I entered a room with many people dressed in black and, crying through my thick black scarf, I saw the picture of my father on the table. My face became red and my eyes became so puffy from crying that I couldn’t open them. After a while I couldn’t hear my own crying; I could only feel my mother’s hand on my head.
For weeks afterward, people came to our house to visit us, but I felt alone. During this time, my older sisters became closer to me than before. We went everywhere together, discussed everything, and made plans together. We had good times and got to know one another better.
After my father’s death, my oldest sister told me she was responsible for me because she was older. She cared about me; she was mature and successful and I listened to her. She had a bachelor’s degree in computers and worked as a general manager in an office, earning much money for the family. I wanted to grow up and become like her. She knew how to talk to all kinds of people regardless of whether they had a higher education or were illiterate. If you want to be a good communicator, she told me, you have to learn about what interests people.
I felt less alone with someone nearby to help me solve problems the way my father used to. For each decision, I waited for her guidance. She influenced me so much by her behavior, such as not fighting with my siblings. She paid for my school and advised me about problems with teachers. She was like a god and I listened to her messages each time. She controlled everything at home so each person in our family didn’t feel lacking in anything.
After several months this changed. She was angry. She fought about little things. She was having problems with her job. Finally she told me that she wanted to leave the house because she couldn’t control things as well as before and not long after that she moved to Sudan. I waited for her to email me, or maybe send money for the house or my university. I was confused about what happened. It was depressing, hearing no news from my sister.
I really needed money. I couldn’t go to university without money for transportation. I couldn’t shop the way I wanted like before. Finally I received an email from her. She couldn’t help me anymore.
After thinking about this for a long time, I decided I must find a full-time job. I searched, and asked my friends and teachers to help me find a good job. After three months, I found an office job. Now I earn my own way. Working and studying was hard at first but it gets better.
As result, now I support myself and make my own decisions. Sometimes I may be wrong, but I am happy that I can make decisions without relying on anyone. I miss my father very much, and I am sad that my sister is so far away. But I have learned that I can solve my problems and support myself. Sometimes, losing something in your life causes you to know your abilities and grow up. I now understand the meaning of independence.
Photo: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images