I am the fries I eat

People don’t eat at fashion weeks. Even at the after-parties, their bite-sized fancy hors d’oeuvre and tikkas cannot help them get rid of their hunger and the exhaustion of keeping up appearances and changing outfits three times a day. And you know that you cannot drink, so you stay on an empty stomach. And go back to sleep for two hours till you catch the flight back home. But it is when you enter the city you call home that things make sense enough for you to start eating again. You can travel in public transport and not be judged for wearing pajamas outside. So the moment you get to the bus station and the aroma of frying food hits you, you gravitate towards them. And the next thing you know, you end up at the fresh fries stall where a little boy is making fries.

You buy a big pack and devour it. And you remember why, in the first place, it was fries all along that needed to save you.

*****

Nobody eats the night before the exam. There is too much going on to worry about food. Even the sight of roti makes you want to hurl. You can’t blame yourself, it’s the tension that brings out the worst food instincts in you. So you just keep chugging coffee like it’s a holy drink, and it might be, because it helps you stay awake and study. As a medical student, you know that coffee also suppresses your hunger. That means, lesser distractions. So the morning before the exam, you take a bite of a buttered slice of bread and that’s all you can manage to chew at the moment. Your body doesn’t feel the hunger, it rejects it like Harvard would reject a 2.5 GPA high school student without looking at the application. The exam ends and in half an hour, you have to catch the bus back home from saddar[1]. So when you enter the saddar, once again, you’re hit with the smells of roadside stalls selling so much food that you could go in a food coma and still live to keep eating more. Naturally, you incline towards the fries and you buy a heavy pack.

Fries. Your salvation. Always.

*****

I have always wondered about my inexplicable obsession with fries. All I know is that fries were there for me when people weren’t.

As a young boy, I remember trading my burger with my classmate for his fries. I did the same with everyone. At school, I knew my lunch tasted better but I wanted fries. So I always offered them this deal.

At the gym, I was usually alone, just running on the treadmill now broken because a fat couple ran over it. So I would often cheat. I would go out to the fast food joint and order their fries. They were crispy with a hard shell. Something I wished I could be. Or at least look like. Fries provided me that comfort of knowing I could be whoever I wanted, however I wanted.

Be it saddar, or a five star restaurant, I will always order fries. I feel that fries are a part of my being. Let me explain this to you. I’m a relatively rich kid in a third world country. And fries are equally enjoyed by the lesser rich and the aristocracy, so to speak. I take the public transport in my Calvin Klein jeans to go to a bar where I would order only fries. And on the way back home from saddar, I’d buy more fries, the gooey, slimy ones. Fries thus symbolize my lifestyle for I embody those fried crisped in expensive oil as much as the roadside ones.

The fries you order and where you order them, thus represent so much more than just your choice of food. They show that you’re fine with oscillating between different lifestyles. That you’re the kind of person who can have the best of both worlds and be happy with whatever life throws at them. That you’ll always be yourself, wherever you are, with whomever you are. And that you can be versatile and live through life like a fry.

You are the fries you eat.

And that’s why I eat fries. To be.

 

-Haseeb Sultan

BDS, Final Year

University of Health Sciences, Lahore

 

[1] Saddar Bazaar is usually the main market or bazaar in most of the Cantonments of Pakistan and India.
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