Heaven and earth, my sister and I are.Which is a wonder given that we are, after all, fraternal twins.
I like to think that we split into polar opposites in the womb, instead of our chis mixing they divided cleanly in half: I got all the caution genes and Carol was born as wild as they come. We are both in our early thirties: I have a quaint little family, two children and Carol...well, Carol is on her latest experiment with hair colour: electric blue this time.
For my part I like my hair exactly as the good Lord intended it: short, in those tight curls they christened 4C and preferably in one protective style and or the other (the Father may have gifted me the hair but he certainly didn't give me the patience to face it every day).
I have a very stable, though not particularly exciting accounting job at the same firm I interned in ten years ago. Carol has changed careers perhaps even more than she has hair colours.
She started out as a self-proclaimed florist at Kenyatta Market. After a few broken pots and many days baking in the sun waiting on anthophiles, she decided selling flowers wasn't her calling.
Insurance came next and she sold premiums for a while before growing disillusioned by that as well and decided to rejoin school and major in film. Why film? None of us knew. My father, having given up understanding her, simply shook his head in exasperation and accepted her eccentricities as something she would gradually outgrow.
She did not.
Carol got her hands on a camera and fell deeply, madly, passionately in love with framing and composition, with lighting and angles and all that camera hullabaloo.
She grew — seemingly impossible — even odder than before. That camera was the one constant perpetually on her neck: the extension of Caroline. And even as her hair and fashion choices remained infuriatingly in the wind, that camera became a sort of unshakeable identifier.
Her 20s have been spent traveling around the continent capturing something of the world that only seems to come alive when she points her camera and shoots. My children have bestowed upon her the moniker Auntie wa Harrier, claiming that — despite swearing off cars in favor of bikes — she fit the aesthetic perfectly.
Carol’s personality attracts rumors faster than Kitengela buildings collect dust. Over the years the gossip has been growing so absurd it has nearly mythologized my still-living still-breathing sister. Carol, when she deigns to return to the country, pays no mind to these tales safe to spare a wry smile before she heads out on her evening jog leaving me to stream season two of younger.
However, one story about her has begun spreading steadily in our little metropolis-cum-village. Carol has taken up a rather interesting relationship with a much, much younger man.
"Millie, there is only one thing to it: Gen Z men go to therapy."
This was all she said about the relationship to me. Carol is a very private person. Private, not secretive, but this is how we know this particular tale is very much true. His name is Dylan, a sound engineer. This is all we've been told as a family to satiate our own overwhelming curiosity. Before we can ask any more questions, off she goes: to run, or biking or on some other recently-acquired hobby.
"But what is progress Millie, if Mzee Josphat can carry on with a slew of 20-year-olds and not one eyelid will bat, but let me try it and I am apparently robbing the cradle?"
A philosopher, my sister. This is what we have to work with; off-hand musings punctuated by eye-rolls. I've yet to meet this Dylan, he has no social media presence, though he does photography well, judging from what I can see of the portraits Carol seems to be making. I've heard some of his work too, tracks he produces: a mellow sound, almost an underwater element with sudden notes of clarity that seem to pull the sound from under itself.
"Freedom Millie. That's the first thing. That's the only thing."
She said this fiercely one evening while holding a cup of tea in one hand a slight frown indenting her forehead. She does that, thinks for a long while before emerging from the silence with a spoken conclusion entirely divorced from context. With Carol, understanding will come later, what matters is listening.
What started off as a fling is now inching towards a one-year anniversary. I long-stopped asking questions about the whole thing having accepted that it was not my place. To be perfectly honest, I'm quite amused by all the fuss it's causing.
Carol is right, where is the easy nonchalance that greets Mzee Josphat's own little adventures? But alas, progress is a square wheel, slowly, awkwardly but steadily moving forward.
In any case, this particular saga has made watching younger that much better; life has imitated art. I'm on season 6 now and as I follow along, I chuckle slightly to myself.
I happen to have stumbled on the news that Carol intends to move-in with this man she's seeing and will make the announcement tomorrow. I raise my wine glass in an imaginary toast:
Because freedom is the only thing
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