Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Tribute To My Brother

He made me eat Key Soap. Remember Key Soap? Yeah, that one. Okay wait, let me give you some background to this story. You see, I loved sugar as a little girl. My definition of ‘enjoyment’ was drinking garri with sugar that I am allowed to scoop by myself. I would suck cube after cube and marvel at the beauty of this thing called life. My family knew. If I ended up with any meal that needed sweetening, they would sweeten it for me and watch me eat and take my plate to the kitchen. It was necessary ‘cos 3 seconds was all I needed to empty a container of sugar into my food. I wanted to grow up really bad and my primary motivation for that ambition was so that I could eat as much sugar as I wanted. 

 So when my brother told me Key Soap was sweet, you can understand that I was mighty excited. After eating the first slice, I looked at my brother who was watching me with a very wide grin, and said, “But dis tin nor sweet now?” (We speak pidgin at home). The mixture of soap and saliva was already creating thick lather in my mouth.
 “You need to eat more before the taste go comot.”
I ate some more, nothing, only lather. After a few slices, I abandoned the soap. The taste never came out. Obviously I didn’t die. The only thing shaken by that experience was the respect I had for my brother’s opinion. I mean, how could he not tell that Key Soap was not sweet?

You must understand while we are still on the subject, that I was not stupid oh. Far from it. It was just that I trusted my brother 100%. When I eventually found out that Key Soap was not sweet and infact was never meant to be eaten, I was heartbroken and genuinely dumbfounded. But as it is with children, all ill feeling faded as soon as I became involved in the next mischief.

As a young girl it took me a while to understand gender. I just knew there were big people and little people. The big people made all the rules and made us, the little people, do all sorts of things – make our beds, do dishes, wash other parts of our bodies apart from our stomachs, sleep in the afternoons, do our homework, BATH AT NIGHT and you know, carry out other really life threatening tasks.

The difference between my brother and I wasn’t immediately apparent to me. The result was a girl that didn’t really know she was one. Being my immediate senior, he was my default role model. He played football I did same, he climbed trees, I did too, infact higher, he dug the ground for earthworms to lure fish, I was right there beside him, he chased rats, I cheered him on; he tortured grasshoppers, I clapped with glee.

When he was shipped off to boarding school, I wondered how he would survive. I wondered because, you see, the boy was passionate about food. Not the cooking part mind you. I couldn’t wait for visiting day. When I saw someone with his type of head and a body that looked like a wireframe walk towards us, I thought I was going to faint. Both my parents were adamant in their resolve, despite the apparition standing before them, that he was going to remain in boarding school. I didn’t think he would cope. He did. Beautifully.

From my partner in crime, we became enemies by the time I started JSS 1. He was a boarder and behaved like one. I was a day student and didn’t understand or have to deal with the strict and regimented life of a military secondary school. Every time he came back for holidays, there would be new rules for me to obey. I didn’t like rules. As punishment, he would seize my snacks – sweets, buscuits, peanuts etc. and eat them before my very eyes. My goodness, I would bawl and shriek and dude won’t budge. Back then; it was my humble opinion that my brother was wicked. Pure, unadulterated wicked. I mean, what kind of brother eats his younger sister’s biscuit she just trekked a quarter of a kilometer to go and buy? You get? Thinking back now, he was just a very naughty senior and instead of crying I should have fought back and probably added a bite or two.

It’s been a few decades and a lot of water has passed under the bridge. Boys have become men and I have one of the finest for a brother. Sometimes when I think about my parents and how utterly devastating life is without them, I remember him and thank God for little mercies.

In the absence of my parents he has been the family’s default go-to person. As the only guy among six women, he could easily have been spoilt. He wasn’t. I am yet to come across anyone with such a fierce sense of responsibility. For someone who lives so far away, his commitment is unbelievable. Call him day or night, despite the time difference, he’ll pick up. Groggy, yes, but there anyway, asking his usual “What’s up?”

He has the latest update about every single one of us – siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins. Everyone. It's simply amazing.

I am usually the strong one, the one who says, ‘This is what we will do.” But when I think I am in over my head, he’s one of the few I can run to for help. And he always comes through.

Thank you Samuel Lucas. For the sacrifices you make everyday and the little things that you do, thank you. For your unbelievable thoughtfulness and your endless optimism, thank you. May you live to reap where you have sown and may your path be lined with all things bright and beautiful.

©Naomi Lucas

P.s - If you have a really amazing sibling and haven't taken time out to show love, I challenge you to do so. It's soul lifting...

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