I used to be able to eat all the time. Occasionally I had chocolate cake for breakfast. It was my favorite dish. When I was with Grandma, I ate it every day. She always let me do what I wanted. Grandma was the kindest person I knew about, viz.
This was before I started school. Mom was probably a bit worried about me at times, but she never let me know. Not really, because she was my mom.
When I started school everything changed. Nobody said anything, obviously, but I noticed that the others gave me strange looks, even if I didn’t understand why.
Then one day everything changed. I think it was in the fifth grade. When I got home my mom had received a letter stating that we had to come to the principal’s office the next day. Mom was angry and disappointed, I cried and cried. That night I actually cried myself to sleep, because I couldn’t understand what I’d done wrong. The next day, in the principal’s office, we were told that both teachers and students were worried about me. I was obese, they said, and apparently it was my mum’s fault. Naive little me didn’t know what it meant, but I was crying because it sounded very scary and silly.
On the way home in the car I asked mom what it meant. She said it was a demeaning word for people who weighed too much. I was dumbfounded. Mom didn’t know what she’d started, and it wasn’t even really her fault.
That afternoon, I refused to eat dinner. «I won’t be obese,» I almost cried. Mom was in despair, but dad calmed her. None of them could force me to eat, either way. The next day I was calmer, and forced myself to eat half a loaf of bread for breakfast. I actually managed to eat some dinner too, I remember. But not supper, never supper.
During the next few months I shed hundreds of pounds. My fat rolls – they had begun to call them that, viz, the guys in my class – disappeared seemingly all by themselves. Mom was probably a bit worried about me at times, but she never let me know. Not really, because she was my mom.
I remember Christmas Eve two years ago as if it were yesterday. Not because it was an especially nice Christmas Eve – in fact it was an ordinary Christmas Eve. My brother and I got knitted socks from our aunt, as always. Dad served lamb ribs with a cigar in his mouth, as always. Mom and Dad drank home-brewed beer, as always.
But I remember it because my dad, having served lamb ribs, looked at me with a mixture of horror and joy in his eyes.
– I’ve gone to great lengths this year, you see! Eat, boy, you look like a skeleton!
«I won’t be obese,» I muttered. Mum and dad exchanged worried looks, but said nothing. It was true what he said, Dad. He had gone to great lengths. The meat tasted divine, and together with mom’s cabbage stew, it was a gastronomic experience. But I ate my half platter, as usual. I couldn’t stomach no more.
I used to be able to eat all the time. Occasionally I had chocolate cake for breakfast. It was my favorite dish.
Now I don’t eat anymore. Haven’t done so for a while, actually. Where I lie now, in a steel bed covered with white sheets in a white room, I think perhaps that’s fine. Mom’s crying now, more often than before. «Why don’t you eat,» she sobs.
«I won’t be obese,» I reply then.