’am, perhaps a longer one would fit you fine?’
As I looked at all the dresses I couldn’t fit into
I heard your well meaning voice scolding me all the way through

‘Do not eat that donut baby, it’ll wreck you’

 

I looked at my body in the mirror

The one that offended you so much

The same on that carried me through heartbreaks and broken limbs

The treasure box of experiences, feelings and memories where my soul resided

 

I put my hand on the crevices feeling every mark and scar

That you deemed so wrong

And I wondered why my battle scars hurt your eyes

 

I wondered how the cellulite under my skin could bother you so much

And the Syrian refugee crisis were ‘None of your business’

 

‘Lose weight in just 10 days’

‘Get rid of all your cellulite’

‘How to get the body your man would like’

These are actual article titles I’m quoting

And a couple of them I might or might not have tried

 

I looked at my soft belly

The one that housed cakes, pizzas, ice creams

Along with a million memories

It reminded me of all the names you so innocently called me
The same ones that would forever haunt my being

‘Godzilla’s mother’

‘Baby Elephant’

and approximately fifty thousand more just like these

2 years and 25 kgs later

All of them still ring in my ears

Time and again

Taking me back to 6th grade

Where it all began

 

Now that you see me

And say things like

‘Oh, I love your transformation.’
‘You look amazing!’

‘I’m sure now that you’ve lost weight you must go out with a million men’

But all your sweet nothings cannot undo

How disgusted you made me feel back then

How you deemed me unfuckable

And my body too fat to be loved
And
Despite this body of perfect proportions

The walls of my heart still ring of those names

And almost like a reflex, I will always look away
Because

Despite all your admiration, appreciation and veneration

Trapped in this 36-28-36 is still a ‘Baby Elephant’ still too scared to eat, from within