Sister, Sister

By Kanyinsola Adewolu

July 2023

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

Thumbnail illustration by Carole Maillard

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if you weren’t in it. 

I like to imagine it some days. I liked to think my life would be peaceful, quiet, or any other adjective I could use to describe how good my life would be if you weren’t in it.

Maybe I wouldn’t be so lazy. Maybe I’d be more loving. Maybe I’d know how to handle confrontation better. Maybe, just maybe, I’d live a happier life. I know this sounds ironic as hell. How would you know how to deal with people crossing boundaries if you grew up alone? But I don’t know; that’s how I feel.

You’re just a year younger than I am, but you always looked older. I don’t remember much about our relationship when we were kids. I know we fought a lot, but I also know we were kind of close. I believe it was because we were both loners, which forced us to be friends. We also looked quite alike, so that was another factor. It was just the two of us, and now I can’t help but think back on how time really changed us.

I never really recognized the favour that mom and dad showed you until you were celebrating your 10th birthday. I can’t ever forget that day. Derin was doing her 4th birthday as well. Mom went all out, getting you both fancy dresses and jewellery, while I stood out plainly in my blue jeans and Barbie shirt. I came across that shirt just recently and the memory stood attention in my mind, fresh as ever, like it happened that morning.

Because she was your favourite at the time, Mom had arranged for Chidinma to perform at your party. She got bouncy castles and a clown and ice cream cakes and so much other stuff. Looking at all this with my child’s eyes, I thought back to my own 10th birthday party barely a year before. We did mine in the small house compound with the neighbour’s dog cage sitting pretty right in the middle of it. It didn’t stop me from loving my party though; all my friends came, and my aunty had gotten me this silly pink dress to wear. 

Now you’d think it was the difference in parties that tipped me off, but no. I wish it was; maybe I wouldn’t be so bitter about it. But, oh no. On my birthday, my mom was invited to say a few words about me, but she declined because she was tired. I cannot forget the way I had to bite the inside of my cheeks to stop myself from crying in front of my friends. On your birthday, however, she danced her way to the front, her eyes beaming with delight. She said you were her greatest source of joy, in real time and in real words. 

Derin was too young to understand, but since I was 11 years old, I was smart enough to understand what that meant. I watched, dumbfounded. I couldn’t keep listening; my face became hot. My eyes were red, and I felt tears well up instantly. I ran off to the restroom and cried until my tear-producing glands gave up. 

That seemed to be the beginning of my rebellion. And that was where I decided I didn’t want anything to do with you anymore.

Our conversations shortened, and my attitude toward you grew hostile. My being in boarding school didn’t help matters; being away from you for a few months just made me meet new people that weren’t like you, and when I did see you, I always thought, “How is this girl even related to me?”

I think I hated you. I truly despised you then. I wanted nothing to do with you whatsoever. 


I don’t know what has changed now. Maybe because we’re much older now? Probably. 


I love you now, though.

You can find more of Kanyinsola’s work here.