Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ had enchanted me when I was young but I renewed my relationship with her after my first born was big enough to listen to tales and since he was an avid reader I rediscovered the entire 'OZ' series. I also discovered that Baum had named ‘OZ’ after a random cataloging section. I also wrote a story of ‘In the land of AdipOZ’ inspired by it.
Mrinalini stepped on her weighing machine and peered forward hopefully. Ah! The needle had moved a little to the left or did it swing back to the right? She shifted her weight to her left foot sometimes the scales would show a reduction of a couple of kilos by such tactics. She would be cheered no end and skip a little more vigorously, convinced that she was making progress. Optimistically skipping away, valiantly counting under her breathe, 420, 21,22,... till at last she reached her target of 500. Mrinalini surveyed her machines ruefully, the standing cycle, the stomach cruncher (which had promised her a flat wash board tummy), stepper, rower - each one bought with such hope and enthusiasm that she would resemble the slim model in leotards with the use of the said machines. But the mirror told a different tale even after months of vigorous workouts. The various diet books and health machines kept piling on in her house. They were a source of much amusement to the friends of her teenaged sons, who all used them whenever they came to meet Ashish and Rishi.
The young are cruel, thought Mrinalini, each of the boys would boast and claim how much faster they could do these machines. They did it with such ease and with no apparent effort. She was puffing and panting by the time she got on her cycle, it required a great mental effort to carry on. She encouraged herself by counting herself amongst those who at least made the effort and therefore were better than those who didn’t. “Mrinalini, Mrinal.....called out Raghav. I am getting late, breakfast is ready.”
“Coming coming”. Mrinalini hurriedly jumped off her cycle and ran down the stairs.
Bahadur, had laid the table quite impressively, there was the usual paranthas, fresh home made butter and pickles for Raghav and for her it was the usual, papayas and thin buttermilk with a dash of salt.
“I just have to look at the stuffed paranthas to begin resembling one,” sighed Mrinalini. “We have to go out tonight” informed Raghav between mouthfuls of parantha. The Khuranas have called us.”
“It means skipping lunch, because one just gorges on their food. Besides they are so hospitable that it looks mean not eating all the delectable dishes,” remarked Mrinalini. Raghav despite his forty odd years looked slim and straight as any twenty year old.
“We are really like Jack Spratt and his wife - she could eat no lean, and he could eat no fat”, added Raghav smiling sensing her thoughts.
“It is the other way around I can eat no fat and you eat no lean,” retorted Mrinalini.
Leafing through the latest magazines Mrinalini gazed enviously at all those trim, well toned bodies in leotards doing various exercises and examined those diets closely, hoping to find a miracle cure. Nothing helped she had begun resembling a misshapen pillow, lumps and rolls of fat oozing out of various places. How hard she tried, living on boiled vegetables, salads and exercising vigorously to no avail. One exercise that she enjoyed was swimming mercifully the new costume with a frill at the belly concealed the bulge quite skillfully. But the costume was really a period piece! In her younger days, Mrinalini recalled her friends from a women’s college down south told her that they had to swim in a costume which covered them up to the knee, how she had laughed at the rigid orthodoxy! Now she was thankful for the same.
Lunch was again a major battle of the will - her growing boys had healthy appetites and she loved to experiment and try out various continental and Chinese dishes. It involved a lot of recipes with butter, cheese and cream apart from other things. While she had to just nibble on her sprouted salad and boiled vegetables.
“I saw Rohan’s mother, she was wearing jeans - ugh!” commented Ashish.
“Well she is slim enough and she doesn’t look bad in it,” remarked Mrinalini.
“I am glad Mamma you are nice and plump and will not do such things” said Ashish a conservative young man. He held very strong views on what to wear , how to behave, when to laugh, etc.
“Well I am glad you find my obesity becoming, but I am truly happy that our culture allows for clothes that conceal, more than reveal”.
Rishi put his arms around her and hugged her, “Ah! my cuddly teddy I wouldn’t want you to change ever.”
Well, he was her baby, though grown and strapping at thirteen, he had never known her anyway otherwise. It was with Rishi’s arrival that the battle of the bulge became really serious and Mrinalini often felt dispirited and defeated.
The house was unusually quiet, the boys had gone for their evening games and it would be sometime before Raghav would be back. Mrinalini took up the new slimming book that had arrived - she was fascinated by the before and after ads. Those bloated huge creatures became such slim men and women after following the book! Mrinalini felt tired and hungry, she had deprived herself for years and years, no sugar no fats. A slim trim body indicated a control over your mind and life, therefore the reverse also held true! She had given up on all the samosas, pakoras and ice-creams - she would show the world that she was made of stern stuff. But as of now, she was feeling rather weak and the thought of a hearty meal made up of chhole bhature, chaat-paapri topped with a banana split left her weak in the knees.
She looked up the sky had turned dark with black cloud. God we are in for a pouring rain she thought. The sky was split by a brilliant flash of lightening and it was followed by growling thunder. The storm dashed the new slimming book straight at Mrinalini’s forehead; it was in a savage mood and to hell with such books.
“What, what... where...”gasped Mrinalini as she was whirled and tossed around in the mad whirlwind.
Things appeared quiet the sky had cleared and was a bright sunshiny blue when Mrinalini opened her eyes.
“Ah! She’s o.k.” remarked a pleasant fat woman.
“Where, where am I?” asked Mrinalini as she sat up. She observed that she was surrounded by only fat people of all sizes and shape.
