Her eyes darted across the familiar room, worry creating deep lines on her delicate face.
Saba tip-toed to the door, carefully and closed it behind her as gently as she could.
Sitting on the bus, on the way to school, she closed her eyes, letting silent tears fall.
If only she hadn’t snuck out her bedroom window over six months ago.
Life would be normal now.
“I’ll be there in fifteen!” I whispered hurriedly into the phone.
Breaking my Piggy Bank open, I pushed some cash down my jeans pocket and opened the window.
Climbing out of it, I grabbed hold of a tree’s branch and eased myself gently to the floor.
I looked around, making sure that I didn’t wake my family up and ran out.
The bus stopped with a jerk.
Saba got off and began her shameful walk to the classroom, wondering if people were judging her.
She’d gotten used to it by now but a small part of her wished that this wasn’t happening to her.
Her hand spread over her expanding belly, she entered her classroom and sat with a sigh.
Smiling at the person sitting next to her and getting a scowl in return, Saba concentrated on her books, her tears blurring her vision every now and then.
Everybody judged her.
They called her names and wrote mean stuff about her on her locker.
People she used to call ‘friends’ didn’t care to look at her anymore.
Saba realized, in an odd moment, that she was hardly fitting in her chair. In another month, she’d have to request for a chair with a detachable bench.
“Mom?” I said, gulping. “Dad?”
The fear in my voice must have been evident.
Because they both stopped doing whatever it was that they were doing and rushed to my side.
“I don’t know how to tell you this…” I started. “And I don’t know if you’ll ever forgive me, but…”
“You’re pregnant, aren’t you?” My dad asked.
Mom seemed horrified by the suggestion and was about to deny it when she saw the look on my face.
I hung my head in shame, terrified.
The drama started when my mom burst into tears and ran away from the room.
I broke down when my father fell back on the sofa, speechless.
So much for my big declaration.
It took them a week to get over it.
No matter how many times they asked me who the father was, I never told them.
They still don’t know.
Saba hated lunch time more than anything else on the planet.
She recalled how, just a few months ago, she sat at one of the longest tables, friends surrounding her. Now, she sat behind the dumpster, eating through her tears.
Everyone acted like her pregnancy was contagious.
They called her names that would depress even the most hard hearted girl.
But Saba had made up her mind to keep the baby.
She swore to herself that she’d never let the father meet her child.
That baby would be hers and hers alone.
As she ate silently, she wondered how much easier life would be if the people she loved and cared about would support her.
Her precious child would have a lot of loving godmothers.
Rubbing her belly, she threw her plate full of food into the bin and walked back into class, alone.
“How are you feeling?” Her father asked, as she stepped into the house. “Look who’s come to visit us”
Saba looked up to see her Uncle Joe sitting on their couch, beaming from ear to ear.
While her heart pounded in her chest, she struggled to maintain composure.
“Hello” She smiled, as politely as she could and almost ran up to her room.
Memories of that horrid night that she snuck away crept into her mind.
“Saba? Is that you?”
I looked up, my vision not very proper but clear enough to know it was my Uncle Joe.
It was two in the morning and I was walking home from a very wild party.
“Come over to my place” He said, smiling. “Your aunt’s not home but I can make you a nice cup of chocolate milk”
I smiled, glad for that offer of a non-alcoholic drink.
We went up to his house, his arm around me.
Saba gasped for air.
Everyone thought she’d been sleeping around.
But her baby was not made out of carelessness. It was made by force.
She remembered her Uncle’s threatening words that night.
“What happened behind closed doors stays behind closed doors. Besides, Saba dear, it takes two.”
That maniacal laughter.
Shuddering, Saba washed her face and took deep breaths.
She wasn’t going to let all this affect her.
Taking the steps one at a time, Saba recalled the days she’d jump down these very same steps a few months ago. She wouldn’t be able to do that now. Controlling the urge to try, she waddled over to her parents and sat as they made pleasant conversation with the man she hated with all her strength.
From time to time, Uncle Joe’s eyes rested on her.
Finally, as he got up to leave, he said to Saba, “So, the father must be really happy”
“It wouldn’t matter, Uncle Joe” She replied, venom in her eyes. “I’ll kill him if he comes anywhere near my baby”
He seemed to have gotten the message, because without saying another word, he left.
Sinking into the bed that night, Saba let the tiredness overcome her fighting soul.
Life was never going to be the same for her again.
She sighed, taking in that fact.
Normalcy had evaded her the night she had taken that stupid decision to go partying behind her parents’ backs.
As regret consumed her soul, Saba fell asleep.
* * *
Beautiful, blue eyes stared back at Gloria lovingly.
A tear streaming down her cheek, she hugged her new born daughter to her.
“My darling” She said, laughing at the playful gurgling. “I’m going to love you more than any mother has loved her child. I promise.”
That thought brought her own mother to her mind and how she had singlehandedly managed to make her feel loved and cared for. Of course, Gloria, to date, didn’t know who her father was and she didn’t mind that her mother passed away before telling her. Because, she had more love showered on her than she could have ever hoped for.
At a distance, she saw Paul, her fiancé, approach her with roses clutched in his sweaty hands, his face contorted with worry.
As the pink faced baby began to doze off, unaware of the world’s cruelty, Gloria glanced at the beautiful photo of Saba that stood on the hospital’s wooden table.
“Rest in peace, mom” She said, tears glistening in her eyes. “I love you”