During our childhood, many people who did not know us personally usually thought that we were twins, because of the love we shared and the way we did practically everything together. Then whenever we made it known to those people that you were two years older than me, we would cackle with laughter at their surprise.
It was not that we were identical in our looks, but it was the way we acted, the way we seemed to have a telepathic understanding of ourselves, that made these assumptions about us possible.
But our parents never saw the bond between us that way. They saw me as a failure—a dent in the stellar image of the Ụwaonye family. They made me feel useless, unwanted, and unloved. Once when you were in school, and I failed to get admission into school after my first trial, father had called me an ‘incurable imbecile, without a future.’ He had listed your achievements to me, asking me if I was worthy of being called your brother.
So, silently, and without meaning to, I developed a latent jealousy for you, and I wanted to best you in any way I can. When you graduated with a second class lower, I vowed that I would make a first class. That way, I reasoned, I would flaunt it in the face of our parents—and yours, of course—to regain my glory.
I did make the first class, and I did flaunt my results as I wanted. And I could see that our parents had grudgingly accepted that something good could come from me. But it was your reaction that shocked me the most. You were elated! You had hugged me so tightly that I felt my ribcage crushing under the pressure of your arms, and you had said, “Yes, that’s my brother! I knew you would do better than I did! I’m so happy!”
How were you not able to see that I wanted to spite you? I had failed to meet your eyes, for fear that you would see the guilt written in my eyes like the biblical writing on the wall.
Somkene, I started like this because I want you to know that although I was jealous of you, I never really intended to hurt you. I was simply trying to make our parents understand that I had something to offer too.
And certainly I never intended to steal your woman. But when I met Mmachi when you brought her to our house to meet our parents, I had fallen in love with her instantly. I didn’t want her to know, neither did I want to spoil your relationship, but I found that the more I saw her with you, the more the old jealousy I felt for you rose again.
Then one day when I was talking to her, she had asked me why I hadn’t told her that I was in love with her. I was surprised and asked her how she knew. She smiled and said, “Love never hides.” Then she told me that she wasn’t in love with you. In her own words: “Your brother is nice, sweet and generous, but I don’t feel attracted to him. At least not in that way.”
I had given a small smirk and slowly we started our own secret relationship. I remember when you used to come to me to complain that she had changed, that you suspected that she was dating someone else. I had been afraid you would find out just by looking through me, but you didn’t. You trusted your little brother.
Then she had gotten pregnant. That was when we decided to tell you about it. At this juncture, I also want you to know that she never did what she did because you were on a wheelchair. She had the utmost respect for you. It was just that… Anyway, it was on that day that you lashed out on me for the first time in your life. You had said, among other things, that I was a parasite, who hid under your skin to steal the things that were precious to you.
Then you had turned to Mmachi and had coldly said, with the quantity of venom in your voice to kill a man: I’ve always known that every woman was either a Jezebel or a Delilah, but you are both!”
We had left your house then and had gotten married two months later. In the fifth month of our marriage, she lost the pregnancy. I remember feeling like karma had come for us. She had cried bitterly and had felt so guilty for what she did to you—what we did to you—that she considered coming back to you to apologize again. I knew that it was not necessary, but I couldn’t shake off the feeling that maybe my sins had caught up with me.
Somkene, not every woman is a Jezebel, not every woman is a Delilah. Mmachi certainly isn’t one of those. Yes, she cheated on you, but she wasn’t yours. Some women are Marys, some are Rahabs, some are Deborahs and Miriams, but to me, Mmachi is an Esther. She has saved me from the pit of self doubt, jealousy and the overwhelming feeling of failure.
I miss you, my big brother, and I know that this sounds cliché, but I’m sorry. I’m sorry for hurting you, I’m sorry for breaking your heart, and most especially, I’m sorry on behalf of my wife.
She currently is pregnant again and would deliver in the next two months. I ask for your forgiveness and I really hope you forgive me, because we have a favour to ask of you. We want you, Somkene, to be the godfather of our child.
Will you, please?