“Just look at that new guy in the corner cubicle. Gosh! He is so hot!” gushed Shalini. She was among the popular girls in office.
Shalini, Ritu, Ankita, Punam - they were the ‘IT' girl group of Magnus Infotech. They were colleagues, pub hoppers and great friends too. Ankita, who was a bit plump physically, felt a bit left out in the group, though. She wasn't comfortable wearing those tight pants and tops that her friends often wore while clubbing. But her friends always encouraged her and told her that if a guy liked her, he would fall for her innocent face and clear eyes and not just her shape. Hearing this, Ankita would gleam with confidence, every time.
That morning, the girls were chatting over coffee about that ‘hot, new guy in the corner cubicle', when suddenly Shalini said, "I need to tell you guys something.
Last week, I met a guy. My parents are literally after my life, you know? They want me to get married asap because I am 28 already.
But they don't understand that I am high-maintenance. I can never fall for someone who is just okay-looking, yaar. Anyway, so I met this guy and guess what? He was fat! A chubby, cute- looking guy, to be precise, who was a software engineer in a multinational company, settled abroad."
“Fat guy?” Ritu looked disgusted and Punam laughed out in affirmation.
“He was really chivalrous, though. Soft-spoken and quite intelligent too. He had read a lot of books and knew about everything from science to mythology. And while he was talking, I just sat there, totally clueless about every single topic he mentioned. Isn't mythology boring?"
"Yes, it is. But, you said he was cute. That’s more important," Punam said with a wink.
“Ya. He was cute. But that paunch! I just can't think of my husband with a paunch. If not a six-pack ab, my husband should have a flat tummy at least!"
"So? It didn’t click between the two of you?" Punam asked Shalini.
"Of course not. I rejected him. I came back home and told my mom that it won’t work out. I cannot imagine myself with a guy who is fat and who doesn’t have a nice body."
Ritu and Punam answered "Obviously", and the girls laughed out loud in unison.
Suddenly they realized that Ankita was late. It was 11.30 am and it was unusual on Ankita’s part to be that late. “There she is,” Punam exclaimed.
Ankita hurriedly punched on the bio metric machine and went straight towards her cubicle. She was looking sad and disappointed. The other girls sensed that something was amiss. They decided to go down to the canteen to have lunch together. But even in the elevator Ankita remained aloof and silent. They ordered food while Ankita just took her regular non-vegetarian thali and sat at the corner table.
“What’s wrong with you Anki? Is everything alright?", Shalini hugged Ankita. As soon as Ankita felt her friend's arms around her, she burst into tears.
With a heavy voice, she said, "Last night, we had a few guests over at my place. My father had called his colleagues' friends with their family to see me for marriage."
"Oh wow, Anki! You didn’t tell us about it. How exciting. But why are you crying?" Ritu quizzed her.
Ankita, while weeping constantly and wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue paper, answered, "Because, he rejected me."
"What? How dare he?", Shalini asked with concern.
"The guy’s father called my dad in the morning and told him that his son didn’t like me. He thought we won’t look good together because he has a well-toned body while I am plump.”, Ankita answered in a low voice.
All the girls exclaimed,"But that's not fair."
"Anki you are such a creative person. You earn well. You are an avid reader. Nobody can surpass you in GK. You look so cute and you have the most beautiful eyes. And the only thing that idiot saw in you was your figure? He is the loser here, Anki. Stop crying." Punam started comforting her friend.
"How dare he body-shame you Anki? He is such a dolt! You will get a man who will love you for who you are. He will be able to see your head and your heart and will be more than happy to make you his life partner," Shalini told Ankita while hugging her tightly.
"Yes. Only stupid people judge another person by their looks. Don’t you worry. Plus you have a great career ahead of you...”
Their words faded as they walked out of the canteen comforting Ankita who walked sandwiched between them. Somewhere, someone smiled.