Sunday, 24 May.
What’s on your mind?
I have been fake-smiling so much at the hospital staff, it hurts. Attendants kept barging into my room all night, waking me up, asking if I was okay. Then they would harp on about if there was someone I could call. No, my parents were too busy and no, I couldn’t stand anybody I did know. Not in this state.
As it is, my ex Kartik and his sister Kareena had disappeared during the party. Probably gone to a bar in HKV and gotten drunk. We had free drinks at the launch, what was the big deal in showing me a modicum of support … where was the love I’d shown their million-and- one ventures? Ruhi got me to the hospital. Tejas drove me, and came by this morning to return my bag. He doesn’t talk much – I had to pry things out of him – the complete opposite of Ruhi.
The first time I met Ruhi Singh, I thought she was in school, or at the most, first year of college. She was wearing white sneakers with a white t-shirt and jeans. I thought she was an intern at one of those startup types, looking to feature a product on my blog.
Turned out she wanted to hire me. Hard to believe this tiny girl was the force behind Litracy Books. She took me around the Litracy office, an entire floor of a building that had a coffee shop at the ground level and an up-and-coming e-zine on the first floor. We were up on the second floor with fab views of the village and the lake.
She explained how publishing houses were starting to have their own personalities and that White Dog Books was a huge MNC, but Litracy, an imprint, was unique to Delhi, with room for experimentation and play. She wanted to make Litracy its own entity, and she wanted me to do for Litracy what I’d done for myself.
I was right for the job, no doubt.
Also read: On Moving Out
In the five months since I’d been home, I began blogging and people loved it all: how I looked, what I did, where I went, my makeup, skincare routine, everything. I didn’t even know there was a following for this sort of stuff. And then, I started contacting cosmetic companies and PRs of nightclubs and there was no looking back. Since the beginning of April though, I felt like there was something missing. Maybe it was to do with being without my parents, without my college lifestyle, back in Delhi after almost five years. I needed stability. So I said yes.
I tweeted about my new job – which actually starts tomorrow – and it was overflowing with congratulatory messages. There are 263 likes already. It made me think of the numbers had I actually been at the launch last night, but Ruhi assured me there would be more opportunities to show off my social media skills.
It was 11 am. A doctor should be coming in now and discharging me soon. That’s what the on-call doctor told me last night.
Sure enough, a lady walked in.
She looked to be in her mid-thirties. Tall and thin, the lady looked at me with a piercing gaze. She was wearing a fitted floral shirt with black jeans. There was a white coat over her arm and she had a coffee flask in the other.
“Hi, I’m Maya. How are you feeling today, Aisha?” she said, going to the window and pulling open the curtains. Sunlight streamed in, lighting up the room.
“Ready to be discharged. I don’t have a concussion. Only a nasty bruise that makeup isn’t going to hide for a week,” I pointed at my forehead.
She smiled and poured her coffee. Black. Strong. “That’s a good kind of problem to have, considering.” “Do you recognise me, doc? I’m Aisha, from the blog Every Delhi Girl.”
“Ah, that’s you. Much more vibrant in person. And I’m not a doctor.”
“I’m a nutritionist. I deal with people who eat, or don’t eat, their emotions. And I meant presence you know, not looks. You have more of an effect in person. Like, vibe-wise, you know?”
“Oh. Wow. That’s nice to hear. So can I …? There was way too much milk in what they gave me and it did not smell like any kind of coffee at all…”
“Oh yes, of course!” Maya rinsed a cup and poured me some coffee, then settled down on the couch with the clipboard at the end of my bed.
“Where are your parents?”
“Abroad, travelling for work. I stay on my own. Always have taken care of myself.”
“Why are you here?”
She tapped the clipboard. “Your blood work.”
“I wasn’t drinking. You won’t find anything fishy in there.” “I didn’t find anything, actually. No sodium, no potassium, hardly any iron. Forget about magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Did you know zinc is an essential mineral for the body too?”
“Oh. Hmm. So I need to drink more water.”
“Are appearances very important to you?”
“I like taking care of myself.”
“That has to extend to your body, Aisha. Not just how you look in the mirror. You are slowing down everything in your body. Hypothetically, in an extreme scenario, if this were to continue, your body would shut down completely.”
“Whoa. This is not an extreme scenario.” “It could be.”
“I love my body, I love how I look.” “Maybe too much.”
I felt like I was under a microscope, I realised Maya was one of those people you couldn’t spend too much time with. Too much pressure to say the right things, one wrong move and you disappoint them – and they would tell you so.
Maya spent a good thirty minutes giving me a lecture. She was an LSR graduate, super into ideologies and stuff. That coupled with biology and nutrition, my head was spinning with all the information. My body was stressed, she told me, and this was a wake-up call. I had to set my own standard and focus on fitness before thinking about adhering to any standard society set for me. She pointed out how even a single day with not enough food in my system had left me unconscious. I had to continue visiting her and change my diet completely.
It was hard to believe at first, but not that hard, looking back at the year I’d had. Having returned to India in January, I’d had just over a month of regular eating with my parents. Come March and they were off again to spend three months in some remote village in northern Italy, making wine and writing another book together.
My diet was a mess after they left, what with me promoting my blog and partying 24/7. Now that I’d just started working, I had had no time to recover or ‘listen to my body’, as Maya put it. Sure, that explained why my stomach was rejecting tequila and vodka, and I’d been stuck with wine all of March and April. But I’m only twenty-three. I’m supposed to bounce back in no time. I will.
I will switch my diet around and start exercising if need be. But there is no way I will be putting on fifteen kilos like Maya insisted. I have always been the Venus in every room. I can’t be chubby and graceful at the same time. Have you ever seen a fat ballerina? It doesn’t work that way.
Not to mention, the source of my name and fame, my blog, was a beacon of beauty, something that Delhi girls held precious. It had to reflect an ideal Delhi girl for readers to aspire to be. Holding up a mirror to every Delhi girl was not my intention.
This article is an excerpt from the book Adulting, written by Neharika Gupta and published by HarperCollins.
Featured image credit: Swarna Jain