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There are too many smiles. Too much applause.

I wanted to write your eulogy. I wanted to be able to say goodbye even if it was a conversation from only one-side. I wanted to borrow the words of all those that loved you so that you could hear them one last time. I want to keep sprinkling those words all over the canvas of this world so that your absence booms for eternity and then forgetting you won’t be such a worry. I want to be certain that I have etched you into everyone’s memory, that my repetition gives you depth even after your death, but everyone around me dubbed it “strength”?

I wanted to be able to step up. I spent my life following your footsteps in whatever direction you chose and your death was not going to be end of that. I wanted to step up for our parents who painted themselves grey in your loss as they donned an armor of your legacy and armed themselves with weaponry to defend you from anyone with too many questions. I wanted to step up for our brother who pierced his ear and deepened his voice and shot up to your height, all seemingly overnight, and hid his eyes behind your shades as I clasped my hands together and prayed for him to keep his faith. I was suddenly an older daughter eligible for motherhood & marriage, as well as the oldest son with the last say, so I separated the good from the tragic and tried my best to fill shoes so large and brilliant, and everyone praised me for being “oh so resilient”.

As we lay you to rest, my fingers grew into claws and my head sprouted horns as my heart pumped the rage through my body unapologetically and I bared my teeth viciously at anyone who dared to question me because suddenly I was at war with the rest of the world and it became too hard to keep up, so my insides often shriek out loud and my skin looks singed from all the times I almost burnt out and yet a recess is no excuse so I continue to fight, pretending to know what I’m doing, when really all your death did was set me aflame but I couldn’t let them all in so I let my love speak for us instead, hoping it would silence the monster that’s harping in my head, shamelessly calling me an imposter.

Because honestly, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t know how I’ve made it without you to the end of another year. I don’t know where within me I carry you and yet you leak out inadvertently. I don’t know how Ahmed wears so much of you effortlessly. I don’t know why that makes me equal parts fearful and happy. Everything I do in your name comes to me as naturally as swaying mindlessly from my room to yours across the hall, just to exchange a few words unnecessarily as we both learnt the meaning of procrastination respectively. And yet there are claims of strength and resilience and setting an example, that send a sinking anchor of shame down to the pits of my being because all of it feels like I’m faking it. Because nothing about losing you has felt strong or empowering. Nothing about this journey has made feel proud or secure, never anything more than the anguish of a love lost. Nothing more than an imposter, nothing more than a sister obsessed with the loss of her brother.

And then I think of you, and all that we saw when we saw you. Strong, charming, hilarious, calm, witty, loud, warm. And how you believed it was all misconstrued, that none of that about you was true. How you spent your entire life believing you were an undeserving imposter, and how my resolve to fill your shoes has worked out better than I thought.

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