Sallay.

Honestly, I tear up thinking about how I felt on this day when you arrived.  It was the first time in my life that I no longer felt alone.  Before you were born, I was always at Aunty Agnes’s house.  They had a grandma living there, so Mom and Dad used to drop me off over there when they needed a last minute caregiver.  Everybody loves the African Grandma.  Since I was always there, that means I was always with Khosay and Alie. I think that because I had them, I didn’t feel like I needed a brother.  I had two.  I would watch them play together, constantly tearing up the house and getting yelled it.  It was such a damn good time!  But it made me realize that I really wanted a sister.  Like… I sat Mom and Dad down one day and said,

“I would like a sister.  It is not fair that other people have brothers and sisters.  I have no one.  I want a sister.”

On Memorial Day several, several years ago, I was dropped off to Khosay and Alie’s.  We were outside playing in their neighborhood with Tough, Stuff, and Enough.  Yep.  They were a trio, and Tough was my boyfriend… anytime I was over at the house.  That meant when all the neighborhood kids played tag, he was allowed to tackle me, and no one else could.  That was it though.  That defined childhood relationships for me.  Anyhoo, that Memorial Day was different.  I remember getting tackled by Tough and Khosay and him almost fought about it.  Tough took his time to get off of me, and Khosay wasn’t having it.  He was my brother.  I looked around and it was just brothers.  Khosy and Alie: Brothers.  Tough, Stuff, Enough: Brothers.

 “Yima, your sister is here!  You have a sister!”

Aunty Agnes yelled the words that changed my status.  It was a shift.  In that moment, I went from being alone to becoming a sister.

Yima and Sallay: Sisters.

I was no longer alone.

I had an idea of how I would ‘sister’ you, but I had no idea how you would ‘sister’ me.  Having you in my life has taught me so many things about myself.  I didn’t know that I could protect, guide, and lead until I had to do those things for you.  I didn’t know that I could contemplate executing a punk-ass dude, until I almost did it because he hurt you.  I didn’t know that I would boldly curse out parents (other people’s parents of course) on their driveway for allowing their kids to fight you at school without consequence. That day, I became everybody’s consequence.  The police officers just shook their head.  I didn’t know that I could be so disappointed too.  I didn’t know that I could care so much about your well-being and progress, that your failures literally make me sick.  Becoming a sister.  I think because I requested your presence, I always felt that I had to rise to the occasion.  I remember praying for you.  Even as a kid, I always noticed that when I asked God for stuff, it happened.  It was like, I talked to God about the important things, like a Sister and always getting As and Bs in school, and I talked to Mom and Dad about toys and clothes.  God always delivered, and Mom and Dad did if they were in a good mood.  Basically, nothing has changed. SMH.

Our sisterhood has been tough.  Our personalities are different, so our approach in how we take on life differs.

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Photography: Richard Nwaoko @richardnwaoko

At times, tremendously different, causing real friction.  However, the way that you allow me to ‘big-sister’ you… I’m grateful.  You listen and respect me.  You are honest and opinionated, often times, pissing me off.

But the way you cackle your way through my tempers and outbursts… well, only you can do it.

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Photography: Dior Davis Photograhy  @diordavis

The shit that we have endured together, whether it’s tackling divorces head-on, middle-fingering gossiping communities within and outside of our bloodline with a smile, silently committing to instill the best practices we know about being a virtuous woman into teenage Bintu (our pride and joy, right?), weathering failure points of the business, and finding the will to get back up and move forward together… the list continues.

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Runway Walk, Hand in Hand at Color Rich Styling Showcase 2017

From pushing you in your stroller down the quiet cul-de-sac in Columbus with shared dreams of leaving that life, to enjoying nightlife moments from New York City to Accra, you’re there.

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From NYC to Accra, Ghana circa 2017

Staring quietly out the window into the abyss of a place called Lunsar, with the sounds of Mom crying in despair and heartbreatk.  You’re at my side.  Sometimes, its about enduring hard moments in silence, together. Sometimes it’s about binge watching the box set of ‘LOST’ together all weekend, instead of dealing with people who suck.  Sometimes it’s about stalking Bintu on social media together until she finally calls back, and arguing about nothing on three-way.  Big. Sister. Shit.

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Photography: Bunmi, Sun of August  @kodak.junkie

Sometimes it’s about waking up out of your sleep to transferring dollars at 4AM because my African emergency is more important than your American bill.  These random moments of Sisterhood have kept me from losing my mind.

Sisterhood is the first jewel in my crown.  It officially started when you arrived.  You didn’t know it, but your entry into this world was a big sigh of relief for me.  I knew that my burdens would forever be lighter.

Every May 28th is a day of relief and celebration because you arrived.  Thanks bruh.

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Somebody’s iPhone. Top: M’Balu 

 

Love  & Gratitude,

Yima

 

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