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Jan 6, 2011, 12:54 PM | Article By: Isatou Dumbuya

The first time you heard that your brother was coming from the land of the White man, he didn’t come home the day he was supposed to come, nor the next day and the next. He must have gone off with some friends to catch up on old times, you thought and perhaps you knew him too well to think so.

Your parents have been looking forward to seeing him. They prepared Domoda with so much meat fit for a king’s meal. All those days they kept talking about him as if you weren’t there and preparing more food in vain.

Their anticipation only made your hatred for him grow. After three days of waiting for him, he surfaced, with a white lady.

He came bursting in like he was the best thing that has ever happened to the family.

“Everybody my son has come,” Your mother shouted at the top of her voice.

Your father was reading when he heard that and got up as quickly as he could to see his son. You were busy writing when you heard your mother and you curiously parted the blinds in your room to have a glimpse of him; just a glimpse, you told yourself. He looked changed and more matured with his neat dread-locks. Your brother looked more handsome with his light skin he inherited from your mother, full lips and bright shiny honey-coloured eyes from your father. He used to be the most handsome boy amongst his age-mates. Whenever they play fight, they excluded him calling him names like butter-man and fine-boy. This was because he looked so delicate with skin like milk; so fine so delicate. Some people blamed your mother for wasting that skin on a boy rather than on you, a girl.

Whenever your mother bought coconuts, she cracked them against a stone, carefully so that the watery milk stayed in the lower piece, a jagged cup. Everybody got a sip of the wind-cooled milk, even the children from down the street who came to play, and your mother made sure he went first. You hated him for being first in everything, for being perfect in everything and under everybody’s eyes.

To them you were the girl with warts on her fingers, you were clumsy, you had butter-fingers and skin-diseases and the girl who was as black as mid-night. Worst of all, they treated you like a leper until you reached sixteen.

It was the year they saw you as a big girl, the clever girl who earned a full scholarship from the government; the girl who wined and dined with top officials. It was the year you wrote your first novel. Frozen, frozen was what you named it, and it did freeze everybody out of their minds, even your parents. They now proudly call you their daughter, their sweetheart. And the year you wrote your second novel you were eighteen and it earned you a contract with Macmillan, a trip to South Africa, Brazil and Washington. It was the year you swore never to come back home.