Five years old, that was the age Akum was when we lost our dad and when I was born. Mom never failed to mention to people that they were best friends. She hoped that information will serve as sufficient explanation to why her bubbly baby girl had been replaced with a dull reserved stranger. The way Mom waved her hands in the air dismissively whenever family members suggested that Akum saw a therapist and the way she chuckled when Akum’s first grade teacher expressed concern over Akum’s poor eating habit, showed that she wasn’t bothered. Mom thought it was all part of the grief process, and maybe she was right.
Soon after, I was born, then I became the silver lining in Akum’s gloomy cloud. She began to talk and laugh more. Her grades started going up again. After school hours, she spent a lot of time with me. We played pranks on people and we shared secrets. I was everything Ada, our older sister, couldn’t be for her. Akum was happy once more, and it was all because of me.
But everything was not as it seemed. Dad’s death fractured Akum. She became crazy.
Things became worse, so Mom caved in. I wept silently at the back of Mom’s Volvo while she drove Akum for her first session with the shrink. Mom turned back to us at a traffic stop and told Akum that it was going to be alright. Her soothing voice which had risen countless times at Akum whenever she caught her talking to herself , relieved me at that moment. My sister was nervous, so I squeezed her palm and offered words of encouragement. As Akum thanked me audibly, Mom glanced at us through the rear view mirror. I couldn’t help but notice a glint of irritation and fear in her eyes.
That night, Akum began to take prescribed pills. The psychologist warned that there will be side effects. She failed to say that my relationship with Akum will be adversely affected.
After years of no communication , Akum reached out to me 2 months ago. Diane had just broken up with her. I was there for her, just as I was when dad died. As we sat at a restaurant waiting for Ada to join us, I dutifully cheered her up.
Ada finally arrived . She hugged Akum, refusing to acknowledge me, as she has always does. Something told me that right from childhood, she has always been jealous that I was Akum’s favorite.
“When last?” she asked Akum
“ 2 months ago” Akum replied
Reaching into her purse, Ada raised an accusatory brow at her.
“Diane usually replaces it for me” Akum replied defensively, taking a pack of drugs from Ada.
Akum swallowed two pills. It didn’t take long before I began to feel like I was fading into thin air. The exact feeling I got when young Akum started taking those damn pills. Begging to be noticed, I screamed, but it was like I wasn’t even there.