Torn (episode 1)

© Serah Iyare


It was the end of the first semester examination. Funmike wished she could stay back in her off campus hostel, a storey building adjacent to the school gate, divided into ten self-contain apartments.
Her first experience living on campus left a bitter taste in her mouth. She cherished the privacy the off campus hostel offered.
She wheeled the bags towards the gate. The taxi driver opened the boot of the vehicle and hurled the heavy bags in.
If she had a car of her own, things would have been easier. Buses and bikes would be a thing of the past. Her twenty-four year old elder sister who was serving in a Media house in Lagos had a red Toyota Camry. Her twenty year old younger sister got a green Toyota Camry on her birthday.
How her parents completely forgot that she also needed a car was lost to her. At times, it was as if she was invincible.
“I am ready,” the driver beckoned to her.
She got into the back seat of the car and sighed heavily. She wasn’t looking forward to going home.
She woke up feeling terribly farmished. She got out of bed and dragged her drowsy self to the kitchen.
She made oats, buttered toast and a big mug of beverage. While she ate at the dining, her younger sister, Folake, strolled into the sitting room, in a pink sleeveless, a little above the knee satin night gown. Her bosom and curvy h¡ps swirled from side to side with each movement.
Her elder sister, Foluke, followed behind her, taller, darker and curvier, in a see-through white sleeveless very short night gown.
Most times, she wondered why she wasn’t physically endowed like her sisters. They had the body of a goddess and could literally turn the head of a statue with their angelic beauty.
She was very slim and her stature was almost straight. No curves. Deathly flat bosom and backside. She was a little bit pretty and fair skinned. Foluke was dark skinned. Folake was brown skinned. She looked nothing like them. Were they even related?
They both sat opposite her, staring at her food.
She eyed them. She wasn’t ready to part with any piece of her food. The cook resumed work at eight. Breakfast would be ready on or before nine. She bit the crispy toast, meeting their hungry gazes.
When they were younger, they teased her with a nickname. They called her ‘i-with-a-dot’, emphasizing her shapeless physique. She used to hate how she looked. Her father made matters worse when he had her tested, a DNA test! He came to a conclusion that she must have been switched at birth. Of course the result was positive. She was his daughter.
They later discovered that she took after her father’s aunt. She was the only fair skinned person in the family and was also ski-ny.
Conciously and unconciously, they made her feel unwanted and dotted on her sisters, spoiling them rotten. There were days she wished she had been born into another home.
She wished she could be bigger. Maybe if she tried some recipies online, she might add weight. She smiled. ‘Operation I gats to be big’ activated.
Funmike mixed the banana, pawpaw, milk, strawberry, and yoghurt in the blender. She covered it and turned the switch. The noisy sound irritated her ears. She glanced at her phone again. She had followed the instructions on the site. She hoped to add weight as soon as she made the drink a daily rountine. Six glasses a day and she was good to go.
She had tried out other things she found online. Nothing worked. Some of the things she cooked and ate made her to feel nauseous, ruining her appetite for days. There were several recipes and solutions for people trying to lose weight, but, not as much for weight gain.
She was on the verge of giving up. She had called the numbers of the Nutritionists she found on google, but their advice did her no good. If she could only look like her sisters, maybe her parents would also give her their undivided attention.
She switched it off and poured some of the blended mixture into a glass cup. She took a sip. The unfamiliar taste made her grimaced.
She stepped on the white plastic machine, bare-footed, then tilted her head downward, read the scale and frowned. Nothing had changed, she was still 41kg! She was definitely done with all the concortions she googled about.
She couldn’t believe that after experimenting with different grades of junk food, it didn’t reflect on her body weight. Maybe she was cursed. The initial bitterness she used to feel against her stature began to slip into her mind.
She closed her light brown eyes, blocking the depressing thoughts and replacing them with happy ones.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” came the shaky whisper. She swallowed. Her throat felt dry. “I am beautiful beyond description,” a tear rolled down her fair smooth face. “God loves me the way I am, I love myself. Nothing else matters,” she exhaled and opened her eyes, feeling better.
A sense of peace enveloped her. It didn’t matter what she weighed. She was going to have a blast on planet earth. Her pink l-ips spread in a smile.
She dragged her body into the apartment, kicked the door close with her boot, threw her white square shaped Gucci bag on the bed and settled on the two settee. She hung her head on the arm of the leather chair and crossed her legs on the other end.
