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My Younger Brother

“If your younger brother becomes the head of the family when your alive, what would you do?”

We kept staring at each other, as we tried to hold on to the broken bond, that linked our umbilical cords together with our mother’s. It took all I had to tame the excitement of bursting into tears of … sorrow—right in front of the person who took my place.

“Tobiloba.”

“This is too much … your mother and I haven’t spent the money you sent last week. Ehen, eleyi po o. Your child will take care of you … ose omo mi. You’ll continue to be head, not the tail … omo a toju iwo na…”

My father kept praising my younger brother (his last born), who was recently appointed as the CEO of Heritage Bank. Though his words sounded natural, I could feel the sacarsm in his lines—it sounded like a secret message with an open delivery.

Unlike Esau, I didn’t sell my birthright, but Tobi practically reserved the right to use this right. We technically seek his permission to hold family meetings, funds for family gatherings, and couldn’t reach consensus without his consent—who am I to do so? I’m just the rude boy they couldn’t reason with, like the only wildflower in our garden of roses.

“That reminds me, Egbon, please manage this token, I’ll see you some other time. I have a lot on my desk…”

He finally spoke up, and looked down on me. These words made me feel what the 11 brothers of Joseph felt, when they bowed before him. I was dumbfounded, and at the same time excited. I couldn’t reject nor accept it.

“No …yes … than-ks … I’m … o-ka-y.”

On the long run I had to recount our childhood experience, how our fortune almost added weight before this division…

*************************

Like other happy families, we grew up in harmony and lived in unison. In the morning, we devoted ourselves to the principles of my father, but tried not to end up like him (my father). Right from inception, we’ve always despised the way we were treated during extended family gatherings, and blamed it on my father’s misfortune. We thought if he had studied hard like his siblings, we would at least be like them.

This unity in reasoning made us united. On days like this when our blood was stronger than water, we planned a well planned future better than the one my father planned for us. We didn’t want to beg for scraps of food from our mates’ tables, like we did. We wanted to show our extended family and the world at large what we’re capable of doing, make them beg at our feet, and even turn the table against all odds. Ironically, what made us began to kill us slowly.

Success gradually became a weed of which we couldn’t control the intoxication. We got addicted to it, and all that mattered was winning. It got to a point that we were envious of each other’s success, though we seemed to care less about it … till Tobi started saying God forbid when I say I’m going to bring him to spotlight, when I dwell among kings. I always took it lightly and blamed his immaturity for his stupidity. Little did I know that I was dinning with the devil.

Within a twinkle of an eye—as fate would have it—he had an easy ride to limelight, while I was struggling. I was indeed happy for our family, but my parents complicated my world problems by evaluating our success on the scale of preference, just like my father’s family did. I thought our dreams would finally come true, but reality finally dawned on me…

*********************

“Daddy Daniel! Daddy Daniel!”

The voice of my wife suddenly snapped me out of the hyponisis and brought me back to life. After that incident, I decided to trace my lost steps, and see where I’d gone wrong, and tried to figure why I’m unfortunate like we think my father was. At 40, I’m a junior lecturer with unpaid salaries, and had lived my life up to this moment in the shadow of my brother.

Everything took a different twist and turn, and in unity we found disparity and unintentional oppression. I don’t want my children to wake up on the other side of life already defeated like I was. So I called my two sons, like Israel called his grandchildren (Manasseh and Ephraim).

I made them feel the sorrow in my voice, and the greif engraved in my heart. In meekness, and as still as the wind, I silently asked the eldest:

“If your younger brother becomes the head of the family when your alive, what would you do?”

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