What happens when you get too used to the life you live?
Either you soak yourself completely into it without questioning its quality in order to die contented with a grateful heart Or there is a pretty good chance that all of a sudden you are gonna wake up and hate everything about it…. And then again, What happens if it all reverses?
I once met a man in his late thirties dressed in maybe a XXXL t-shirt and huge three-quarter pants that I would have probably swam in if I had ever dared to try on. My jaw dropped to see his gigantic build. He was new to the park and the park goers watched him like some extra terrestrial being. No one had ever seen him before and all eyes were set on him.
The park was a well planned part of our neighbourhood, covering a large span of land with plenty of personal space provided by trees and greenery. The arrays of hedging divided it into segments of comfort with a narrow path that ran all around the park. Its fresh air and serenity made it a perfect place for meditation and jogging yet it shrunk and choked with curiosity that morning as people chose a particular spot to google and take selfies in an angle in which he unknowingly photo bombed every pic of theirs while he was trying to warmup and shake off his lethargy.
In spite of an estimated 550 pounds or more of body mass, which was a bit too heavy for his compact little feet to carry, he seemed humble and harmless. A simpleton to look at, with a pretty large belly drawing all the attention, hanging to his knees which surely weighed him down, giving the impression that he could barely trot.
Seeing him struggle with a skipping rope, I wondered whatever happened to this guy!!! How the heck did he get to this stage? Being aware of my inability of controlling my facial expression and determined not to let it give me away, I moved to a bench at the rear end of the park. Rather intimidated by his build I didn’t want to even by mistake offend him in any way, after all no one in their proper senses would want to mess with a guy of his structure in the first place and yet the desire to watch him trying to do what seemed impossible, kept me glued.
At that moment he looked less human and more of an animal ready for slaughter, the bulges of fat on his body looked like red rashes, shiny and drenched in sweat. He and his Bullmastiff panted to the same rhythm and their tongues literally dangled out to cool off after every fatigue attack he suffered in intervals. Being on a fitness regime I couldn’t help but giggle hysterically at his pathetic lopsided moves that wriggled his belly and backside like jelly on a plate and everything he did amused me.
I watched him everyday for over two and a half months and nothing seemed to have changed in the way he looked. With a geographical point of view. He still wobbled on his feet and still wriggled and struggled with that rope, though his dog appeared much more active, toned and full of life.
A witty old man who would come to the park for his yoga lessons once described him as “A ball of blubber, sinew and thick tanned skin, which has a mind of its own and refuses to notice his endeavours. Poor little swine!” He sighed.
Whenever our ways met, we exchanged formal smiles, at least I can say, that’s how he kept it. A half forced smile that appeared and disappeared instantly as if he was faking it. I sensed he had come to know all about the fun I use to have on his expense. The fact of him discovering my meanness and how I dehumanized him, always played at the back of my head and each time his strange smile ignited a feeling of guilt that made me feel out-of-place and hesitant to cough up a conversation.
A crescent moon I could say, yes! that’s what it looked like, just about a half-hearted reciprocal to my more than friendly gestures. He might have noticed the warmth of friendship I was sending his way and feared familiarity to change into intrusion. He valued his personal space perhaps that’s why he kept me at bay. He hated eye contact it appeared by the way he would look at me and then make a quick shift in his gaze while his faint expression of etiquettes would fade off into the grey distance, leaving me to ponder and fight the urge of asking him “What was possibly wrong?”
Overcoming my queries I would refrain from pitching those type of questions as by now I had started to develop a kind of admiration and respect towards him. I had promised myself not to dampen his spirit and his never-ceasing efforts to achieve what seemed to be his only dream. How could I play a spoilt sport? When indeed, I secretly marvelled at the strong-willed person beneath all that extra flesh and skin and for once I was able to see him for who he really was “A man who challenged his own limitations” and not just any man at all…
It’s all a matter of perception that makes a world of difference in a person’s life!
© Annadine Charles.