She stared in disgust at the woman looking back at her in the mirror. The sight of the fat rolls and stretch marks made bile rise to the back of her throat.
Pig. How can you even subject people to the sight of you? You’re disgraceful, pig.
She stepped onto a bathroom scale, waiting impatiently for the numbers to settle.
No change from the previous day. She cursed. She hadn’t eaten anything the previous day! Why was there no change?
She sunk to the floor and sobbed.
She had not always been this way. Once upon a time, she had been a woman.
She had had a life. Now, she was just a pig.
Raeesa Mansoor had always had a healthy appetite (and a few extra centimetres on her hips to show for it). As a child, she’d been
teased good-naturedly by family but as she grew older that teasing evolved.
Soon, she received admonishments to eat less and eat more healthily at every meal. Her mother despaired over her ever getting married, often repeating the dire warning that men were visual creatures and no man would want a fat wife.
Despite all of this, Raeesa did get married. Her marriage was a good one, happy and fulfilled but there was one thing lacking – children.
It was common for well-meaning friends and family to advise Raeesa that she needed to lose weight if she wanted children and this, out of everything, was the warning that struck fear into her heart.
The fire of her fear was fed by comments at the dinner table from a frustrated husband who wanted children just as much as she did. Raeesa felt helpless. Her happy life was crumbling around her. And so, she made a conscious change.
The change began quite suddenly. Food became her enemy. Cravings were the whispers of demons that she needed to fight. She weighed everything she put into her mouth and stepped on a scale more often than she stepped on her musallah.
At first, she limited herself to eating 1800 calories a day – just enough to sustain herself. As her impatience and longing for a child grew, she dropped the number mercilessly.
The weight began to pour off. She received compliments everywhere she went and the encouragement fuelled her determination. She kept going, ignoring hunger pangs, ignoring hair loss and dizzy spells, ignoring everything but that number on the scale.
The more weight she lost, the less she ate. The whispers grew louder. Pig. Glutton. Don’t you want to be a mother?
Lying became a way of life. Lies to her husband that she’d eaten before he got home from work, lies to her friends that she was too busy for coffee or brunch because she couldn’t keep hiding how little she was eating, lies to anyone who asked how she was losing weight.
Raeesa was lost. She’d become Pig, the giant, disgusting woman she saw in the mirror. The one with non-existent fat rolls and a face
smeared with food who taunted her and reminded her that she was a filthy glutton.
Things came to a head the day her husband walked in on her in the bathroom, desperately trying to bring up the meal he’d just insisted she eat with him.
You’re killing your babies, she heard with every bite she put in her mouth.
He dragged her to a doctor, refusing to listen to her protests, even threatening to physically pick her up if she did not co-operate. The doctors had revealed her secrets and suddenly, her hidden battle was thrown into the open.
The same well-meaning busybodies who’d advised her to diet were now tsking and shaking their heads at her.
She hated them. She hated the doctors. She hated the therapists. She hated her husband. Most of all, she hated herself, for getting caught.
The same question was asked of her, day in and day out…
Why did you do it? Why won’t you eat?
She refused to answer.
They threatened her with intravenous feeding and terror seized her.
They were going to kill her babies.
She screamed and fought and, finally, begged her husband to save her babies. She pleaded with him to stop them, that the poison in those tubes would kill their children.
He held her to him and told her gently that there was no baby. Because of what she’d done there would never be any babies. Her body was too damaged, he said.
The irony struck her as hilarious and she began to laugh.
She had killed them.
She was a murderer. She’d murdered her own dreams.