Like Noah’s dove, firstborns get first dibs venturing out. We test the waters. We check the state of the world. We are the family’s first guinea pig. And we are already too willing. We pursue to escape from mother’s nest like it is Sobibor. Like a Kenyan lady pursues exit from the Big Brother’s house, fast. Like Kaleos chase gold in marathons, with resolve. Like Rao pursues presidency, unwaveringly. You get it.
So we venture out in to the adult jungle life buried waist deep in pheromones. It’s a miracle to murk out unscathed. We fall in love for the first time. The guys in turn promise us the world they barely understand, steered only by lust for virgin thighs, plump bottoms and shy breasts. They take us for dates, connive ways to lead us on and eventually leave with our hymens and sometimes dignity. Then they jump that story with a removed nerve that can only be spurred by herculean male machismo. We nurse our broken hearts and hymens and trudge the world mistrusting, cold and sometimes with child. Then barely as we make it out through this misty patch the world throws in the other female teenage sibling.
My baby sister is now grown up.
She has her own make-up pouch complete with lipstick, eye-shadow, a spare spoon and all that clutter women keep. She leaves the house at 7 am, always pressed for time and returns after the sun sets. There’s chocolate in the fridge. Chocolate I didn’t buy. So there’s a boy. Some gung ho chap that’s trying to get to her. Some chap that I’m plotting to exterminate. And they give money to people on attachment now. Rumor is that she gets 500 bob a day and if she proves her worth, gets a bonus at the end of the month. I don’t know but it must be big. She’s made of money now and this is how I concluded this.
As she was putting away the dishes one evening after dinner, she casually pointed out, “I’m getting a weave”. Now, if Vera is anything to go by, those weaves are not cheap. Ama?
“I already told mum so I am just letting you know.” She said as a matter of fact, now eying me for a reaction.
In my head, a silent plea to the heavenly father went like this, “Dear God I asked you to let her remain 10. But you said ah ah. Please take the wheel. And kill all weave manufacturers. Do it fast too. Before Kesho. Please Lord of all powers that be. It’s for world peace.”
But what’s the use arguing with a rich woman? She wasn’t asking me for an opinion or for money. She is rich now, 500 shillings a day plus bonus. So I did what I usually do. I played it by the ear. I let her. I said sawa.
And before I recovered she threw me another hardball “I’d like to go out with my friends tomorrow if you don’t mind. I don’t need you to pick me up either. I’ve got it.”
I feel like those new dads crammed in Aga Khan’s delivery waiting room, hoping for a ‘how-to-raise -a-daughter’ manual. Only now, she comes fully grown with a pair of shy breasts of her own, and I am sworn to protect them. Somebody pass me a hammer. Because God forbid the day a spirited third year scoundrel that’s whirling about in porn miasma, will come knocking on my front door, probably with one earphone plugged in his ear and the other dangling on his unworthy, calculating chest.
He might stretch out his hand in greeting. That wanker’s hand.
I’ll look at it and wonder if it’s too early to go to jail. I’ll see through the honey laced mouth to the hyena inside and will fight the urge end that boy. Pop his clogs completely with my hammer.
Imagine now that he uses the same hands to type her smses telling her ‘you are my powerpuff girl’. She might giggle and find it cute. I can feel my insides turn. Come on Mo, Powerpuff girls was our thing. I was Blossom, you were Bubbles. Dammit boy, she is MY powerpuff girl, my sidekick, my heart. Stop lying to her.
Sometimes she’ll sleep in my bed and I’ll hear her phone vibrate at 1 am with a whatsapp text. Obviously some randy kid. I’ll drowsily flutter my eyes open in time to see her smile over the phone light illuminating her face. Those days I contemplate murder. Those days, I wake up at 5 am to jog. Those days I run against demons. Demons that are texting her. Demons that are testing me! At this rate, I’ll turn into a long distant runner or someone will die.
Mo is 18 going on thirty. She wears lipstick now, every day. I saw her reading a book one time. What do you know gang, it’s not all lost. But she draws, it’s her thing. She is her own lady now and I have to let her be. She used to admire only me, her bigger sister, her only sister. Now, there’s a hoard of haughty friends each with a heady idea of what teenagers should do. I am no longer the cool cat. Apparently, I’m too staid, too dull. Because I don’t like that double tap song. I just recently made peace with her ear piercings. But it seems I barely have time to compose myself before she jumps on to the next giddy thought. Now she wants human hair. There’s Mexican chica in Rio that’s about to go bald. We don’t know who or what her history might be. Shouldn’t we look into this first? What happens if the Mexican lass had a lice situation? Or a Chinese lady had to cut hers to pay for a boat ride to the land of the brave. Eh? Would you want to be part of that?
So I get anxious. Like the feeling you get when you step on the imaginary extra step on the stairs. But it’s fine. I think I had enough lead time to cement my place in her heart and some principles in her heart. I tried to set a good enough example. I swear I only did that evil bend-over dance once, in the privacy of my bedroom. We should be fine.
Firstborns bring up siblings by default. It is pure splendor that when other kids had dolls to play with, we got our own little humans to play with, to look after and to adore. Ergo, our first instinct is to protect, to tend, to be needed.
But it’s quickly coming to me, raising a baby sister is a summed up series of tiny heartbreaks. They start right about that day she wants her independence. She’ll slowly learn the ropes in the kitchen and before you know it, she doesn’t need you there. Then she’ll leave the house when she starts on her attachment. You’ll fight the urge to take her to work and stay there to watch her. You’ll come home to an empty shell of a house since she leaves later than you and has to jav. A cold, bare house. Obliterated of all human presence but yours.
She won’t text you the whole day either. And you’ll miss her. You’ll want her to text just once, even if it is to ask for phone credit. She buys her own weaves too so it means she can buy land in Kilgoris and relocate if she wants to, so you bite your tongue. You’ll wonder when she stopped needing you. She doesn’t even realize it. You watch her slowly getting sucked into her new world of school, jobs, friends and weaves. And the anxiousness will slowly transform to fear. You’ll pray at night. You’ll call your mother. You’ll buy two bulldogs and put them on a diet of only pepper. Bulldogs that MUST accompany her everywhere.
And then there’s more. She wants admiration from men. They aren’t even grown yet, these boys too wet behind their ears, to admire my baby sister like I do. They see thighs where I see the stride of a strong-minded lady. They see lips where I see an eloquent, well articulated speaker. They see bouncing curls and hair where I see her crown of reason, the sovereign ruler of her own body. They see a full bottom where I see a proud sacristy that enfolds all her holiness. My baby sister is poetry in motion. For all that and more that I see in her, it will never be enough. So I have to let her wings grow, help her take off and hope she flies high, level headed and with humility. That even when she swaps her weave for extensions, it won’t go into her head. That she’ll wait with poise and grace.
I will be filled with boundless grief good folk when that day comes. That day when she’ll love another more, when I have to play second fiddle. He will not care for her like I do. He will not know her when she had a 500 bob and all she wanted was a weave.
It’s in the offing folks, this looming heartbreak.