“You are in the Land of Adipoz” answered an old gentleman helpfully.
“We are the Crunchikins , said a young girl, because we crunch - munch all the time”, taking a bite off an apple.
“You must be hungry dear ,” remarked another Crunchikin setting a table loaded with food. For Mrinalini all anxiety was swept away at the sight of aromatic buns dripping with butter and topped with cheese! There were burgers, crisp patties, fish fingers, potato chips and ice-creams. She sighed with contentment as she licked the last of the ice-cream off her bowl.
She lived in utter contentment; her days began and ended with food. The weather was perfect , she went for long walks in the jungle which was laden with all the fruit trees she knew and she kept discovering new ones , which tasted even better, like the one which looked like an unripe papaya but on cutting it open tasted like some tangy toffee. She had a lovely cottage facing the river and friends amongst the Crunchikins who were only too ready to exchange recipes, and experiment endlessly on food. There were many interesting picnics and parties but slowly, Mrinalini’s senses were satiated and gradually she began missing her home, sons and husband.
“How do I get back?” she asked for the millionth time.
Only to get the reply _ “Go to the Jadugar of Adipoz.”
So one fine morning Mrinalini set off armed to the teeth with various assortments of sweets. She was informed that the Jadugar had a partiality for all things sweet. The palace of the Jadugar was like some monumental multi-tiered cake! She gathered her courage and asked for the Jadugar. Only to be met by an imposing Aid - de-Camp. He was as broad as he was tall and he just would not let her through! He was a stickler for rules she wouldn’t be permitted without a prior appointment.
Finally, Mrinalini revealed her Rasgullas she had made and he relented. Depositing a big ‘haandi’ of rasgullas she strode in to meet the Jadugar. There he sat on an immense throne and she couldn’t believe her eyes, he was a perfect look- alike of Shammi Kapoor!
He was busy demolishing the remnants of a cake which looked like black forest. Mrinalini displayed her offerings to the Jadugar. She had carried Kaju Katlis, Pistarolls, Badam-ka- laddoo ,Sandesh, Gajar- ka - Halwa, Mawe-ki-Kachori ,Kulfis and every variety of sweets that she could think of. The Jadugar made quick work of it all and gave a loud burp of satisfaction.
“Haan... so what do you want?”
“I want to go home, back to Jaipur.”
“That will not be possible unless you kill the ‘wicked witch of the Feast’” he said in a loud and booning voice.
“But why should I kill her or anybody for that matter?” enquired Mrinalini.
“Well, how can you expect me to do anything for you, without any reciprocity?” he said rather grumpily.
“O.k. what has she done?”
“She does all things a wicked witch does, besides what is galling is that she appears extremely thin and starved despite the facts that she gorges on chocolate chip ice-creams, mounds of potato-chips, cakes and what have-yous and to top it all she mocks at the people of Adipoz for being fat.... fat!” he exclaimed in wonder.
“Fix a meeting with her let’s see what I can do about it.”
A few days later Mrinalini accompanied by her friends of Adipoz, huffed and puffed her way to the wicked witch’s fort. The witch had invited her to lunch in which she had to bring her contributory share. Mrinalini had looked at her burgeoning size and had begun despairing - now that she would be back home soon. She had returned to her diet of sprouts, papayas, lassi, boiled egg without the yolk and for sweet dish there was a slice of water melon. Lunch was already laid out and after the preliminary meeting.
The witch raised an eyebrow at the sight of the people of Adipoz as soup was served . It was a thick creamy affair - Mrinalini shuddered at the sight of it, while her Crunchikin friends happily helped themselves to it.
“Ha, Ha,.... so you will only drink some boiled , hot water dear Mrinalini, cackled the witch. No matter how hard you try, you will never ever grow thin. Take a good look at your friends, my dear they all look like fatted cows.”
They did appear bovine, thought Mrinalini - but she let it pass and concentrated on her clear vegetable soup. The barbs continued, till it became openly insulting.
“Just look at them, with such porcine expressions, delving into their plates”, commented the witch in a shrill voice.
That was the last straw, in a fit of humiliation and anger, Mrinalini flung her bowl of soup at the witch.
“Yeh...... ye .....” shrieked the witch as she melted and disappeared before her eyes! “Mrinalini - ki - jai” shouted her friends in triumph as they waddled towards the Jadugar of Adipoz to inform him of the death of the wicked witch of the Feast.
There was much rejoicing in the land and Mrinalini was hailed as the Rani of Adipoz.
“I want to go home” shouted Mrinalini over the din.
“Mamma, you are at home”, said Ashish. “We came back and found you unconscious we were so worried about you.”
Rishi cuddled next to her, “Don’t go on a diet Mamma, this is what happens.”
Raghav said, “You must take care Mrinal, the doctor said the fainting fits are caused by such strict diet control.”
“Well should I start Land of Adipoz here?” thought Mrinal as she closed her tired weary eyes.
written by Chandra Ghosh Jain,© Jaipur
1.parantha…. shallow fried savoury
2.samosa… deep fried
4.kaju katli… sweet cashewnut
5. Badam-ka- laddoo ,Sandesh, Gajar- ka - Halwa, Mawe-ki-Kachori ,Kulfis… various types of sweets
This is a bit of trivia-there is a restaurant in The Claridges Delhi named the ‘The Yellow brick road’ which serves continental food.
Causes Chandra Jain Supports