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There’s no other love like the love for a brother.  There’s no other love like the love from a brother. 

-Terri Guillemets

I love my brother.

For as long as I can remember, it was, ‘Mary, change that radio channel, the music is too worldly’ or ‘your head is too big’ or ‘you’re a goat’.

That’s not why I love him.

Once upon a time, I was 7 and he was 13 and he would use me for karate practice. You see, my brother was very shy and didn’t hang out much with other children. He was the kid that would take his food and run into the room if there was a visitor. But his shyness didn’t extend to me.

One memory that stays fresh is the scar memory. We were playing catcher in the house. We weren’t allowed and I knew I was sure to get blamed for it because I got blamed for pretty much everything that went wrong. He was about to catch me and being close to the door, I tried to reach for the door knob and pass through at the same time. I succeeded in carving a shape very like the sharp end of the knob on my forehead. I bled like a stuck pig. He doesn’t remember. Even though I have the scar to prove it.

That’s not all he doesn’t remember.

He doesn’t remember the first time he ate cocoyam, it was supposed to be my first too. We decided to fry it and he volunteered to do the honours. He ended up eating half of it on the fire. I refused to eat out of annoyance and he still had the effrontery to make me go and buy him eggs to fry and eat with his fried cocoyam.

He doesn’t remember mistakenly giving me a black eye with the head of his belt; it hurt him more than it hurt me and he was nice for days afterwards. He doesn’t remember the fifty strokes he administered on my not so little thieving palm. He doesn’t remember my first days at school; secondary and university. On both occasions he pointed me in the direction of the road and told me to ‘go and find my mates.’ He doesn’t remember finding my diary when I was 14 and showing it to my mum (there was a lot of x-rated stuff in it). He doesn’t remember burning 110 of my mills and boon novels when I was 15.

He doesn’t remember a lot of things.

He doesn’t remember all the times I did something right or someone would compliment me and he would look at me like, ‘so what?’

That’s not why I love him.

Why do I love him? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I hear the pride in his voice when he introduces me to his friends as his sister; or because every time I achieve something he calls my mum and mentions it in passing knowing she’ll call me and tell me what he said; or because he wants me to stay at his house whenever I visit home whether he’s there or not; or because he is willing to chauffeur me around in his car; or because no matter what I decide to do, he has my back.

Maybe it’s because he values my opinion more than he’ll ever admit: I teased him about wearing pams out once and the next day he wore shoes – we were just going to buy a usb cable for his phone – or because he sees the best and the worst in me and still forgives my repeated offences.

I wouldn’t have him any other way. Flaws and all, old-fashioned ideas and all, he is always there for me.

I have one brother.  And I love him very much.

For Onome. Happy Birthday.

Note: Bros mine, in case you read this, don’t call mummy. Call me and tell me you love me too.