It’s been two hours that I have been subconsciously shaming my body. Telling myself that I am not perfect, not presentable, not the best that I can be, maybe? I have understood that “men” in our society aren’t allowed to be insecure about these things, or women for that matter. They are supposed to get up there, feel guilty and work on their imperfect selves. But I have looked at the accumulated fat on my thighs three times now.

It’s been two and a half hours. I have gone back to the profile of that social media influencer twice now. The one I unfollowed, because she did not stand up for all types of bodies that exist, the one that had posted “a cow is skinnier than that” on her high school best friend’s prom photo and created huge drama? Yes. That one. Her follower count has steadily increased since then, but not her tolerance towards people who do not fit into an XS size cocktail dress. I have admired her collar bone a couple of times.

Coming to college was somehow not real until the very last week before I moved to Bangalore. I was really happy that I was leaving home, actually. Independence is luring before you understand how much of a utopian concept it is, isn’t it? But the last few days, it just all became clear to me. It was not going to be as fun and happy as I thought it would. At least at first.  A new city, new people, strangers that too. What would I do? The fear was big and monstrous in my head when I waved my parents goodbye at the Bangalore airport. My heart was beating faster and faster as I took a cab home, my bad, hostel. I felt kind of forced into this, even though it was very much my own choice to come to Srishti.
I was not ready for this. I should have stayed back home. I might as well have gone to one of the colleges in Kolkata that I got into. I should never have left my comfort zone. This was, very certainly, not for me.

A Few Days Later

I am walking down an empty street in Yelahanka, I know now that you don’t call this part of the city Bangalore. I have just finished my dinner at the dining hall. All my friends are at this party that I refused to go to because I have assignments due. The street is so very empty that you can hear the howl of a dog from kilometres away. I am feeling really alone, lost, out of place. I think of calling one of my parents, family member or my best friend. I take my phone out of my pocket when I see that it is dead. My forehead starts sweating despite the cool breeze that blows against my face.
I’m halfway to my hostel. I hear footsteps behind me. At this point, I am genuinely terrified. My animal instinct tells me to run, but before running it also tells me to look back once to check who it is. I decide not to act on either of my thoughts. I just keep walking, not looking back. I am almost there. My hostel is right around the corner or so I convince myself. I hold my breath and attempt to walk faster as I hear “Jishnu!” from behind. It is a familiar voice! I turn around, involuntarily almost, while I keep walking. My heart drops. My body just becomes cold somehow from the sudden relaxation that has engulfed it. It is my hostel mate, Jonathan. A smile lightens my face up and I give out a gasp of relief. As I wait for him to join me and we walk together towards our house, I feel a little more confident about life here. I feel a little less alone. I am still scared, afraid and nervous, but not so much. Tomorrow is going to be a better day. I am going to make it. I am going to be fine.