an older sister

by Aqeela Naqvi

It’s hard to express what it means to have an older sister.

To me, an older sister is: a haphazardly drawn chalk highway on the driveway after school; a bike ride and jump rope until the disappearance of the last glimmer of sunlight; a competition on the swings, breathing in the brisk autumn air; ice angels and snowmen and slowly pinkening noses; early summer mornings spent at the library, finding secret spots in which to curl up with a book.

An older sister is: a patient answer to a never-ending string of, “What’s that-s?” and “Can you help me-s?” She is the first cry, but also the first laugh; she is fighting and getting in trouble and making up ten minutes later (because you can’t play House by yourself, can you?). She is the person who you can have an entire conversation with without her paying a single bit of attention, but who’ll nod as if she is anyway; she is your partner-in-crime who will, more often than not, take the blame when you inevitably get caught; she is your first teacher on how to toughen your skin, to stand with a straight spine (because though she has full rights to make fun of your silly haircut and how your punchline never finds its way to the end of your stories, if anyone else tries, they’ll have to deal with her first).

An older sister is: someone who, though you both fear the invisible monster that hides by the stairs at night, braves the darkness to turn on the kitchen light so you can follow to get a snack; who holds an arm out to double-check for cars before you both cross the street; who navigates a dangerous road and marks out the safest path so it will be easier for you to follow;

who holds the shield as you turn the corner, bearing the brunt force of battle—telling you of light where she sees darkness, speaking of hope where she sees despair; becoming herself disillusioned but keeping the picture bright in your mind in the hopes that though she is growing up, you might be able to, for a few more years, enjoy the magic of childhood.

Thank you for everything, Baji, my first and forever friend.