Farewell, Sabina

Sabina is seventy-three years old. Sabina was graceful and beautiful.

Sabina never entered into marriage, nor did Sabina leave any descendants, yet many followers carry on her name.

Sabina lived her entire life at sea.

Sabina's fate is closely linked to that of our family. When my grandfather lost his right leg to scurvy in battle, Sabina lost a propeller on her side. Sabina was hit by a mortar and my grandfather said he saw the shrapnel shattering like a meteor streaking past, clipping the head of the man next to him. When it all came to an end, my grandfather took a heroic leap from Sabina's arms, and despite the fact that he was covered in blood and reeked badly, my grandmother continued to love him at first sight.

Every summer of my childhood, my grandfather and grandmother took me to visit Sabina. Sabina was retired and was the most hospitable hostess in the world, yet she had to do her business. No matter what class her visitors came from, poor or rich, she asked for a hundred G for admission.

In Sabina's parlour, she tells me about her last battle. "It's all a conspiracy!" She said indignantly. To the sound of fierce percussion, I nodded my head in agreement. Even though I was born decades after Sabina charged into battle with my grandfather, I knew that Sabina's words would always be true. i just knew it.

Today, Sabina is undergoing demolition. They say it is a cosmetic procedure that will effectively remove the rust spots from Sabina's body, yet why the wasted effort? No amount of rust spots would detract from Sabina's beauty. My great-grandmother was one of the 5,000 shipyard women who assembled Sabina's body. According to my grandmother, she had to rush home after her evening shift to prepare the day's food, often too late to bathe. Her apron was stained with blackened engine oil that she had accidentally rubbed on. From my grandmother's generation onwards, we ate our meals with a distinctive chemical smell of plastic and saltpeter, the perfume of Madame Sabina. My great-grandfather was a shipyard security guard, my father was a shipyard apprentice and my mother worked as a cook in the shipyard staff canteen. My siblings and I sat around and shared the leftovers, which were all Sabina's gift. In a way, Sabina nursed us with another form of breast milk.

Oh, Sabina, Sabina.

For 50 years after Sabina retired, she docked at Victory Harbour. Everyone in this city knew her. When I was in the classroom working on my exercises, I could look out of the window and see Sabina's towering rangefinder and radar. The pieces were built up like blocks, and no matter how long or how far apart they were, she always looked amazing. The command tower, the fire control, the parlour and the bridge are now empty, with only rats running back and forth. The shipyard workers and their descendants, we, are the ones who built the Tower of Babel.

Sabina became a monument, and she stood with her torch for decades. Until a once-in-a-century typhoon made landfall in the city, shortening Sabina's mast into two sections and destroying several dock containers. The city council held an emergency meeting and eventually they unanimously decided that it was time to say goodbye to Sabina.

After the incident, I went to visit my dad's friend, the old sailor. He had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife yesterday. He had known Sabina longer than he had known his wife, he said. He told me what had happened to Sabina that day.

Sabina had been mutilated. They took down her mast and abandoned her engine in the harbour. Her engine was as huge as a sperm whale's lung, yet it had long since become blackened. Sabina could not smoke and her lungs were blackened with engine oil.

I returned home to even worse news: the shipyard would be making mass redundancies and might even face closure. They also no longer needed the people who built the tower as it no longer existed. As Sabina was sentenced to death, we were thus exiled.

I put my face close to the glass of the display case and recalled my childhood lying on the tracks, estimating when the next train would stop by. Whenever a train was coming, the little stones along the tracks pulsed with joy, like my pounding heart. The local official publication said that a recall for Sabina will be launched in the next few days. It is said that some chicken farms also have chicken feed lines, where they throw the unproductive cockerels under a guillotine and grind them into powder before feeding them to their own kind. Sabina shouldn't have ended up like this.

My face was pressed against the glass, which cast a shadow of Sabina - the last part of Sabina. I heard a whimpering cry, like it was coming from a conch, growing stronger or weaker as I breathed.

Sabrina! I couldn't help but call out. I think I still need her.

The last time Sabina was in the public eye was with me, in a small exhibition hall on the outskirts of the city. There wasn't even any alarm device there, just a security guard dozing in a chair. I easily brought Sabrina out, now thin and hard, just a slab of iron.

I hid a dinghy off the coast that I had converted myself. In the shimmering sea Sabina set sail again.

I saw the moon glowing with a green luminescence, like the eyes of a wild wolf in the darkness. It reminded me of my sister, the only one in our family who didn't work in the shipyard - she worked in a watch factory plating dials with radium, so she didn't lose her job.

The radium girls, who decorated their teeth with radium and painted their nails with it. The beautiful shinning green moon,It was as if my sister was smiling in the dark.

I sang a song.

"Sabina is setting sail this night, and my beloved girl's name is also Sabina. Sabina, I am your sailor. I’ll sail on Sabina tonight, and I will have to say goodbye to my beloved Sabina. Farewell, farewell, Sabina."

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