Whenever I am going to unfamiliar places, I am always going with the certainty that, somehow, somewhere, I will find an ally in a woman. A confident. A counselor. A shoulder to lean on in times of need. A partner to laugh out loud and dance with until the wee hours of the night. A friend. A teacher… Women have always been such a big part of my life, so much so that growing up, my sisters were my role models. Especially one them, Verlaine. Although she is only two year older than me, I wanted to be just like her. I have always admired her strong personality and how witty she is. She taught me tiredlessly how to ride a bike when I was 6. Then, she taught me carefully how to roller skate when I was 8 and how to swim when I was 9 ( yes I was pretty late on that one). The same year, she helped me write, patiently and without judging me, my first love letter ever, to Hannah, a classmate I was madly in love with. ( Sadly, Hannah did not get the opportunity to read that letter because I had put it in the mailbox with no stamp on it.) Whenever someone would mess with me at school, they knew they were also messing with my big sister. Whenever she was not around, I felt like a part of me was missing. I still do.
When I was in Cambodia last year, the most affordable and practical means of transportation I had was a bike. For six months, I rode a bike. I would ride at it at least four times a day : to get to work in the morning, to get the market for lunch in the afternoon and to get back to work before going back home at night. I had this very dear friend and colleague of mine who could not ride a bike so sometimes I would offer to carry her on mine or she had to walk or pay for a tuk tuk. Of course, I could have easily survived there without knowing how to ride a bike but just like my friend I would have been very dependent on others. I remember reminiscing once about all those moments in our living room back in Cameroon when I fell and got back up and fell and got back up and fell again and fell again under the encouragements of my big sister who was not so big at the time, until my body could fully bear the weight of her bike. All those moments have led me to every single time I have been able to proudly say « Yes. I know how to ride a bike » and stand on my own bike freely. My sister has made them possible. This is my love letter to her… and you, whoever and wherever you may be, male or female, whose shoulders I get to stand on every time I am going to unfamiliar places. Thank you for always showing up for me.
Until we meet (again).