A Walk into Past
The chapter about ’54’ is important for the story to be fully formed in hearts and mind , so I am laying it down right here.
I was in class seventh and my cuteness had been outdoing my chubbiness unlike in class 11th and 12th.
There was a girl named , let’s just say ‘x’ and she lived within the 500 meter radius from my house. We both used to catch the school bus together that was around 500 meter far away from her house (don’t start calculating anything yet). She , I and Kunal (one of my first best friends) were the pick up stock from our street that was to be taken by the bus.
And we had been following this pattern for 2 years now , when I was in the seventh standard. She was introduced to my class that year and I had found her to be genuine and simple , which made me fall for her.
I blushed whenever I was near her , she found me funny and I simply wanted to be around her. Till class 9th I was always around her but then classes were further divided and we had been separated in class tenth.
It was the year I had taken advise from Tulika, on how to start a conversation with 54 and know more about her.
As for the bus ride together , she began getting annoyed on seeing me even when I didn’t open my mouth or sit near her.
As If her frown wasn’t poison enough for my heart to sink down, she once told me to stop bugging her and to stay away. I knew right away that someone had told her about my crush on her, Because I hadn’t spoken to her more than once in all these years.
In class 10th Soham, the red cheeked boy had found me all heartbroken and shattered, he comforted me till he felt right or I did. I’m regretting that I didn’t thank that boy for all that counselling.
My situation stated stable by now however my obsession had prevailed and was searching for a medium to get out of my head. And so I discovered a number
A number that had been formed by the initials of her first and last name. And after turning those initials upside down I got the number ’54′. Hina Sharma. hs. Flip it and see the magic.
So every morning I scribbled the number on the rightmost corner of the blackboard . And if that wasn’t madness I began hallucinating the number on every car’s number plate , in phone numbers, page numbers that held the chapters I was to open and read.
I’m not proud to say and I don’t want to say this but… I had finally lost it. I had gone cuckoo.
My habit of scribbling ’54’ on the black board every morning had come to the detection of my class mates. Yashika being one of them began her investigation, and like every detective after losing all hopes on the case turns on to interrogation.
Yashika did too but she called almost all the other students of our class to help her with it.
The interrogation I faced was not the formal and crisp FBI investigation but the street mafia type of investigation when a mole is discovered in the gang. With them being twenty and I being one , I had given up.(The ratio being slightly unfair)
So they had my whole story. I don’t recall whether it was my good faith in them or their sympathies for me , that they never uttered a word of my story to anyone.
Like this I had gotten back to being who I was. This whole phase had left me with a few scars. I was afraid to talk to a girl and afraid to be around one . I decided to remember her as simply a number. A number that was nothing more than an impression , a number that consisted no story, no feeling , no name… Just as a number.
The 54th street
On the 54th street
At 12 in the night
When the winds and silence meet
And the moon is out of sight,
The clouds when hiding the light
And covering the moon
Death darts On the streets
Trying to find life soon.
Because in this world
Of damned truth and true lies
Only the livings get the perks
As they breathe through days.
Love being first on their lists
Joy the second thing ,
Life, the only word on their lips
Greed, the only song they want to sing.
Only on the 54th street
Dreams become lies
And the devil smiles at god
As death longs life.
Its a new world out there
Where children play with lives
And stars seem to speak
While the dead come Alive.
The truth speaks for itself
While lie hides behind
The king of hell
And the angels won’t ever speak their mind.
All the spirits of the dark
Dance with souls so Devine
There is nothing but sparks
In the blue starred sky.
Where do you find such a carnival
Where can you see such horrid yet enchanting deeds
Come , visit us some night
On the 54th street.
Chapter-6: The confirmation
November was big on the calendars, fog was hiding the blue skies, the evenings had turned the table on daytime.
For our school Amiti , it was the time of the year when competitions were on the cards. And so one was organised in our school on the topic of ‘environment’.
“To the auditorium y’all”,
Rajiv sir announced to the whole class in the first period.
Slowly like caterpillars everyone formed a long line and started moving towards the final destination.
The auditorium was already filled with students of other classes , only the chilling ground was assigned to hold us. One of the heater was right behind us to warm off our chill.
However, the chill of the floor had started filling my bladder. Soon enough I was ready to leave to the nearest washroom before my pee decided to leave from it’s nearest exit.
With the permission of my teachers (and blessings of the almighty) I left the auditorium, and fortunately was just in time for the excretion.
The way back from the washroom to the auditorium was filled with cold winds and chills back my spine. I watched the freely dancing trees from the window of the hallway as I walked.
The scenery consisted of blanche(french for white). Like heaven . I wrapped my arms around myself , hugging away the chills. The winter coats weren’t cosy enough to shake off the tremors from my body.
I opened the auditorium door and wrapped in my own arms entered just at the sight of Ria standing on the stage and explaining the presentation that was projected at the big screen behind her.
