Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Thing About Being Clexane's Sister

The thing about being Clexane's sister is neither here nor there. It is not a thing that can be easily summed up because it is this hydra-headed being that I have to live with. No, it is not Clexane himself that is the hydra-headed thing... no no. It is the several iterations of his presence in my life as my immediate older brother. All my life, I've had to look at him, and up to him as the example to follow. Even when he was not the best example, he was simply the perfect one for me. 

Today, my brother turns 40; and even though we were raised by parents who constantly drummed it into our heads "Birthdays are no achievements" I can't shake it out of my head that THIS is a frigging big deal. When one of your brothers dies at 37, you begin to see life in a completely different light. You start counting every second of your future because you know, I mean really really know, that there really isn't a tomorrow. So you treat every day like a gift that it is... But before I start sliding down that slippery slope of corny bullshit, let me tell you some awesome and not terribly awesome thing about my brother, Tunji, and why the fact that it's his 40th birthday makes me want to bust a move.

 One day, when I was a little doting sister, Tunji called me and said let's play a game. He held up two batteries and said, 'you lick one. I lick the other'. Simple game right? And I wouldn't have passed up any opportunity to hang out with my brother, but I was slightly untrusting, so I said, you go first. So he did - pressed his tongue. Nothing happened. So, I followed suit and stuck my tongue, without restraint or hesitation on the battery he handed me. The shot of electricity that went through me was unbelievable. By the time I recovered, I looked over at where my assailant was standing, (or rather, doubled over) in laughter. He laughed and laughed and laughed. That day, I learned two lessons. Don't just take anything someone hands you, hook line and sinker - ask questions, test it, check again, check again until you're absolutely sure. The second lesson was learning the difference between a 12 volt and a 9 volts battery.

The thing about being Clexane's sister is understanding that he actually cares. I can clearly state without a doubt that my brother loves me. As weird as it sounds since we fought all the time. I always believed he always had my back. I was so heavily reliant on him that the one time he didn't, I found myself drowning - saved only by the realisation that life isn't like that. Life is swim or sink. So, I swam, and he was there at shore, waiting to haul me in. Proud. But how did I become so heavily dependent on my brother? When I went away to Ilorin, he was there. At the time, he was doing a remedial program to get into Uni at my secondary school, so I got to see him regularly. By the time he got admitted to University of Ilorin, he always came to see me at the home I was staying. When he didn't get a chance to come to the house, he would stop by my school - armed with an envelope of crisp 100 Naira notes. My brother ALWAYS gave me money. Who shares their measly pocket money with a sister who was getting her own? Yup... Clexane!

 When I worried about the fact that I had not chosen the subjects to register for my SSCE, he swiftly advised me to drop Yoruba, and use the space for something more useful. At the time, there was a threat that if you didn't do at least one Nigerian language, your results won't be released. My brother told me (in less colourful terms) that it was a truck load of horse dung. He was right. I watched him graduate from University and get his Microsoft Certification in the most impressive way. He studied like he was being chased by the demon of poverty. He has this incredible thirst for success. I have never seen him fail at anything he sets his heart to. Engineering. Attempting ACCA, then Project Management. Haaa, he is dogged (and annoying) and... okay hold on, let me address the annoying bits.

Right after secondary school, I was enrolled for the Cambridge A-Level exams. When the results came out, I failed resoundingly. The failure was epic! I cried so hard that my parents said okay no point crying, come and attempt it again. So, they registered me in another prep school which was twice as expensive as the first one. I sat on my bed grateful for a second chance... just so grateful. Guess who came in to shatter my recently found peace? Yup! Tunji. "I hope you know the money they're using to pay for this your second round could have been used to buy Mummy a new car" Those words resonated through me that year till I passed the exams in flying colours. Talk about tough love.
But love me he does. As brash and as troublesome as he is. And he really is troublesome. I have just learned to tune him out when he gets too much. When people complain to me about how he stresses them out, or how he calls them incessantly to follow up on a project or an assignment, I laugh. They haven't learned the art of filtering him out. You take the good. You leave the wahala. You remember he has a good heart. Because at the bottom of all of his nuances, his crase, his dogma, is his heart. His good good, underrated heart. I have watched him grow into family life. Caring about his wife and kids and knowing that they come first. I have watched him change from a super arrogant, self-assured cocky "I can do it by myself" guy to this cool patient person who observes in silence. Recently he was in a group chat with some people and someone went off on him. When my friend told me about this encounter, I asked, "What did Tunji say in response?" Expecting to hear how he answered the person fire for fire, I was laughing. My friend said "Clexane didn't say anything". I didn't believe. Maybe she didn't know who she was talking about. So I asked him. "Ngbo, some Ilorin people were insulting you on WhatsApp. What did you say?" He said "nothing." Me: "Nothing ke?" Him: "Wo, I don't have time to be going back and forth with people who choose to revel in ignorance" I was shocked. Who was this mature guy suddenly taking the high road. Yup! Clexane!
So what is it about being Clexane's sister? It is knowing that you have this guy who is always there for you. This guy who has known you all your life - flaws, strengths, joys, who will always give you advice. (Whether I take it or not. Lol . He still gives it, because he just can't leave his baby sister to drive herself inside gutter.) I have met people who've seen me and screamed... "You're Clexane's sister" and sometimes I don't know whether to hide or to say errr, yes! But we look so strikingly alike there's really no hiding. I'm so happy he is turning 40. I am sure I'm happier than him gan sef... I have been waiting for this day for three years! In my head, if he can make it till 40... he would have done something magnificent for me. Because, after Sage died, I was on a permanent watch for Tunji's life. A few month's after Sage left us, I saw some pills on the counter in Tunji's kitchen and I went full panic mode. Google. Pills ke? Is he sick? how long has he been sick? Didn't he plan to tell me? Are they hiding something from me? Doctor Google didn't make it easier for me. I was afraid to ask the owner of the pills, because I didn't want to be called a worrywart. So, I started looking for excuses to visit all the time. I believed that if I had my eyes on him regularly, he won't just die on me and leave me empty. And he didn't die. He is still alive. And today, he is 40. He is alive thousands and thousands of miles away from me , with a 17-hour time difference. But he is alive. I can pick up my phone and hear his voice. I can call him on Skype and see his gloriously full head of hair (Which I remain eternally jealous of) I can pick up my WhatsApp and read his chats. And just knowing that he is there, as he always has been for me... is EVERYTHING.
Birthdays are no achievements, someone said. That person lied. Your birthday is a BIG DEAL! I love you to eternity, Adetunji TaiWAN! Lol Lol If I could choose another brother, I'd choose you over and over and over and over again. My life would be boring and uneventful without someone who fights with me, (used to buy me phone credit! Dammit! I hate being an adult now.) argues with me, worries about me, believes he always knows better than me, (lol even though I'm a pretty smart cookie) believes in me, and ultimately loves me.

Happy birthday, to the one who will never let us take pictures together without him scowling. Happy birthday to the one who derived joy from always scaring me shitless. Happy birthday to the one whose happiness over my successes fills me with so much warmth, I start to think, maybe I'm not so bad. Happy birthday to the 'tall' one in the family. Lol Country of the blind tingz. Happy birthday my darling. Words can never quantify how I feel about you. Crazy and all.