Dear Brother

I reconnected with an old friend recently, the type that goes way back to preteen years. Maybe it is a bit more intricate because he became my boyfriend just before I turned nineteen. Regardless, it was a super significant catch up for me because not only was he the most charming young man I ever grew fond of, but also one of the few people in my life I can kick it and reflect way back to fond childhood memories with, with ease. He was very suave for his age. He was the type that was smooth with the ladies before they had even discovered that they were. He had a mature gentleman’s way about him. An early bloomer.

The significance of this old friend, however, is way beyond our short-lived relationship. See, back in the day when most kids my age used to drink, dance and hang out in night clubs till dawn, my sister and I remained restricted at home under the watchful eyes of my parents. The truth is neither we nor our brothers were allowed partying out late, but they kept sneaking out with my dad’s car. It used to be quite a spectacle. My brothers would wait till my parents retired to bed, and then ten minutes later they emerged creeping out of their bedroom, dressed to kill, and smelling it too. One thing that would not miss in their possession is a can of scented spray. Once or twice my sister volunteered to help push the car through the driveway and out of the compound. We the girls however never made it out with them. Once at their destination our friendship circles would overlap. They would then return before dawn, waking us up by tapping on our window pane so that we could quietly open the front door for them. I witnessed and abetted these adolescent mutinies during my high school holidays.

Apparently on one particular evening, this old friend of mine briefly shared a word or two with one of my brothers – the one I was closest to – who used to spoil me silly (that is, when he was not being overly annoying). It turned out to be approximately 48 hours before this brother of mine passed away. I battled for a long time trying to figure out what the purpose of his death served. I had been taught that all things work together for good. There was no much fruit from that mental tussle, and so I have been resigning it into God’s hands. It took me about a year to come to grips with the reality of this loss. I am not sure I totally have almost fifteen years later. I was away at school at the time. The incident proved so unbearable that the sequence of events of the dreadful weekend of his death, as narrated by those who were present, have never really registered. I guess part of me figured he is gone anyway, so how much good would going over the grueling details do?

It was always hard for me to find someone from his gang of friends I could sit down and debrief with. He was six years older. You see, the fact that my sister and I never hang out where most of our friends did made us a bit reclusive, and so our brothers’ lives outside our home and school were more or less foreign to us. In fact, it was only after the death of my brother that I realized that they both drunk alcohol. To make it worse we learned their drinking through an acquaintance, who thus proved that he knew better about them than we did. It took quite a debate for us to swallow what is now seemingly an inconsequential reality. Back then, like now, no child of our home was allowed to have alcohol in the house.

So you can imagine my state when this old friend crossed my path afresh, and getting to lengthy conversations about the present and the years gone by. I could not help but bring my late brother up. It was both sweet and sour. I get to have bits of closure yet got to know my late brother better at the same time. A bit of a forward-rewind, if you like. This friend goes on to explain that his death made families around our small town get closer and grow more appreciative of each other. His mother specifically had always thought of my brother as a golden child, a child any mother would want to have. The effect of my brother’s death compelled her to reach out to her own children, opening up for more dialogue and bridging gaps that existed between the parents and their kids. He said such reactions swept across a few homesteads. I do no want to ask whether that was what his departure was for. At the end of the day, it truly is in God’s hands.

You see, he was well known within our hometown, of course not the entire town, but more in the middle social class because of my parents’ associations, colleagues and networks. He was definitely a star in primary school. He always had top marks and held first position in all exams, except for one, or maybe two. He was smart, talkative, handsome, charming and had a goofy sense of humor. He would look for manual labor and work hard at it just to buy personal items that were important to him. He had fine taste in clothes. He and my other brother had improvised a muscle work out bench in one corner of the back yard, and work out he did. He had such good taste that he advised my mum on house decor. He was the head-prefect – a very powerful position – until he decided to quit for fear of distraction from his studies. He played in the big leagues of high school basketball. He was the embodiment of a child of promise, the apple of many families’ eyes. He was the academic standard most students were measured by. He suffered some setbacks later in high school and college but still, it seemed, it was only a matter of time before his star shot up again, and soared higher. He left too soon.

Dear Brother, I miss you so much. I often wonder what you would have to say about the situations in my life right now.

Like many big brothers, he was my warrior and my pain. He could dot on me one time then say the most irking thing later. He pumped my sense of worth like no one else ever could, him and the rest of my family of course. He was my hero. I think my self esteem took a bit of a plunge when he left.

I love you, bro. And I miss you!

We used to have so much fun together.

He exposed to me to the world around me within the bounds of our home, especially in matters music, trending clothing and dance styles (all that mattered to youngsters back then). A lot of things I brag to know from the past was taught by him. He showed me how the idea of making art can be accessible, a possibility. That I can actually practice it. In the home of an accountant and a more choleric mother this was a welcome wonder, like the answer to a question before it is asked. I remember looking at some of his sketches and going like, ‘ALA! This is a doable thing after all!’ To date, friends are astounded at the contradiction that is me – my lack of first hand exposure to the outdoor experiences of youth, and my tangible know-how of various issues that are incomprehensible to hermits. I used to look a bit like a nerd … but then again not so much. See?

I normally do not think much of blog posts that use phrases like “This is a hurried post” as an excuse to write and post something substandard, but here I am today. Mine might not really be hurried but it is definitely written in a bit of a struggle. The environment is less than ideal for me. Not quiet enough. I am in my friend’s home for a few days in transit to my hometown for Christmas holidays. It has kids and so never really quiet enough, unless at night, of which a girl needs to sleep. So I guess I am telling myself first before anyone else that my writing is more likely not to be of the standard I would prefer, but I felt compelled to write anyhow. There is a bubble of emotion inside I would like to tap into. I hope my resolve suffices.

To all the fallen heroes of the world, we miss you. You are irreplaceable.

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