** Semantics Course, MA 1st semester; Class on Ambiguity**
Example sentence: The lady climbed on the table with thick legs.
I laughed silently. In the sentence, the lady with thick legs appealed to me rather than the table with thick legs.
Taking after my father’s thick paunchy legs, my precious legs and calves are the most ridiculed body part since high school. I don’t know why I didn’t take after my Mom’s slender legs; my brothers did!! And I, the only sister, am stuck with legs that only an athlete or a ballerina would possess… of which I am neither! So I grew up with my precious legs. High school was difficult; partly because the uniforms were knee length skirts, as I grew more conscious of my paunchy calves and partly because my best friend, whom I go to school every day with, has the legs of a supermodel. The two of us would walk uphill everyday to school with young boys behind us making fun of our calves… my calves in particular. Before long, I got used to the chawnsek chawnsek chant of the boys in my locality who always find the time to tease me on my way back from school. That was probably why I started wearing ankle length skirts to church since 8th grade, and soon switched over to puan way before my peers did!
Uniform regulations in school saved me. Skirt lengths should go below knee. O Happy day!! In fact I went overboard lengthening my skirt till it covered the stripes of my uniform socks… That way, my paunchy calves have more places to hide and I was never in trouble for violating uniform rules! Thank God uniform in secondary school was a salwar suit.
I remembered once during Secondary school when I needed to submit the Original Scheduled Tribe certificate for verification. I called up my dad and asked him to mail me my original certificates. He laughed. I remembered his exact words. I chawn hmuh la, Tribal I nih chu an hre mai ang. Verification awlsam ber ani mai alawm. (Show them your calves and they would know you are a tribal. It’s the easiest form of verification.) Fuming, I hung up the phone.
That was my dad, at least, and he did that to pull my leg. But one incident I could never forget was with a guy visiting from my father’s village. One morning, I was making tea before school and this guy was with me in the kitchen. I was just up from bed and was still in my shorts. And this mikhual of a guy exclaimed “ You have the legs of Roberto Carlos!!”. I never served him tea that morning.
But from that morning, deep inside me grew a feeling that I will never have the legs that would escape people’s notice. First of all, I blamed my father. Yes!! Blame it on the genes. And then I blamed my mother for letting me go ‘in rubber miss’ when I was a kid. Well, I didn’t really know if skipping, hopping and jumping with rubber band works up the claves. But it helps when you have someone to blame for that self-loathing feeling.
That was years ago. Today, if you see me walking around campus with a knee length skirt, don’t be surprised. I have finally learnt to love myself and get comfortable with my short ‘unslender’ legs. When people joke about my legs and calves, I can finally laugh with them and pull my leg further, enjoying the joke all the while. The strength lies in being comfortable in one’s own self. And by being comfortable with my legs, it doesn’t mean I run around wearing a micro mini, but it’s that feeling of being contented with yourself and loving the body you’re living in. Well, if I can’t love myself, who else would? Mimi, my partner in the short ‘unslender’ legs society, once said, “People notice only when you’re uncomfortable and fidgety”. She couldn’t be more right.
The other day, I met an old friend who, without hesitation pointed at my legs and laughed. ‘God, your calves still have tummies of their own’. I laughed with him ‘I’m glad they don’t have minds of their own any longer’. Well, I’ve finally learnt how to be contented with my short thick legs. There are people out there who survive everyday without one. I should be counting my blessings instead of being ashamed of it. And in fact, lately, I’ve realized that my ridiculed short thick legs are really not that bad after all. If I have slender model-like legs, then I would look like a potato on toothpicks!!!! And it all comes down in the end; I wouldn’t mind having the perfect legs that one could dream of, but I sure wouldn’t kill to have one either!!