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  • This is my favourite photo of my sister and I.

    On the right, sits my sister, age four, wearing her favourite red dress. And on the left, myself, age two, wearing an unfamiliar dress, made strange by the passing of time.

    I often allow myself to imagine what happened before, during, and after this moment in time.

    Here we are appear alone in our sweetness, but invisible to the frame are two people. There is my father, holding a camera, steadying it with his other hand, taking care to center us within the frame. There is my mother, off to the side, barely out of the frame. She does not like photographs of herself, and infinitely prefers to take and look at photographs of us.

    At some point, watching us squirm in our chairs, my mother must have said "Zebi, give Jiabi a kiss!"

    My sister then swings a little arm around my neck, pulling me close. She even rests her left hand on my side, steadying me carefully before planting a kiss on my cheek. Her expression is that of thoughtfulness, and her arms let me know, simply and surely, that I am her younger sister. I belong to her, and she will always take care of me.

    And there's my expression. I am the stunned recipient of the kiss, perhaps too young to comprehend what the wetness on my cheek meant. A second later, did I turn my head to give her a kiss? I do hope so.

    I am now 21 years old, and she is 23. Our birthdays are two days apart, and we make it a point to celebrate them together. Before the candle is blown, my sister turns to me and gives me a kiss, holding her lips right there on my cheek so that my father can take a picture of the moment. We are in the center of the frame. My mother, off to the side, smiling on and then trying to get us to hurry up before the candles melt into a mess.

    That is when I turn to my sister, and give her a kiss. It is a birthday kiss and one of many to come.
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