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Sister sister by Uche Umeukeje

 I think of her every day, pink toes, bright eyes, white little teeth and skin softer than pancake batter. Everyone who had caught a glimpse of what my sister looked like seemed to love her even before they met her. She was born in time; just when the bent backs were beginning to break out in sweat and the trees started to bear fresh fruits. My parents had called her a charm, a blessing, a child greater than wealth.
We were born of the same water and blood, but we were not the same, just as every other sibling in the world, we had our differences. And as always genes were the bullets that loaded our gun but the environment we met had pulled the trigger on us.
I was born in the time when food for a day was a week’s job on the streets, and extra money and sweets were like scolding myself. I hadn’t known about three square meals or proper table manners, one was too concerned about lack to bother about those. I hadn’t learnt the importance of looking good even when I didn’t feel good. In fact what I really had learnt was the sword of survival and the catastrophe called hardship.
She was born at the right time, read the future in her unformed state and prepared to meet us when there was plenty and she did. Studding out like the princess she was, they showered her with love and pampered her as an egg, and it was in her I first saw a set of parent different from mine. There was always something about good and bad times that made people change along with it. She had toys, colorful ones stimulating creativity, she spilled rich milk on her clothing and I couldn’t help but cuddle her softly, reminded of the times I had never been there.
Then time flew and we grew, five years apart in age and living in different ideas of the world but always brought together in comparison.
Father would ask why you are not like her and mother would say no two children are the same, then I would bite my tongue from not saying she was born with a silver spoon and I was still learning how to use one.
Her feet were same size as mine, her body curvy and feminine, lovely and beyond admiration, she was a shadow of perfection to me, what I could have been like if the hands of times were changed.
 Her absence was like her presence and every smile of hers evoked a train of thoughts, I was beguiled by thinking she was my problem, a personified measure of my achievements in life.
On an early Sunday morning, before the sun appeared, she had touched my head waking me from my deep sleep, she had said some words about being sorry for being there, sorry about making me feel incompetent, and in my pride I comforted and assured her, that there was nothing of that sort and it was all a figment of her imagination. She wept, I wept, and we both slept back and woke up at daylight.
That day I had seen her in a different light, her laughter piercing the brightest sunray was genuine and held no guile, we talked about our parents and their unfairness, crossed hands never to treat our children the same way, we spoke about boys, boys we liked and those that liked us, we held hands, we shared our hearts, we became sisters.
On the evening of the day which I would never forget, which would forever be in my heart, ticked on every calendar I would ever own, a day no one foresaw but was to come, on a day like that did I realize the foolishness in not loving.
Her hands spread apart in front of me, her words, the words I now know by heart, and the words I should have said in place of her. She had not only come forth in time of wealth but in time of danger as well, the blessing she was, was not in material things but immaterial. As always I reminiscence on her last words, just before the cold bullet went through her heart, before my heart melted in anguish and before the cold death came of a truth she spoke “You have to get through me, before you get to my sister.”
She died without care like she didn’t matter even to herself and I know years later I would still be compared to her, expected to fill the void she had left but I would do so without thought, for I now know a sisters love has never known to be less than any, playmates and teammates but sisters first of all.
photocred: Africa | Dakar, Senegal | © Bruno Barbey | Adorned | Africa |