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February 12, 2017

7. And All That You Bring Forward

Illustration by Gouri Katdare

Venus Rising is a 50-something single woman’s musings on life, relationships and romance

To speed up the detoxification and recharge a sluggish metabolism, I joined an aerobics class, primarily to reap the benefits of the high-intensity cardio workout. The class itself was fertile ground for someone in search of grains of wisdom. Every evening I sweated in a tiny room with about 15 odd women, drinking in the fetid stench of one another’s sweat. Of varying shapes and sizes, they were bound by the singular desire to shed.

Despite the throng and the pong, I kept going – the morning class was a killer, but less of an assault to the olfactory organs. The trainer was a joy to behold; christened the ‘Tyrant Trainer’ (TT) by an astute journalist, she walked around the class with a stick, screaming at the top of her lungs. “Move, come on move, damn it.”

On some days, clad in sexy gear – she had a dream body – she’d yell, “I am going to break your legs if you don’t move them faster.” Sometimes she’d feign orgasmic “oooh…. aahs” as she led the class through three back-to-back Zumba routines set at 100 kilohertz tunes, adding “do it, do it, do it…baby” to the tune of mostly unremarkable lyrics.

On particularly bad days – maybe she was menopausal too – she would pick on one poor pudgy person and pound the hell out of them with her poisonous provocations. For example, “Bhavna, honey, you are finally moving. It must be the d**k in your hand these days that’s making you want to shake your butt. But watch it. There are tighter arses all around. If you don’t get yours in shape soon, he’ll be history.”

As poor plump Bhavna, subject to the speculative glances of other obese Bhavnas, blushed in embarrassment, TT had already turned her wrath on the rest – “Stop laughing bitches. All of you are so fat, that your belly roll doesn’t even allow you to see your own p**sies! Move, I say…faster, faster! Jog, jog, jog!”

People who didn’t move fast enough were sent out into the compound to jog for 30 rounds. This, as anyone who lives in suburban Mumbai will tell you, is akin to being exhibit A in a zoo. Watchmen, drivers and cleaners, mostly migrants from the parochial, patriarchal northern regions, would assemble to watch the fat ladies jiggling their bits in the morning sun. It was a scene out of a funny, but heartbreaking, movie.

Luckily, my quiet – read, depressed – demeanor allowed me to escape TT’s unpredictable wrath. One morning, though, as she was tapping away in her corner at the back of the room, TT said, “Look at this quiet lady who’s nearing 50. Even she has a positive attitude that could put some of you younger angels – no, wait, black Venuses –to shame.”

After class she asked me “But dear, are you depressed? Menopause does that. I don’t think you have a man. You look like you don’t get enough sex.” Amused by her assumption, I smiled and said, “Aren’t we all depressed? Given our times and the constant pressure to be okay?”

TT gave her a rare smile and shook her Afro.

I worked out at TT’s studio for many months and I watched her body, reflected in the wall-to-wall mirrors, melt from amorphous to hour-glass.  Though far, far away from the unreal promise of size zero, the shift in size assisted with shifts in perception – both internal and external. Though the real shift came about when I accepted that I, like millions of women, was different, mostly due to the fact that I had made unconventional career, relationship and life choices.

Love,
Venus

Read Volume 6, here.

Read Volume 8, here.

About the author: Born with a silver spoon, golden girl Venus is a bright and witty fifty-something, whose persona matches that of her archetype. A wordsmith by profession, she believes in saying it as it is. Cougar mommy, woman of the world, she is part diva, part agony aunt, who believes that her vulnerability is her strength. Her life’s mantra: Find beauty, purpose shall follow.  

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