There’s a wobble in my belly. Especially when I laugh out loud. I only notice it because of late, there’s been so much laughter in my life. That perpetual little food baby has made a reappearance. That gentle bulge in my lower abs? I can feel it again when I rub my hands over my belly, or pat it after a very satiating meal. And there’s been a lot many of those. Meals enjoyed fully, with a generous side of laughter. When I smile now, it shows. Because my cheeks are propped up, more rounded. More me. My abs ache. Not from exercise, because there’s been close to none of that, but from laughing hard, while sitting around and sharing a meal.
I’m rediscovering tastes and associated feelings, that I had momentarily forgotten. That pinch of sugar in the occasional cup of tea that I’ve missed so much. The Sunday night cake fudge, devoured in bed. The gluttony that strikes, as it invariably does when I PMS, which can only be abated with a thoughtlessly, guiltlessly scarfed-down helping of rice, slice of pizza or a giant serving of pasta. That perfectly fluffy white bread chicken sandwich at Koshy’s that I love so much. The first plain dosa I ate in six months. The hoppy grainy freshly brewed beer. I’ve tasted it all with such gusto, and it’s awakened my sense of taste with such fury. But it’s not just the taste. Food is such an essential part of my being, my wiring, my brain. Sometimes it’s a feeling — of comfort, of peace, of equilibrium, of excitement. Sometimes it’s a memory — of my grandmother, of Goa, of my childhood, of my mother, sister or father, of a friend with whom I shared a specific meal, of a time in my life, of boys I loved because we loved all the same kinds of food. I’m allowing myself to taste it all — the food, the feelings and everything in between. And when that happens, I am not cheating.
I’m finding new spaces for relationships around food again. Breakfasts with VC, entertaining at home again, cooking a whole lot of food for friends, weekly soup for my mother, creatively conceiving special meals with my sister, upping the ante and making a special meal for VC, cooking it together. Food is not mere sustenance, it is a big piece of the puzzle that is me. To deny its existence had begun to feel like I was altering the shape of me, changing the very essence of me.
I’m filling up my jeans again. For a wide-hipped Indian girl like me, the immediate shrinkage was most obvious when I suddenly noticed all the space that was suddenly available in my length of the legs of my jeans, and how much significantly less space I occupied in any chair I sat in. I felt small. Shrunk. Before long, my spirit shrunk to match my size too. There was nothing empowering about that.
I’m slowly inching back to feeling like my jeans fit right again. I’m filling up, with a deliberate sort of reclaiming of space. In every seat I take, in the clothes I wear, in the space I occupy wherever I go, I take up space. I am me, big, round-butt, wide-hipped, thick-thighed me.
Slowly, but surely, I’m reclaiming my mojo. I’m finding home, right here within this body. In all it’s imperfection. I’m reclaiming the space it needs and deserves, rather than shrink it back to fit the cubby holes I wanted to fit. I’m reclaiming my mojo. With what I put in my plate, at the dining table, and the fuel that I give myself, as much as I am with the energy I put into everything that I do.