It was the beginning of the second semester and lectures had begun promptly. Most days, she returned to the hostel deathly tired and hungry enough to eat a wh0le cow. There were times she wished she was back home. The cook would have ensured that she ate at least four times in a day.
She reached out for her iphone and dialed the number of the sales rep of the Sharwama oulet down the street. One big piece with a pack of fruit juice would suffice for dinner.
“Hi, evening, please send me a jumbo size Sharwama, you know the way I like it.”
“Excuse me…”
“Please hurry, Queen Elizabeth Hostel, flat 10.”
“Wrong number.”
She blinked. Was he playing a prank on her? She wasn’t in the mood.
“I am Dantenimu.”
“I am Dantenimu Danjuma. Who am I speaking with?”
She cut the call and stared at the phone. Did she dial the wrong number? She prided herself in the ability to retain people’s numbers. It was hærd to believe that she called someone else.
The phone began to ring. It was an unknown number. She had a feeling that it was the same person. Why was he calling her back? She bit at her lower lip. Should she ignore the call? Curiousity decided for her.
“Hi, it’s Dantenimu, you can call me Dante. What’s the name?”
She raised an eyebrow, “Not necessary.”
“Really? You called me.”
“It was a miss-dial.”
“Thought as much. Were you refering to Sharwama?”
“When you called, jumbo size… Just the way I like it,” he recited her words.
“Oh… Yes, sharwama,” she felt a pang and placed a hand on her tummy.
“Junk food.”
“I don’t have a choice.”
“Everybody do.”
She lifted her body and put down her legs, another pang, “Not when you are mighty hungry.”
He started to laugh.
“I like junk food too.”
“Hmm…” walking down to the outlet seemed like an impossible task.
“But I prefer the likes of pounded yam or semolina with melon soup garnished with bitter leaves and celebrated with catfish or goat meat.”
Her mouth watered, “You are not helping.”
“Oh sorry you are hungry.”
“You should call the Sharwama guy, Austin, right?”
“What’s the name?”
“Nice talking to you.”
“Hmm…” another pang, she rubbed her tummy.
“Are you on Facebook?”
“Who isn’t?”
“You will be surprised.”
“Funmike Williams.”
“Okay. I will send you a request asap.”
“Talk to you later.”
“Bon appetite.”
“Do you speak French?”
“Me neither.”
“Yes bye. Lovely voice.”
“You have a lovely voice.”
She stared at the phone.
“One of the reasons why I called back.”
“Okay bye.”
“Bye,” she heard the dead tone indicating the end of the call.
Dantenimu Danjuma. Her l-ips curved in an inqusitive smile.
She walked towards the school gate, cream and brown M & G hand bag strapped to her shoulder. Straight long legs wrapped in a flowery brown high-wa-ist skirt that swept the dusty road, complimented with an off-shoulder fitted cream blouse. Her braids bounced around her fair face, curled at the tips, giving her a look that turned heads.She felt the vibration of one of her phones in the bag. She slowed her stride and dipped her hand into the bag in search. She brought out the iphone and an excited smile lit her face when she noticed the caller’s name.
“Hi, how are you doing?”
“Why is there no pictures of you on your Facebook profile, Twitter handle and your whatsapp is also bare?”
The smile thinned out.
“What’s your excuse?”
She cleared her throat, eyes focused on the oncoming traffic.
“Who are you hiding from”
“No one.”
“Convince me.”
She crossed the road and walked towards Queen Elizabeth Hostel.
“It’s complicated.”
“I am all ears.”
She waved at the security guard and made her way into the one storey building.
“Amongst my siblings and parents, I am the shortest, slimmest, and the fairest.”
“What’s your statistic?”
“I am five feet seven inches…”
“That’s not short!”
“My father is five nine, my mum is five eight, my elder sister is five nine and my younger sister is five eight.”
“I weigh 41kg and I am almost straight. My siblings call me i-with-a-dot.”
“Wow! That’s cruel.”
“Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, everybody is bigger.”
“What’s your statistic?”
She unlocked the door to the apartment and str-de in, “28’24’30.”
“There are a lot of women in the world who are thin.”
“In Asia for instance.”
She wasn’t convinced.
“I am sending pictures of slim ladies to your other line.”
She settled on the chair and fished for her Blackberry Passport in the bag.
“Send me one of your pictures.”
“Hmm…” her heart missed a beat.
“You have seen my own pictures. It is fair that I see yours too.”
She viewed the pictures he sent. It was hærd to believe that there were several other women who were as thin as she was. Some were unbelievably thinner. She glanced at herself and back at the pictures.
“I am still here.”
“Just got your pictures.”
She trembled with anticipation.
“My new friend is a pretty chick.”
She sighed with relief.
“I encourage you to splash your pictures online.”
“You were right, you don’t look like anyone in your family. It’s cool to be different.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Who did you take after?”
“My dad’s great aunt.”
“Yep,” she leaned against the chair, “I think if I become fatter my parents will dot on me too.”
She heard him sigh. “It’s their duty to give you their undivided attention regardless.”
“After twenty two years, I still feel like a stranger in my own house.”
“I don’t know what to say,” the pain in his voice soothed her aching heart.
“They act like I don’t even exist,” a tear drop slided down her face.

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