Love is My Sister Saving Me Simply By Existing by Àmọ̀kẹ́


Sisters by chance, friends by choice.

I was two years old when my sister was born, I don’t remember it. I haven’t really thought about it, until now. I imagine it being a sunny Friday, I imagine the sky being the prettiest shade of blue because her spirit is so bright and my sister is the most beautiful being to grace this heavy world. I imagine the birds singing beautiful songs as our mother takes a deep breath for the final push. I imagine our father screaming with joy because his god has blessed him with an angel.  


Growing up with her was interesting. It is strange how siblings can grow up in the same household, with the same parents, yet have different experiences. Being only two years apart, my mother dressed us up as twins when we were kids. We had the same clothes, we had the same hairstyle, we attended the same school, and had the same friend group. One time, I cried and begged our mother to shave my hair off because this girl I had a crush on shaved hers. She cried and begged our mother to shave her hair too. I hated this so much but she loved it. Now that I think about it, I was projecting or jealous. I was an angry child, angry at everything. She wasn’t, she was too calm, too forgiving. It did not make sense to me how she managed to breathe through living In our house, with our parents. 


I badly wanted an older sibling, I hated being the first child. It was too much responsibility. I had to be perfect, and I had to save everybody. My parents would constantly remind me of my firstborn-ship and how I had to be a perfect role model for my sister. When she did something wrong, I was blamed for it. I too wanted an older sibling to look up to so I resented her for it. 


Being an older sibling is a strange but beautiful experience. I only started to see the beauty in it when I started to heal. I realized that my sister is a whole human being, participating and contributing to this realm. I realized that she was not just an extra character in my life. She too has been stacking and creating her own experiences.


As teenagers, an unspoken awareness descended on my sister and me. Because we were so close in age and were experiencing the same things, we became close. Not close enough to talk about the things causing us pain and sadness but close enough to talk about the boys we were dating and the things that made life lighter for us. We started to look out for each other. Maybe if I had shared with her how lonely and empty I was, just maybe it would have been easier for me to carry. 


It was at this time her presence started to heal me. We loved the same shows and the same type of music and we bonded through that. We would spend hours curating and acting “dramas” with our toys. We called it  “toy drama”. We did not have to overthink it, it was like it was divinely orchestrated, our storytelling in sync. We and our toys, we all knew our roles. We would immerse ourselves in the drama for hours. Most of our “toy drama” revolved around family. It would include scenes of my toy family and hers fighting. But the families would always come together to figure out their differences. Eventually, we outgrew playing with toys. We developed an interest in fashion and clothes. We would play dress up together. Mixing and matching pieces from my wardrobe. Asking for each other’s opinions. We are older now and  live in different countries, but my sister FaceTimes me to play dress up when she buys new outfits.       

We both loved to dance and would spend hours creating dance routines that we performed in church.

We both liked long braids, we started getting the same color and length of braids. I  taught her how to braid hair and we would spend hours together, practicing on our mother’s hair. That was our way of bonding. 

When I finished secondary school, I enrolled in a makeup school. After my classes, I would spend time teaching her everything I learned from my class. Eventually, I got bored of makeup and I gave her my entire makeup box. On her own graduation from secondary school, I did her makeup. My father complained about us being late for the ceremony, but I did not mind, I took my time to dress her up and do her makeup.                  


We became even closer in 2019. My family had just relocated to America. I refused to stay with them. I returned to Nigeria to continue my university education. My sister started university that same year. It was like her entering university was an indication that we were equals. To me, her being in the university meant she was grown. 

My sister, with her sweet nature, tends to be a people pleaser and sometimes I think I am the cause of it. I had been rebelling all my life. My rebellion caused a lot of fights at home. In my rebellion and leaving the house,  She had to grow up faster than her age. She became the easy child. Sometimes, guilt eats me up so badly when I think about how she being the “easy” child reflects in her friendships and relationships. She struggled with saying no and speaking up for herself. Nobody told her it was impossible to build homes in people’s bodies. I could not tell her either. I was struggling with the same thing.


