I tap the corners of my photos, relieved to find myself. This is not America with its books and magazines and television shows and movies that refuse to reflect me, its glossy surfaces that for twenty-six years have been telling me I don't matter, no one needs my image. I have always been here in Africa. I exist.
"Yeah," I marvel, "Mom used to love to dress me in red." Adanna was mistaken. I was cherished, perhaps even longed for.
Now it is Adanna's turn to stare. "B-b-but," she stammers, "I was the one they loved to dress in red. These are my pictures."
She palms our images, her fingers the brown tributary linking the same face, same stubborn personality, fourteen years apart, half a world away. Her eyes train on mine, widen. "I found them in a drawer and just assumed..."
At my shaking head, she gasps. "All these years I thought these were me!"
The villagers look at my sister and me and start to cry. Time and again it happens. We are strolling down a village road at dusk, hand-in-hand, quiet, our feet red with dust, and some woman stops pounding yam in mid-thrust, the heavy wooden pestle suspended above her head, and drops her jaw.
"Chineke," she gasps, looking from Adanna to me to the sky, where Chineke resides. "Can she be mmo?" A ghost or an ancestral spirit reappeared from the land of the dead.
Adanna and I laugh, hurrying down the path before the others can hear her shouts to "Come see-o!" and run out of the house, wiping their hands on their bright, Dutch-printed wrappas, ululating like a wedding party.
Or we are lounging in the embrace of the giant iroko tree, chewing on bright mango pits and waiting for the afternoon heat to pass, and some distant-distant cousin will drive by in a battered Peugeot belching a halo of sour diesel and smack his long pink palm against his inky forehead.