To the Sister Debbies That I Knew
No sooner had we alighted from the godforsaken keke napep—my mother raining curses on its rider for insisting on keeping the change he swore not to have—than when I see her. Unlike me who silently curses the muddy pools that marred my aging suede flats, her feet is sealed in powerful heels. The kind that my mother’s salary five times in a year could not still purchase.
I know Sister Debbie. She isn’t the enemy, even though my mind is preconceived to believe she sits as the archenemy of my existence. Sister Debbie at this time, is about my age, probably a month younger. I still don’t know why I affix the ‘Sister’ to her name: maybe it’s because there’s no other way to call her name. From time immemorial, even mummies in church had always called her Sister Debbie.
She wears a smile that says, “Welcome to church but don’t talk to me.” A rather stiff yet confident smile plastered on her lush face. I am not planning on doing that anyway but the curt look stings deeper with each passing week. I tell myself that it’s just church. Five hours of listening to solemn songs and Debbie’s father preach about the Lord. But not without my eyes dilating constantly to where she sits, scrutinizing and analyzing every move she made. Or didn’t make.
Oh. Why didn’t she clap after that man’s testimony? Does she consider it too lowly to be what the Lord did? Anyway, I don’t expect her to understand what it means to be hungry for two days. No, she’s never known that type of pain.
The choir soon miss a beat in their ministration such that everyone can tell. But she, isn’t that a smirk on her face? Unimpressed, it states.
The other children our age are crazy about her. I can almost touch the craziness with my bare hands. It resounds in the regular song choices, places in the world, A-list stars that were regularly discussed in Sunday school and largely revolved around Sister Debbie’s likes and validations. Someone would go, “Sister Debbie, what do you think about…?” or “Sister Debbie, have you seen the latest… remember you talked about…?”
And then I’ll go, ‘”Here we go again.”
Her shoes, wardrobe that seems to have a list of endless clothes that I stopped counting. Maybe, she got a new outfit every week. In a year, she would have about 52 new dresses!
How would I make you understand my spite without creating wrong impressions, make you feel it till you can taste it on your tongue? Sister Debbie is not a bad person but she can make you feel very bad. She may not be hard but her looks aren’t aimed at convincing you the opposite either. The need for her acceptance could cause you to suffocate prematurely. Like slow unintended poison and before you open your eyes, you’re drawn in, weakened and ready to be slaughtered.
I’m weakened too. But I’m not ready to be slaughtered. I don’t want to be. I’ve watched the other children in church walk this path and it’s pointless, headed to early destruction with no one to pin the death on but yourself. The last time I checked, when one of the girls tried to prove that she could be in league with Sister Debbie, she dabbled into motherhood. What’s worse? Sister Debbie’s eyes often cringe in disdain whenever she sees her friend and the baby.
Maybe jealously has erected a million dollar duplex inside of me and settled comfortably but I am prepared to crumble all those walls. For all it’s worth, Sister Debbie is basically a victim of circumstance; just as I and the other children are, only in a privileged kind of way. She fell into the best home, rich pastor parents, comfortable school, adoring congregation and massive child support.
I watch Sister Debbie shake hands with some well-known families in the church after service ends. My English teacher would call these people the creme-de-la-creme of society. When I walk past, I hear the mutterings of words like Suffolk, Law School and what-nots … and then laughter confirming these words. I will not spy nor try to gather stupid secrets of Sister Debbie for the handbook I will never write. I will keep out of her business and help my mother in her fish pond business.
I reassure myself as we flag down another keke. You’ve got few choices but it’s different from having none at all. Making and implementing positive decisions will most unlikely end up in failure.
And who knows? Maybe one day, I will birth a Sister Debbie: that feminine force that everyone would want to reckon with.