I twist around on my new sister's bed, winded as if I had run all the way here from America. Inhale, I remind myself.
"He never told you that he had a child in America?" I want to add: That until I was twelve, the age you are now, he wrote to me? That for months beforehand he knew I was coming to Nigeria, and that I've been here, just kilometers away, for weeks already? Only, it comes out as, "Are you sure? He didn't tell you before?"
"No." She shakes her head, her eyes soft. She repeats: "I learned about you yesterday."
It's the logistics of the betrayal rather than the betrayal itself that stun me. I wonder how a twenty-six-year concealment of a whole daughter is even possible. It's quite a feat, even half a world away. I try to breathe, the thick Nigerian air a helpful reminder. Scoop it up, heavy and green, draw it in warm, circulate it through the blood and lungs, send it out cooler. Stay alive.
I leaf through Adanna's album, amazed at how she and I have always looked alike, from infancy onward, despite different mothers, and gradually the stitch in my side subsides.
I smile. I could almost swear that her baby pictures are mine. I too posed for the camera, mouth open in a silent, show-stopping exclamation of delight. I too was all brown eyes and blooming bud mouth.
On the fifth page I find an actual photo of me in front of the Joulu tree in my grandparent's living room. Like Adanna in her photos, I am dressed in red-stretch stirrup pants. A halo of tinsel laces my short Afro. I see another snapshot that I recognize from my mother's collection back home: Me piloting a shiny red tricycle in the driveway. Slowly I realize what I am seeing her photo album is a blend of her photos and mine. Our lives intertwined.