I have always loved my sister.
Apart from the fact she also had tenancy in my mother’s womb for a while, Cynthia – who used to bully me – was terrified of Yemi after the one time she stood toe to toe with her, a teeny 4 year old to Cynthia’s 7+, and warned her categorically to NOT bully her sister again or face the music! I don’t know what instrument she planned to play, but she was fearless, I can tell you.
She protected my quiet space, after she came to understand it – which was a while – and would tell my mum to leave me alone when she got worried that I was cuddled up with a book for a long time, as I was wont to be.
But I didn’t always like my sister.
She was the epitome of an amebo – always downloaded stuff to our mum that happened in her absence. For a child who created her own world, I couldn’t understand why it was difficult for her to keep quiet.
She used to read my ‘secret’ journals without permission. I mean, at the time, I was in the middle of some apocalyptic teenage moments and I wasn’t shy about sharing with my diary. At least I wasn’t until it became clear someone had been snooping.
And oh yes, she was not a fan of school. For a student who was the teacher’s favorite, it used to drive me nuts.
Today is her birthday, and I am awed by my sister’s growth – emotionally and mentally.
I will never forget when in 2015, I hit what felt like bottom and it was difficult to find my own voice. I woke my sister at midnight and told her; “I don’t know what I’m going to do, Yemi.”
And then I cried. I can imagine how scary that must have been for her, because I’m always the pillar, the strong one who can weather any storm. But I felt like this particular one was going to drown me.
It didn’t, because I had her. She sat on the floor with me and told me I was strong, I was the strongest person she knew and I would weather it. Not only weather it, but come out smelling like roses.
Through this period I was in a zombie state, she acted as my buffer, protecting me and being my voice.
For as long as I live, I will never forget that.
When she was in 100 level in the university, we often joked about her level up from being a child who hated school to a lady who was on a First Class degree in the Department of Economics, University of Ibadan.
In my final year in the same university, knowing how occupied I was, my sister would call me randomly and ask to bring me cooked food or take me to lunch at our favorite cafeteria.
My dreams have not all come true, but my sister keeps me gassed up! She calls me many names – writer extraordinaire, my sister the money maker, the mover, the inspiration – and others.
Olayemi, happy birthday. I didn’t check, but I imagine that at midnight today, the stars came together just a little more and twinkled just a bit brighter because well, it’s your birthday and they had to take notice.
I hope you always remember that the very essence of you is made of rivulets of magic, bright and ever-evolving. I hope you remember that this world is your oyster, and that you can be anything you want to be. I hope you realize how much we love you, and how lucky we are to have you in this family, even though you stay piling up our debit alerts.
May the universe always listen when you speak. May the stars always align for you. May the earth stay solid beneath your feet. May the sky be receptive of your flight.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Yemsssss.