Suddenly a realisation of warmness hugged me tight kicking off the winter breezes, my heart had for some reason begun throbbing madly.
Her words(although I don’t remember them) had made my mind go numb for a while. Her features had robbed me of my senses. All the other students had disappeared from my sight, only she was visible, standing on the stage and speaking so beautifully of god knows what.
I was about to stumble on the stair case as my eyes refused to let go off the sight of her beautiful face.
“Son,son..son watch where you’re going.”
Said a teacher of some other class as I was about to fall off the stairs.
All the action came to rest except one, my heart continued to throb. And I settled on the ground with the ‘furnitures ‘ and a feeling that wasn’t one I hadn’t acquainted before but still felt new, conquered me. I realised that once again, I was in love. But again, she was an angel, her words were sugar , her eyes were in summer,the winter breeze that would send chills back your spine or in winters were the warmness that would hug you.
And her smile was a poetic device, so beautiful, so engaging, so deep, just so perfect. On the other side I was a chubby boy,and nothing could change that.
Soon after that day , in a week or so I had decided that my friends could know about her.
“Guys..” , I said, “I’m in love.”
Piyush looked at me “I knew it since a long time , we are totally made for each other.” He joked.
“Who’s the one ?” Sri asked me.
” That’s what I’m leaving for you both to guess.” I told them.
Both of them looked around ,
“from this class ?”
Sri asked. I nodded as the answer to the question.
“Okay let’s see .”
Sri sqinted his eyes “Sheena ?”
I shook my head.
“You go Piyush.”
Piyush looked around, “Ria.” He said.
Yes he was surprisingly right but I didn’t want to end the game so soon.
“Nope” I said.
After seven to eight failed attempts by Sri I told them that Piyush’s first choice was the right answer. Piyush bragged for rest of the day for his major achievement while Sri took the day to digest the news.
And the bulls were left open at me . The jokes were all about me and the laughs just at me.
” Hey guess how would Ria and Shivam look together in a photo?” Piyush grinned at me yet asking Sri the question.
“Don’t know.. Timon and Pumba?” He laughed and Piyush accompanied with a giggle.
“No stupid, they won’t fit in one together, Shivam will take all her space!”
And then in a chorus both laughed their heads off while I hid my embarrassment with a fake smile. Classes became awkward for the following few days. Sri and Piyush never stopped joking around me, I could not stop looking at her from a distance, she would not stop smiling and looking beautiful and I couldn’t stop being fat .
I mean with every proceeding day the pain of not getting anywhere near her overtook the throbbing of the heart. Something had to be done, but I hadn’t just been aware of that yet.
Chapter-7: Two broken leads
This chapter may not relate that much to Ria now but later the same characters that I am going to introduce here would be of great importance in the later parts of the story.
Part A -Going back a little bit.
Okay so it was physical education period and everyone had been losing drops of sweats as they played football, cricket or basket ball , while I the obese kid sat busting my sweat in one corner of the field.
“Why aren’t you playing?” Demanded the sports teacher while on his routine round.
But because I was just too fat to act and too tired to give an excuse, I gave out a groan that wasn’t meant to be as loud as it came.
I groaned “arghhh” , just like an angry pirate or something. “Wha .. What did you just say?” , asked the confused sports teacher.
And it was hard explaining to him that I hadn’t cursed him but had uttered a simple and foolish cry.
I even had to repeat that groan to make him believe.
“So you’re saying you groaned.. Are you an animal or a being? What did you groan anyway?”
” Sir, I..I I said” I explained ,
” Arghh” I re-groaned for him.
“Hmm.. Off the ground now, to your class.” He said and walked off towards another laid-back kid who rolled on the grass.
“Bloody circus !” He cursed walking away from me.
And I walked back to my class while most of the children played. I was just outside the class room when I heard a melodious pop song from inside, the door was half closed but I knew someone had brought his bluetooth speakers .
I opened the door to a crowd of 6 to 7 students who blocked my view of the speaker’s owner. I walked towards them and made my way through the crowd.
There sat Brenden, singing a song in the same voice as the band had sung it. I was blown out of my body to see the guy sing so well and professionally, never in my life had I heard an amazing voice like his.
Brenden being a tall , cute and talented guy had none of the attitude problem and that was one more thing that made him unique. He used to talk to everyone , mix up well in every group. He talked ‘supernatural’ to us , ‘pokemon’ to some other group and movies to some other.
Piyush once said, allow me to quote,
“Brenden is the best guy in this class.”
,followed by the nods of me and Sri.
In later days we had found him writing a story as well. He had no limitations in aspects of his talent . He could write well, he could sing more than well and mix up with anyone. Believe me if any boy wanted to have a goal to reach in life , or to become like someone it would surely be like Brenden.
