Little Sister

The little girl who tries so hard to smile through all her tears.

But then she thinks, for a moment, a little bit too much,

Hides her face and wipes it with the back of her hand.

You can witness the sadness slowly enveloping her. See, somebody, at some point in time, somewhere, had taught this little girl to carry, on her back

The bulk of somebody else’s shame.


I so wish I could exchange those tears of yours for laughter, if even for only a minute;

Tell you that flowers ought to bloom from whichever grounds atop which you walk,

and that every part of you is in complete harmony with all that is good in here.


Everything that could ever possibly be beautiful about humanity

Is contained in the eye of a child. And slowly, their skins stretch.

Their minds, once almost wholly impressionable, become rather powerful. 

Meaty ‘frog legs’ grow into ones that can astutely kick footballs around.


Truth, beauty, goodness: our primary colours, perhaps.


You know, I can remember, as clear as day, the first time I held you in my arms; bated breaths,

Those sunshine-infused moments before you opened your eyes and took a good look at our world for the first time.

I prayed those lights wouldn’t hurt you; wished time would grind to a halt when you wrapped the entirety of your tiny hand around my finger,

Wished time would also just get over itself and show me what you might look like, aged ten.

Your eyes were jet black, as promised by nature, I suppose. Your expression was at once receptive and puzzled.

And the first time you cried, there were four people around you to listen, to watch your face struggle to let out your first sound,

Red cheeks, dampened mittens. And then, an uproarious introduction:

you made your voice known to all of us, a job very well done.


From this time onwards, I simply knew that I could not let you ever cry by yourself. I am always scared, afraid that you are still too small to handle such sadnesses.

And you know, seven months before your birth, I was allowed to catch a glimpse of you before most other people got to:

Ultrasound pictures tucked away in a little envelope. I saw your nose; you, the image of serenity, tucked away like that, not quite ready yet, to say hello to us.

Hello. I hope you know how loved you are, how loved you have been from the exact moment that divinely-commanded spirit blew Life into you.

When life gets heavy, know that I am here. I cannot physically carry you any more, no,

But you must know this:

red-faced newborn you is a picture that is forever emblazoned into my memory.

And I know it very well – the face you make when there is something in you that needs to be said; when, in absolute silence, you find yourself kicking the air, trying to shriek from the top of your lungs,

trying to let something, whatever it is, be known.

Sadia Ahmed, 2020