I hope you will read this till the end. If you do, thank you for reading. If you don’t, I don’t blame you. People don’t like to make efforts even for the ones they know and love, so I don’t expect you to make an effort for a stranger. It’s not long though, this letter. I won’t take up much of your time. And I’m glad you’ve found it, whoever you are.
This is about my life and death.
The first thing you need to know is that I am fat. I might even be obese, but I’m not so sure about that label. But I am overweight for sure. It’s because I overeat. That is my compulsion. It’s a disorder, I think, but I’ve never been diagnosed by a doctor. I’ve done research on it, so I know it’s a condition I suffer from. I cannot help it. I eat till my stomach is full, and then I eat some more. Food helps me. It is my only source of comfort. It is self-destructive, I know. I have tried losing weight. I have tried diet and exercise and detox and medications. Six years of trying and fighting and pushing, but nothing is changing. My will power isn’t that great. I do make progress for a few days, but in the end it’s like for every step forward, I somehow take two steps back undoing my progress. It’s like a reach a point where I can’t control the hunger anymore. It drives me mad and I end up binging. It’s not progress, in any way, shape, or form. It’s just a process. A pointless, painful process. Nothing seems to help my weight and eating disorder, and I think I’ve finally accepted nothing ever can or will.
The next thing is that I am short. I have always been short for my age, which is eighteen. I am not even of average height. I am well below average. It has been the bane of my existence, maybe even more so than the overeating. Because men are not supposed to be so short. I know there are men much, much shorter than me, and people call them “little people” and “dwarfs”. Whenever I think about them, I do realize that I am blessed to be taller than them, but then I think “tall” is a word than has never been associated with me. I feel grateful, but also sour. Why couldn’t I be just a little bit taller? Why am I so short? Genetics, from the start? Something I did in my early years that affected my physical growth? I don’t know. But I’ve finally accepted that nothing can or ever will change that.
What makes it worse is that I don’t even look my age. This is my next problem. I hate it when people mistake me for a child. When people see me, they don’t see a man–they see a baby-faced boy, who is maybe thirteen or fourteen years old. One look at me and people ask me what I want to be when I grow up. They talk to an eighteen year old man as if he is a child. Eighteen year old people talk to me as though I am not their equal. It isn’t until that someone tells them my age that they start treating me “normally”. And even then, I’m never the one to correct their mistake. I never like to correct their presumption about my age. I have done that, and it sounds like a child complaining to an adult for unfair treatment. It’s embarrassing. It only makes me seem more like a child. That’s why I let whoever else is around do it, be it family or friends. I don’t do things that make me seem immature or childish. I make every effort to come across as an adult, but none of it ever seems to be enough. I have finally accepted that nothing can or ever will change that.
I am shy. I am introverted. I am very scared to approach strangers. I don’t like to run errands where I am required to interact with people. Things like going to the bank, or going to pay an electricity bill; these things terrify me. I don’t know what about those situations terrifies me exactly, but I am always running away from them. I ask for help or find a way to get someone to tag along. In the worst case, I ignore the work for so long that someone else is forced to do it in my stead. I just cannot bring myself to speak to a stranger. Why can I not overcome that? I do not know. But I’ve finally accepted that nothing can or ever will change that.
I can’t bring myself to speak to girls. I completely shut down in front of them. I know it stems from a deep-rooted sense of inferiority. It means I am insecure. All I can think is that this is a by-product of my being short, fat, and introverted. In school, I used to be bullied. I used to be concerned for my own safety, I would never fight back. I would be too scared that bullying would escalate if I did. I am insecure about the way I look, move, behave, walk, and talk. But not anymore.
I do not have friends. Perhaps I have one or two of them whom I meet once a week, if even that. I have known them for ten years or so and yet I don’t give them much importance. They do give importance to me, much more than I deserve, but I have never really put much stock in having friends. Growing up, I preferred to keep my relationships limited, because I was shy and fat and short, which I still am, fearing judgement, clamming up around new people. I didn’t want more people judging me. As a result, today, I have no real fiends to speak of. I don’t know why the “friends” I have now even keep in touch with me. I suppose it’s because they are good people. I have never been a good friend, or a good person, really. I don’t even like to leave my house to meet anyone.
I am a home-body. I don’t like giving people the chance to judge me based solely on my appearance. I can feel eyes on me everywhere I go, whether it is the mall, the doctor’s, anywhere. Out of all the things in my life, this is something I can control. If I go nowhere, no one can stare and judge. I have absolute control over this. It is one aspect of my life that goes just as I want it to. But even staying at home and doing nothing can slowly make you rot. I am tired of doing nothing, but at the same time I don’t want to do anything. It is a fatal contradiction. But not anymore, because I know what to do now.
Today, I failed in an aptitude exam for engineering college. My father wants me to take up it up, but I don’t see a future in that. In fact, I don’t see a future for me anywhere, any time, at all. My father did not take my failure well when I told him an hour ago. He was already inebriated with half a bottle of scotch and two beers, which was enough to send him reeling. He unleashed a kind of ruthless violence I could never have even imagined. Three of my fingers are broken. My right eye is black and blue. My T-shirt is stained with blood from my two broken front teeth. My back still stings from the lashing of his belt. The pain across my body has subsided, but it still throbs and pulses with sudden bursts of agony.
I often ask myself why I was born like this. Why I was given this unhealthy body, this congested mind, this over-sensitive heart, this painful existence. I didn’t want this life. I don’t want to live it. I am tired of trying every single day. I am tired of fighting and pushing and shoving. I have had enough. I am tired of crying myself to sleep every night praying that I never wake up. But I don’t have to worry about that anymore.
Tonight is different. It is a tearless night for me. I feel happy. Content. It’s strange, unfamiliar, but also somewhat calming. I will sleep peacefully and not feel any of this pain soon. I can sense it in every muscle and fiber of my body that this is a new beginning.
Yes. It’s a new beginning.
As I sit here, on the edge of the roof, ten stories above every else, I feel quiet, my mind still. I brought my favorite book is with me: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I am clutching it to my chest. Ever since I read it ten years ago, it has been my touchstone. A wonderful book that has brought me so far in life, filling me with hope of a better future that never came. But that’s okay. Maybe it awaits me in the next life.
It is cold up here on this stone parapet. The stars above look like pinpricks of gold. The people down on the street down look like tiny ants.
If you have read this far, if you have made the effort, I am forever grateful to you. You are a better person than most people. You are a better person than me, than I could ever be. I feel better, too, having written this all out, but it’s time go. I’m hoping for the best. For you and me.
Before I go, I’d like to say one last thing: Don’t be afraid. Being afraid is for the weak.
Thank you for reading,
© Amaan Khan, November 15, 2018.