This month is a puzzle. A month of love. A month wrung of all financial gains possible, thanks to reinventions and effective commercialization popularized expressions of love. Don’t be fooled. A girl likes to go out, have at some chocolate and at some good dose of sentimentalism.

But this month, for some reason this year, highlights love differently, even a different kind of love. I lost him this month, a loved one, a brother just a few years older than me. Five years older, to be precise. When I was younger, five years seemed like the ascent to Kilimanjaro: majesty, wisdom, heroism — stuff of worship. Of course age gaps still bare some of these attributes, like experience, which is born of time. I still have a big brother whose toes I am careful not to step too much on, and a big sister. The plight of a last-born. (Do I hear a witness?) I get to see them and hang out with them — not as regularly as I believe we’d all like to, but we do.

But I do no get to hang out with him, my departed brother. In a way I am — dare I say — glad that he was spared the challenges of the adult life. But then again who am I to assume that our challenges would be his? I would have loved to see him grow to his prime.

Bro, I wonder about the profession you would have taken, whether you would have been a dad, what kind of husband you would have been, what kind of big brother, what your social media page would look like, what gadgets you’d have. Can you believe how key mobile phones and the internet are to our lives right now? I still remember our landline number (22521*) and how we’d pick at the dials with the biro tube when dad finally locked it in the wooden box with the glass lid. Haha! We were good. Little rugrats.

I miss you. This month of love for me was for you above everything and everyone else. I’m sure St. Valentine (who tha …?) did not mean it for an agape kind of love, but I choose to remember you, as I always do, and to celebrate you.

I got stuck in the 90s, right at the brink in 99, because that’s when you left. You never crossed over with me to the 2Ks. I still feel guilt when I bomp my head to B.I.G mixes as opposed to Tupac’s. We were West Coast, ride or die, but Biggie was smooth too, wasn’t he? I just wonder, still, at how much bragging he did about the ladies … let me stop while I’m still ahead.

You left with a world I have never recovered. I do not know who else I can synthesize art the way I used to with you. I have a couple of hits in my playlist I wish I could go over with you. I wish I could weigh the new school and old school with you. I wonder if dab would make sense to you. Or carrot pants.

They laid you down in a grave now very far away from most of us, but I carry you with me everywhere I go. I could not process that we’d leave you there, alone, every night and day, until it came to me that we are not flesh and soil, but the souls in the bodies we inhabit.

I want to bond and hangout with you. Tell me where I can, because that grave is a lie. Suddenly it doesn’t sound too crazy to give up our bodies for science. But I also recognize that mourning is for the living, not for the departed. Maybe in my time, I’ll also let them as they will. Because I too will be gone.

So we finally moved to another town but it does not matter. You are etched in our hearts forever.

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