He walked past the board every morning. It was on the way to work, standing in all its freshly-painted, large-visual glory. He would stare at it through the corner of his eye, as his car halted at the traffic light, and then proceed to indulge in a breakfast of vegetable patties in the cafeteria. The food-vendor ensured he made them with extra oil and potato, just as he liked them best.
It had been several years since he had joined his current company as a software engineer. He wasn’t keen on jumping onto the management bandwagon; the truck seemed way too full anyway. Coding still enthralled him and he beamed when he solved even seemingly mundane problems in innovative ways. Back at home, his parents would sigh. How do you manage to sit at your desk job every day and not grow plump? He would laugh about his amazing metabolism. The truth – his ever growing err, tyres, and slightly protruding belly – remained hidden under well fitted clothing.
“I think I will skip the gulab jamun, tempting though it looks.” His brother-in-law made a rather sorrowful face as he pushed the tray aside.
He had always been a funny man – too uptight with his dietary regulations. “Really, calling you to meals is pretty useless.” He sighed, picking up the rejected gulab jamun happily.
“Diabetes, no less. Add to that a serious cholesterol problem. I cannot afford to play around with these credentials.”
His wife nodded furiously, glaring at him. “It wouldn’t do you harm to adopt that kind of policy. Anyway,” she shook her head, “you don’t get any exercise.”
Really, when the two got together, he almost felt as if he was back in school.
Come to think of it, he used to live a ‘healthier’ life. Every evening after school, he would rush to the cricket ground. The green grass would get tremendous thrashing until one day they disallowed playing in the park. In college days, he had even joined a gym. But those muscles never shaped and his enthusiasm waned after a fortnight. But it was primarily after starting work that exercise was erased from his schedule. Packed hours and insane deadlines, after all, don’t go well with fancy buzzwords such as work-life balance.
These days he had heard, there was a solution for every ailment. Even for the dreary cancers and tumours which had destroyed several households over the ages. Modern healthcare brought to people cure and care, and packaged with insurance and sensible savings, in a manner affordable for the masses. Amidst such advancement, the problems his sedentary life posed seemed too trivial to acknowledge.
The brother-in-law was ill. He lay prostrate in a hospital ward, a tiny potted-plant lying beside him on the mantlepiece.
“A sudden cardiac arrest,” his wife sobbed, “while he was peacefully watching television.”
“How is he now?” he asked hesitantly, unwilling to look her in the eye. If the brother-in-law with his school-boyish dietary regime and impossible restrictions could fall prey to trouble, he was a prey asking to be hunted. He saw his wife continue to sob and put a comforting arm around her shoulder. The nurses were busy, so were the hands of the large clock on the wall. Much of the world continued to swipe in and out of offices, cognizant of only the evening and the weekend to come. He, however, was on leave today.
The next morning, his car stopped by the board again. The road was abuzz with rush-hour traffic, cars honking away to glory. He took out his appointment diary and a pen from the bag.
“Billion Hearts Beating” he wrote. This morning, instead of using the quiet morning hour to delve into an oily breakfast, he would call for an Apollo Health Check Up.
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