Sabina kept her sweatshirt on as she made her way to the communal showers. Engaging in intense sports always had a refreshing effect on her. Besides, it was a good way to work off some of the fire that had been in her belly. But as she reached the bathroom, trepidation returned. The thought of stripping in the presence of her hockey team-mates, actually made her nauseous. Her entire body would be subject to scrutiny, even more than her technique on the pitch. That was trying. This would be worse. So much worse. Whilst the coaches, teachers, and occasional scout analysed her moves in order to help and spur her on to improve, the same could not be said for opinionated 14year olds. Their aim would be to tear her down. And she did not completely blame them. She understood why. She had a fair idea of the many reasons why she would never be a social butterfly, popular, liked, invited to parties.
Like the one it was rumoured Katya would be having, soon. Although it was still two months to the date, the hype, most likely begun by Katya herself, was already building. Sabina was not holding her breath for an invite.
Even if she got one, she doubted she would attend. Such snobbery, perceived though it was, would not go down well – of that, she was certain. Yet, there were other things on her mind, especially today. Parties were the very least of her worries. Right now, she needed to see to matters of hygiene. There was no need to encourage any insinuations about her. And there was certainly no reason to give the gossips yet another reason to make her a choice topic of conversation around school. Girls were vicious, and they were getting more awful, younger and younger – or so her mother said.
That was something that puzzled and infuriated Sabina in equal measure. Reading her Bible did not make it any easier to understand. Just about everything seemed beyond her comprehension, out of her reach, unfair. There was no explanation for her parents’ separation. She had no categorical proof for believing that everyone in school knew, apart from the looks she believed she caught them giving her, when they thought she wasn’t looking. When one of the girls in her class asked rather sweetly – saccharine sweet – if Sabina would be spending her summer holidays in Paris this year, she knew they were talking about her and her family. It was so disgraceful. Her banker father and her fashion designer-turned-stay-at-home-mother couldn’t make their marriage work. She wasn’t sure why, but one of the direct results of her father moving out of home, was that her mother, for the first time that Sabina could remember, was anxious about money. And because Sade was apprehensive about money, Sabina was. Not just about money, but about everything.
Church attendance did seem to alleviate Sabina’s worries, albeit temporarily. It wasn’t something that her family generally did, attend church. They went when a friend of either of her parents had a wedding, christening, thanksgiving service, or anniversary. Dressed to the nines, they would attend these events, but had and showed no other church-related commitment or affiliation. However, with the rather recent goings-on in their home, Sabina had heard Sade calling on God during her nightly weeping sessions – those private sessions she had when she thought her children were asleep and couldn’t hear her. There was a church round the corner from their terraced house, and Sabina thought that if someone wanted to get an answer when they called on God, they were better off going into His house. She had lots of questions, but no answers. And she wanted answers. So she started attending church, with her parents and siblings none the wiser. She would feel relatively peaceful during the church service, after which she would slip out quietly. At first that was enough to keep her going for a couple of days. But soon, like an addict frantic for their next fix, Sabina found herself returning to the church whenever she could. Apart from their usual Sunday Service, there was a two-hour Bible Study class every Wednesday evening, and a prayer service every second Friday of the month. So far, Sabina had been to two prayer services. She believed her family was in desperate need of help, supernatural help. She also stopped by some evenings on her way back from school, to sit and reflect in solitude.
Visiting her GP just left her feeling even more angst than she thought herself physically capable of carrying. Amongst the concerns that weighed heavily on Sabina’s shoulders was that she suffered breast asymmetry. Her GP said it was nothing to worry about, that Sabina was still growing. But the latter was not convinced. And the statistics regarding the incidences of the condition, only added to her dismay. In addition to everything else, if she ever suffered the misfortune of being naked in the presence of any females with more normal anatomies, they would see her for the freak of nature she was. It would be brutal, girls could be vicious, and she didn’t think she could handle it. She thought about it again, as she lay in bed that night and read her Bible. She wondered if it was time to actually speak to someone – like a pastor – at the church. They would be able to explain some things to her, should be able to explain some things. There were so many things she wanted to know. Apart from her parents’ impending divorce, she really wanted to know how anyone could reconcile her deformity with the words in Psalm 139:14. If they were true, if she was fearfully and wonderfully made by God, how come she didn’t have something better to work with? What had He been thinking when He made her this way? True, not everyone was destined to have the body of Elle McPherson, but surely it wasn’t asking too much to have a body that didn’t seem to set one apart as a target for bullies?
As she started to drift off to sleep, even with those questions chasing themselves through her mind, her phone vibrated. Eyes heavy with sleep, she managed to look at the screen of the phone to peer at the SMS that had just come in before she went under.
Copyright©Chioma Nnani, 2013