My dear brother, it is with great pain to find myself writing you this letter. But with all the pain and confusion you have inflicted on me, I have no choice left but to release the unbearably painful memories I have kept in my mind ever since I knew you.
I remember when our mom used to be around, that was the last I saw you often. You would never in your life say something positive to me. You would never hug or comfort me when I would cry. You would instead wait for me to make a simple mistake, like when I tried to impress mom with my English, and I would end up saying the wrong thing. You would laugh so loudly that I would feel my heart break into a billion pieces.
I remember when you would go out with your friends and I would try to follow you, because I yearned for my own brother’s attention, ngwana wa bomma, wena o rileng go nyanya wa nshiela letswele. All I ever detected in your eyes was annoyance – not love, not warmth but annoyance. The only time you would ever bother talking to me was when you would shout at me. You would tell me that I should put my shoes on because I was an embarrassment to you and that my dirty bare feet always made you so angry. I would always remind myself never to forget to wear my shoes.
I have seen how my mother tried to keep us close; reminding us how important it is for us to stay as one. She never loved either one of us more than the other; she loved us equally. But the way you loathed me, looked at me every time I called your name, always left me asking myself if I had done anything to hurt you.
I grew up envying my friends dear brother because their brothers took them out and laughed with them, showed them to their friends. But not even once have you ever allowed me an inch anywhere close to your friends. That was how much of an embarrassment I was and still am to you.
When our mother passed away, dear brother, I had nobody left but you. But I don’t remember you taking any efforts to be there. Our mother’s passing was your way of showing me just how much I annoyed you. When I went through adolescence, I became lost and started seeing boys. Why couldn’t you just take a moment to fight for your little sister’s innocence, to show me right from wrong?
Did I really mean that little to you? Why? Why did you choose to distance yourself from me like this? Was it how mama treated me? Could it have anything to do with my father? Do you feel that I took your space in our mother’s heart?
If I could just know; I’m a woman now and I still wonder how my own brother can be such a stranger towards me and yet a brother and a friend to others.
I watch you from a distance smiling at someone and I feel my heart flooding with pain and tears. Never in my twenty-six years have I ever seen you smile at me like that. I hear you playing with our cousins and I wish you could joke with me like that sometimes. I hear others speak of your generosity and I ask myself if they really are talking about you. Every time I need your help you ignore me like I don’t even exist.
I just wish you could know I’m not proud of what I have become, dear brother; I have two children with two different fathers and am unemployed at my age. I am working on bettering myself, learning from my mistakes and making you proud someday.
Please tell me, would it ever be possible to make you proud, brother? How will I ever manage to do that, when you see me the way you do? Like an irritating fly on your wall every time I try to reach out to you. I try, big brother, to forget the heartache wrenching my soul when I think of every bitter memory you left in my heart.
Do you remember when you said I could look for colleges but never even once bothered paying for my fees? I don’t know if you know but they ended up throwing me out. If I remember well that was the same year you bought your wife a car.
I remember when you decided to marry. When you bought your first car. When your son was born. All those beautiful things happening in your life, I was the last to know. Even so, big brother, I was happy for you. I still am. I never wish you evil nor even hate you for everything that happened between us.
I just wish you could tell me what I ever did, where have I ever wronged you? So much that even my children annoy you. Could they have done the same things I had done to you? Will I ever go to my grave not knowing what it is? Please brother. You might deprive me your love, your warmth, your smile but please do not deprive me my answer. All I need to know is what I have ever done to build such a wall between us.
My wish is to make things right because I can never rest not knowing. Sometimes I shift the blame to other people like your wife, or your family, but this is something between us. All those people were not there when we grew up. I don’t want to shift the blame anymore I just need to know. But while I wait for my answer I just need you to know that I love you big brother. It doesn’t matter how many tears I have shed because of you, you are my brother, my only brother; my kin, how could I ever hate you?
I want you to know even though you see my children the same way you see me, I will always see my nephews as my two angels, my mother’s grandchildren, who are heaven sent and made me an aunt. I sometimes hear others talk about how bad luck will befall you because of how you treat me. I pray that it never happens, that you continue to prosper and succeed in everything that you do. You have worked hard to get where you are big brother I can never resent you for that.
All I ever yearned for was your love, to know how it feels like to wake up and call my brother. To receive a happy birthday text, or hear a simple I love you coming out of your mouth.
I have written this letter to ask you what I have ever done to you. But while I wait, I beg you that you forgive me where I have wronged you, if I ever have wronged you because I have forgiven you for everything.
Tell us what you think: What can the narrator do to make things right with her brother?