Part B Going back a little further back
Only a few days were left before the long awaited summer vacations when entered a boy in our class.
“That’s Mohsin ” Sri told me pointing at the boy with the puffed up chest , over straight back and a pair of cool black shoes that differentiated him from the whole class as the uniform was common to all.
He walked looking straight and up just like some employer would in front of his petty workers. ‘Like a boss’ was a quote that might’ve been inspired by him.
Calmly and composedly he kept his bag pack on the chair that stood empty by Piyush’s side.
” And how are you Sri?” He asked as he sat and the children earlier staring at him got back to their jobs.
“Fine dude.” They shook hands. And I introduced myself as Piyush did. And we became good friends us four , but to keep his reputation at par with his personality Mohsin also interacted with other groups such as Ria and Yashika’s group and others as well. He had a gift of mixing well with others just like Brenden.
You could see Mohsin with a pen between his index and middle finger and he pretending to smoke it.
“He keeps doing this in the tuition as well.” Sri told us.
“He smokes ?” Piyush asked.
Sri nodded and then we all gave the talk a moment of silence. Mohsin joined the same tuition as Sri and Ria and Ria had become well acquainted with both.
But It was November and I stood just where I did earlier between assurance(that my heart beat for her) and ignorance(of her not hearing it beat). It was time for me to matter ,to earn her attention. To work up than lay down. I knew I was an obese kid, but it was time to change that.
Chapter-8: A thousand bucks
End November .
I had a weighing machine at my house , it was a manual one not the digital one. However, it showed approximately the correct weight.
Before having breakfast I decided to step on it and face the moment of truth. Banking all my courage and remembering Ria’s beautiful smile I stepped on the machine.
I shut my eyes closed and opened them between the number 96 and 97 kgs.
I was 30 kilos over the weight I should have had. I could fall for the shock was just too strong to handle , however I remembered the past few times when , I would get determined to lose weight and that determination would last for the next 3 kilos and then I would gain double what I would have lost.
In class 6th I was 64, then I lost 2 kilos and re emerged with 68 in class seventh.
In 8th standard I was 78, I lost 3 kilos and then my belly sprung up with an extra 6 kilos.
By class 9th I had touched 85. In class tenth I weighed around 89, I lost 3 kilos with the help of dieticians, and here I was with 96.5 kilos.
No determination was strong enough to sail me through obesity, all of them lasted just to walk me a meter and later on push me back a mile away. I sat on the couch of my room away from my Mom and Dad and tried to think what had gone wrong in my weight management plans.
I needed to recall the determinations that got me to weight loss, the routine I followed and the things that led me to lose hope.
There had to be a flaw in something and I had to find it.
Determinants – I could remember only some of the reasons that shouted for change and forced me to take an action in earlier times.
Case I- Yes I had fallen for someone once before , ’54’ . Though her chapter was worth a ripping, she too, was the reason once. In class 8th I had reached from 78 to 75 for her. However temporarily.
Case II- My parents always told me to lose some weight, eat some less and also my sister who was now married, used to mock me for my weight and lecture me for the same. She , unlike me was thin and beautiful and hence had the full right to set me right.
Case III- Sri was always behind me to lose weight because he wanted me to be his wing man and he wanted to be the same for me. For those who don’t know, wingman of a person is a guy who helps the person to make an impression on a girl and get the girl to talk to them. So the wingmen set a couple together. Whatever his intentions may be , the ultimate result was to be good for me.
I used to leave all the jobs I would be doing and get to intense dieting. Living on fruits , water and nothing else. That wasn’t good because it was short term and I would resort to heavy eating after doing that.
When our classes parted I and 54 proceeded our different ways and so did my determination. Other times the lectures of my family didn’t contain a long term effect or my sister eased on the scolds and let me have my share of food.
These were some of the reasons that came to my mind right now.
It was time for me to assess the,
Okay so what had gone wrong ? What was lacking in my routine or planning?
“Shivam !” I heard my mom’s call.
“Come down for breakfast.” But I was on my way to dieting, breakfast meant only fruits and not the heavy burgers that awaited me downstairs.
And then a thought struck me, it was my resistance that had collided with dissatisfaction. I wouldn’t ever have proper food before getting to dieting and my will wasn’t satisfied.
So I ran to my drawer and opened it to my wallet which contained just a thousand bucks . I stuffed the two five hundred notes in my pocket and ran down for a heavy and hearty breakfast.
Later my parents had gone to attend a function and I being an obese and introvert kid had refused to do so.
I called up all the Junk-Joints and ordered so much that would satisfy me for sometime at least . The thousand bucks got me a large cheese pepperoni pizza , two potato grill burgers, two tacos , a delicious chocolate pastry and of course a half litre coke bottle.
“I will lose all of these calories for Ria… if I survive from cholesterol and heart attack tomorrow.” I said to myself raising the coke bottle to a toast.
