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Growing up body shamed

Five years earlier, a friend’s nasty comment made Ananya start hating her body. She decided to change into a new person; one who effortlessly fits into all kinds of clothes, who shuns food unless it’s salad, and who can never be called ‘Miss Piggy’ – and to cut everything from her ‘old’ life, including her best friend, Raghu, for being witness to her humiliation.

Ananya was on her way to becoming who she wished to be, but she’s continued to see herself as a work in progress.

One day, her parents announced that they were expecting a baby, which worried her. To make matters worse, Raghu reappeared in her life …

Andaleeb Wajid’s latest novel for young adults is a touching and funny story about a young girl’s journey to acceptance and self-love. Here’s a glimpse into her struggle as she finds her way.

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Mirror mirror front cover
Mirror, Mirror||Andaleeb Wajid

I felt a little guilty about the way I had been treating Ma so I went looking for her. When I didn’t find her at home, I called her phone.

‘I’m back home. Where are you?’ I asked.

‘I left you messages. You didn’t see?’ Her voice was a little muffled. Where was she?

‘No. Why? Where are you?’

‘At the gynaecologist,’ she said. What? Already?

‘But you just found out yesterday!’

‘At my age, sweetie, you can’t be too careful,’ she said. ‘Okay, I have to go now.’ She hung up and I continued staring at my phone.

At her age?

Mom was just forty-three. But . . . having a baby at her age . . . I suddenly felt a spasm of fear. What if something went wrong and she died? All because of this stupid baby.

My throat closed with panic. I needed to talk to someone but didn’t want to call up Nisha. Obviously, I didn’t want to talk to Anirudh about it either. I called up Papa instead.

‘What is it?’ he asked, his voice coming muffled too.

‘Are you also at the gynaecologist’s?’ I asked, surprised.

‘Yes, of course,’ he said gruffly. ‘What is it, Ananya?’

‘I . . .’ I didn’t know how to tell him what I’d been thinking.

‘Nothing. I’ll see you at home,’ I said.

‘Okay,’ he said and he hung up too.

I sat on my bed, feeling out of sorts. I needed to do something. I needed to take my mind off this panic.

I rolled out my yoga mat and did a few stretches, and then sat down, trying to calm my mind. It wasn’t working. My mind was fixated on something else. Something with chocolate in it.

No, we’re not going there, I told my mind firmly.

Please?

One square of dark chocolate wouldn’t hurt anyone. I knew Ma kept a stash in the fridge but I had never ventured near it, as though afraid it would bite me.

 

Saliva pooled under my tongue and I felt an unbearable urge to just taste one little piece.

No. I knew exactly how to change that. I got up from the yoga mat and, bracing myself, walked over to the mirror.

That one piece of chocolate is going to show on your tummy, I told myself, making myself study my reflection. On your thighs. Do you want that?

I pinched my stomach and winced at the pain. Despite all the crunches, this was never going to go away, was it?

Fat bitch. Ugly cow. You’ll always be like this.

The thought of chocolate was no longer appealing. I sat in the hall, waiting for my parents to return home and when I heard the sound of the car, I got up to meet them at the door. I looked for an indication on Ma’s face that everything was all right. But she looked fatigued and anxious.

‘What is it? Are you going to die?’ the words tripped out of my mouth before I realized how silly I sounded.

Ma sidestepped me and walked towards the living room slowly. Papa followed her, looking grim, holding on to a file.

I held his thick wrist and he stopped. ‘What is it? You guys are scaring me,’ I whispered to him.

He looked confused. ‘Why are you scared? Everything is fine,’ he said. I didn’t believe him because his face looked drawn and worried.

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