I remember the first time I saw her, our grandfather had died and she came to Papa’s house with her parents and sisters. My mum and I had travelled down earlier than my dad and brothers, and I was pretty lonely and very bored because everyone was preoccupied with burial arrangements.
A white car drove up, a Peugeot I think and they all tumbled out. I recognised my Aunty Ugboaku and her husband and thought “this must be her children”. Mummy had lived with them when they had the first two kids and in a lot of ways mummy considered Amarachi her firstborn. I was curious to see Amara, this child my mother talked about very often. I watched her walk out, full of the grace that is embedded in her name and I knew my life would never remain the same. I was a rather reserved child and rarely rocked the boat, yet by the time they were leaving I had packed a few things to follow them home and even though my mum tearfully asked me to stay with her I firmly refused.
Amara had just finished JS3 at the time and she was on holiday, when her sisters went to school I was her constant shadow. I asked a million and one questions about everything and she was amazingly patient (I wouldn’t have been that patient and tolerant). We went to Umungasi market together, she showed me the sights in Aba, talked about her dreams and goals. She wanted to be a doctor back then and she was waiting to resume at a science school for her senior secondary school. At the time, I wanted to become a banker but her quiet and intelligent fervour for the sciences made me decide that I wanted to do something science related in the distant future.
She was the most beautiful teenager in the world, a true beauty inside and outside and I wanted to be her when I grew up, to be kind, loving, humble and savvy. When my brothers came to the village, I had to go back to Mbaise and after the burial we had to go home. She didn’t forget me, we wrote letters back and forth and I was as happy as a loon when she gained admission to the university to study industrial chemistry.
After youth service, she got a job and soon became a huge financial pillar for me during my days in uni. She never gave excuses whenever I asked, not even when I needed a crazy amount for my project, she’d quietly bail me out without a word to anyone. Seriously if I buy her a Ferrari tomorrow, it won’t be enough, nowhere near enough to say thank you for opening her wallet to me.
Even now she’s still my rock, a listening ear, and wise counsellor when the issues of life seem so complicated. She’s a blessing to her family and to the world.
She’s my role model as a Christian, she’s on fire for God and you can see his love flow through her.
Happy birthday Sisi, Big sis ka ndi big sis nile, Ada gbara jam, Oyoyo nwa, Asa ugo, Ms fabulously endowed. You are beyond precious, beyond amazing and you are deeply loved by all of us. Have the “bestest” birthday ever and don’t forget to DHL our cake.
Funfact: I’m about the same age my dad was when this picture was taken.
Finally, my big sister was a pretty baby and my mother was pretty skinny.