And the next day I woke up drenched in heavy sweat of my fat and minor heart aches , but now I was up and I was satisfied.
Chapter-9: The first talk
I had begun my dieting routine and was already loosing some breath out of my system. I would go to the gym at 5 in the morning, worked out for 45 minutes on the treadmill , the cycle and did 50 crunches.
Then I had a glass of milk and went to school.
After school, lunch was some oats and then in the evening I ran for the next 45 minutes on the treadmill in the gym .
In dinner I had fruits to stuff myself and adjust my hunger to a rarely healthy meal. It had been nearly as long as a week when I had lost not more than two hundred grams, yet was not any less determined. It was a tuseday when I was all pumped up with the new resolution I had.
Piyush, as usual was in his fun mode and searched the air for his matter. But unfortunate enough for us both that there wasn’t anything funny going on in the environment.
So what does a bored 6ft. 2 boy do when he has a fat 5ft. 7 boy sitting in front of him?
Who said ‘disturb’ ?
Well that’s the right answer.
Second question, what does a fat boy do when he is being bullied in the presence of his crush?
Yes. He reacts and generates anger that would be uncalled for. And when these situations meet with these actions, there is a big explosion.
“Let me read it ! ” I protested as Piyush snatched away the english book from my hands . “You ain’t getting crap. Fatty” He laughed.
“Give it to me.. Come one giv-it you dumb idiot ” I said like any other troubled fat kid.
“Stop it you ducker” I abused him out of misery. And before I could realise , apologise or regret a hot hard slap slammed against my right cheek.
My face fat shook for five seconds as I kept my eyes shut tight, adjusting to the bolt of pain that felt like a hot fiery piece of iron against my face. I opened my eyes to Piyush’s gritted teeth. I was about to cry as I analysed the situation, I thought maybe Ria had seen me getting slapped.
But not yet.. ” You flash whole! Murder stucker” I shouted trying to push the embarressement off my face but I was just about to be hit. Another bolt of heavy pain attacked my right cheek.
Now she did notice. This time my reaction was spontaneous. I got up and slammed my hand against Piyush’s cheek. His glasses might’ve gone flying away but I knew I hadn’t slapped him as hard. Piyush got up ready tostrangle.
This time everyone noticed and Sri whose useless pleads of trying to cool off Piyush had gone unnoticed, tried to pull Piyush away from me as he grabbed my hairs in his hand heavily as I covered rest of my head with both my hands.
“Leave it Piyush..” Yashika called.
“Shut up!” He shouted back at her. “What’s happening?” The english teacher asked as she saw the scene. A group of boys pulled Piyush away from me.
“What happened ?” , “What’s happening ?” , “Why are they fighting?” . “Fight, fight, fight !” Rang all around the class.
As Piyush was settled two rows away from me he stared me with his red eyes and flared his nostrils. He wiped the tears of anger from his face.
“You’ll die today .” He shouted. A million chills ran back my spine as I heard him say this.
“I’m sorry .” I said breaking the ice but he was not ready to agree for less than breaking a bone of mine. I gazed at my right at Ria while the teacher and other students tried to bring Piyush’s anger to room temperature.
Ria had a common expression of curiosity and interest on her beautiful face,but the smile wasn’t there.
” Meet me after school.” Piyush said.
“5 minutes to go” shouted a boy from the last bench.
This was accompanied with a few laughs from the class and Piyush warming his knuckles.
I simply sat on my seats covering my head , waiting for the pain. The bell rang and school was over. I looked up to see that Piyush had already left the class. I cautiously walked to my bus with nothing in my bag pack but regret.
On reaching home I sent him an apology message but he was over with it, with all friendship and stuff, my endless pleads and request couldn’t bring him back. From the next day I started sitting on the front bench alone as Piyush and Sri sat two rows behind me. I didn’t try to talk to him because I knew my mistake had been greater than his, I was guilty.
On one of the following days Yashika sat by my seat and read the story I was writing. “It’s about a cop ?” She asked holding my register. I nodded, “it’s his jump from past to future, complicated.”
She nodded back and read on. After a chapter or two she decided to let the story be. It wasn’t a fun story after-all. I and Piyush didn’t interact for at least the next 6 days but on the next Monday the previous tuesday had been forgotten and we three sat together again.
“I am sorry brother.” I told him.
“Me too.” He smiled and then Sri cracked one of his bad jokes and everything was as it had been. Life was back on track , my weight showed reduction of 500 grams and Ria had talked to me.
” Are you guys friends again? You and Piyush.”
I nodded .
“Wow.. That’s real friendship.” She smiled .
I nodded because whenever she spoke I couldn’t concentrate on her words , all my attention was taken by her beauty. She smiled and got back to her friends. This was the first conversation I ever had with her.