I was seven and she was six. She had came to visit, spend time with her big sister. I was too busy to spend all my days with her. She loved to play outside, roam the rivers and catch frogs and fireflies like she did at home with our sister and brother but that wasn’t my scene. She tried to teach me games, skipping rope, umagalobha and amatshe but I sucked at every one. I always wanted to be inside, alone. I felt bad, not being able to join in on her fun and so everyday I’d come home with a sherbet, a lollipop, something she could squeeze from a wrapper and eat in the dark. Ayanda would rush to the gate to greet me in the afternoon or I’d find her at the bus stop waiting to walk me home, her arms open for a hug. I thought at first that she was after the sweeties in my jumper but discovered that she was excited to have me back. This devotion was new to me. I didn’t know how to hug her back or say simple things like, “I’ll miss you” or “I love you too.”
In the evenings as she washed getting into her nightie I would tell my sister stories. I would lie to her and she would laugh. When I was attacked by a waif of a girl who took me for everything, I told my sister I had met a giant on my way home. I told her he had fangs. I said I’d fought him till he broke down and told me he had a sick child and so I decided to give him everything I had. She thought that I was brave, that I was kind. She told me this as she pressed toothpaste onto the brush, I stopped her before she could wet the brush, reached into the front pocket of my jumper and pressed two socks of sherbet into her wet palm. I leaned in and kissed someone else, for the first time in my life.
Today my sister is at the dentist. I can imagine her panic and fear but I’m glad she’s old enough to brave it on her own.