You are what you eat

Samarjit Kambam *

Everyone wants have a dashing appearance. The fat ones want to look slimmer, the thin ones want to get thicker, the shorter ones want to get taller, the uglier ones want to look handsome or beautiful viz a viz (So far I haven't come across any tall ones who want to get shorter). This yearning for better appearance is human nature, an instinct embedded deep inside our genes since birth.

While studying in high school we were taught a lot about a balanced and healthy diet. But only a miniscule percentage of the people actually carries on with this balanced and healthy diet trend. And as we grow older, most of us get carried away towards the opposite direction with our diets becoming unbalanced and unhealthy.

As every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the ones who hold on with a balanced and healthy diet becomes healthy, possess good appearance with a glowing skin alongwith a pleasing personality and the ones where unbalanced and unhealthy diets become a part and parcel of their lives look either too thin or too fat, with a face either too gaunt or too fat having six packs on their chins instead of having them at their belly with pale, dark or tar-ish complexion.

Now-a-days, junk food adds more to the dilemma. Most of today's kids are fat or obese because of eating too much junk food. My son is also one among them. The media is filled with words of caution such as "Junk food has no nutrition", "Junk food is bad for the physical and mental health of growing up kids", but the number of junk food in the form of packaged products is increasing day by day just like the way Ministry of Information and Broadcasting gives orders to the media to give information to the public such as "Non of the actors in this movie promotes drinking and smoking.

Drinking is injurious to health. Smoking causes cancer. Smoking kills" which you always see on the screen of your cable TV before you watch a movie. Another ironical thing is that eighty percentage of portion of a cigarette pack is imprinted with ghastly cancer ridden pictures of oral cavity parts on both sides as per government of India norms but cigarettes sell by the packets in every nook and corner of the country.

So is the case with liquors, dry state or not doesn't make any difference. What about banning junk food, cigarettes and liquor completely? Well, fat taxes pour inside the government of India's coffer from such products. What a makeshift world we are living in.

Tobacco products in the form of Paan are taken in almost all parts of India and Manipur is no exception. In our society, the number of women who consumes paan far exceeds the number of men. So far, as I have observed, almost every locality in Manipur and more particularly in the valley areas have small associations of paan chewing women.

Some of them starts chewing paan early in the morning as soon as they climb down from bed before brushing their teeth. Some consume paan as breakfast. I have come across many women who consume ten or more instantly hand-made paan packs a day. Some of the hardcore ones store all the ingredients required to make paan at their own homes so that they can consume it any time at their fancy.

At night time, after dinner, those small groups of women would be seen hustled together at the nearest paan dukan waiting for their turn of paan. Many of them would say that they can't sleep without taking paan before going to bed. With years of consuming paan, their facial structure changes with their necks getting narrower, their jaws getting broader and their complexion getting dimmer with the skin of their faces developing spots like that of the moon.

Once upon a time, in my very house, the big she-creature, I mean my wife was a regular consumer of paan with plenty of tobacco ('zarda black' as she used to call), huge quantity of white lime enough to paint one side of the wall of a room and the frequency of consumption escalated upto eight to ten times a day.

As days become months and months become years, her once flawless facial skin complexion got filled with blemishes and dark spots and her face looked like a highway filled with lots of potholes and cracks. She would spend a fortune in buying cosmetics to get rid of those spots. Not satisfied with one set of products, she would go for other sets of products.

She even went upto the extent of procuring a set of Moreh products made in "God knows where". The set consists of about six products from paste to powder to gel and everything was written in scripts which may be Chinese, Burmese, Vietnamese or Thai. Heaven knows what's being imprinted.

Sometimes I wondered to myself thinking whether the imprinted scripts could have meant "Use it everyday, spoil your face, look like a zombie and kill yourself". After using varieties of products of different kinds and hues, the blemishes on her face got thicker and wider instead of having a clean and glowing skin.

I told her many a times that it's the inner parts of the body that matter most especially stomach and liver, for a healthy stomach and liver will definitely give a shining complexion and a healthy looking glowing skin. Am not a person of the medical profession but experience is the best teacher and as I have accrued myself years I have found out that there is no better teacher than experience.

With constant efforts from my side and with great pain and hardships from her side, I let her get rid of the habit of chewing paan. Now-a-days, without applying any cosmetics or medicinal cosmetics be it Indian, Chinese, Burmese, Taiwanese whatsoever, her dark spots gradually disappeared and now her skin has become blemish free once again.

A slight glow has even begun to radiate from her face. Now that its winter she's using a mixture of only rose water and glycerine as per my advice. The unfinished facial products have now become the plaything of our lazy cat.

Once upon a time I also had a blemish free, smooth facial skin with glowing complexion. However, use of unbalanced and unhealthy diets for prolonged periods and lack of physical activity led my facial skin to look like muddy water with dark spots and blemishes all around my face.

Now-a-days, whenever I stand in front of a mirror, my image doesn't look like me anymore making me hard to absorb that the reflection on the mirror is mine. My physical stature and appearance seems like I was kept in solitary for days on end. In fact, I look like a highly experimented human guinea pig or a walking pathological museum.

Old habits die hard and its so true. Now I have to reverse the gear of eating unhealthy foods for I very much want to see the real 'Me' as and when I stand in front of a mirror.

* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on January 02, 2017.

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