On her 18th birthday, she got drunk and FaceTimed me. It was a very light but vulnerable moment. I was glad she felt comfortable doing that with me. 

When she was going to university, my parents protested against her living on her own. She called to rant about how she really wanted to move out, and I understood. I too had to move out to find myself. Especially growing up in a house as loud as ours. It felt exciting that she called me to rant about it. I felt like I had been given a chance by the universe to be a big sister. I called my parents and used my rebellious techniques and it worked. She got a place for herself. 

There were times when she was unable to express her frustration when people that are supposed to be her friends acted otherwise. She would call me, ranting and asking for advice. In those moments, I would feel genuine rage because I did not understand how anybody would want to hurt a being as peaceful and kind as my sister. Sometimes I wish I could give me a tiny piece of my brutal spirit, but I don’t want to taint her and her innocent spirit.


Over the years, I have grown very protective of my sister. I have this clear knowledge that she is one of my soulmates. Having a sister is the universe giving you a permanent best friend. We are both in our early twenties now and experiencing adulthood together. It is a blessing to be able to not carry heaviness alone. We don’t have to say anything, we both understand.


In my family, my sister is the only person I am out as a Lesbian to. I remember the day I came out to her. It was a regular day, I had finished my classes and was relaxing in my dorm room. One of my friends got us brownies. After the effect of the brownies kicked in, my head started to do what it does best, think. I realized how badly I craved my sister’s acceptance. At this point, we were already very close and I felt like I was still hiding parts of myself from her. It felt as if revealing this part of my life to her would be the final thing that would either seal our bond or break it. I typed out a long epistle. I told her about how I was not attracted to men, I told her that I was not a sin and I really hoped she did not see me as one. I told her about my partner and what loving her felt like. I blamed my vulnerability on the brownies but I knew in my heart that it was all me. I also opened up about my depression and my vices. I remember being so anxious after sending the message. My heart was beating so loud, I thought it would fall out of my chest. I waited for her response. When her message came in, I cried. She told me she already knew about my sexuality. I replayed that line in my head. She had known all this time and still loved me. She waited till I was ready. She told me she loved me. That was all I needed to hear. That was how she saved me. I started to breathe easier because no matter the hurtful thing anybody did to me, my sister loved me. It didn’t matter what I was or how I presented, my sister loved me. It didn’t matter if I didn’t love myself enough, my sister loved me. 

I went back home after 5 years. She brought flowers to the airport. I had never received flowers before that. I am still unable to describe the type of love I felt that day. It calmed me and whispered, “You are loved”. We stayed in the same room and slept on the same bed just like we used to do when I was 5 and she was 3.  My sister is an embodiment of unconditional love. She is my mirror in my life. Because she exists, I know that I do not have to do anything to be deserving of love, I do not have to overextend myself or people please to be deserving of love. All I need to do is show up as genuine and as authentic as I can be, there will always be space for me to be. I hope I also serve as her mirror in her own life. I hope she is reminded every day that she is deserving of the space she occupies. I hope that there is a ringing at the back of her head, singing to her that she does not have to accommodate people who make her feel less than she should because there is love at home. I hope that when I cross her mind, she is reminded that there is power in being firm in your boundaries. I hope she is reminded that she does not have to carry the weight of everybody.

I hope when she thinks of me, she is reminded that she is stronger than she thinks. I hope when the heaviness of this world becomes unbearable, this essay reminds her of her true essence. Because she is a light being, the heaviness cannot and will not stay for long. On the days that she is too weak to hold herself, I hope she remembers that I will always have space to hold her. Always will.



 Àmọ̀kẹ́ (they) is a Queer Nigerian writer of fiction/non-fiction and poetry. Their writing style includes a blend of spirituality, imagination, and life’s mysteries that can serve as mirrors for society. They explore themes of grief, love, queerness and conditioning, etc, inviting introspection for readers.



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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.