Do you know that I cried for a whole week the first time you went to boarding school? The ugly kind of crying that Jesus loves, the one where your nose runs with longer streaks than those of your tears and there is no shame felt whatsoever? Why? Because I needed God to watch over you for me. I was afraid. Afraid of how the world would treat you there. Every day I prayed that God gives you good friends. That your basin never bursts, or your uniforms be stolen at the hanging lines because, Susanna, those were my fears throughout my days in boarding school. These fears terrified me by day and visited me in the form of nightmares by night.
I prayed that you may find favor in the eyes of the cooks and teachers, but especially the cooks. Because the food in that boarding school will never be enough. I also prayed that the prefect’s hands never move anytime they wanted to write you in the list of wrong doers. But I was pleasantly surprised when mama said that on visiting day you had been too happy when saying your goodbyes to her. In fact, she confided with me to having felt a bit dejected that day. It was like you did not mind her returning home so that you could get back to your own affairs in boarding school. But that news made me sleep better at night and breathe easier during the day. Because my mother’s child was happy. And safe.
Do you remember attending my graduation while sick with scabies? And each of us had to walk at the pace of a tortoise so that you could keep up. Even with me hobbling like a calf on those ridiculously high heels? The way you were frowning with discomfort in all those pictures and even the ones in which you were not frowning, you looked like a kid who has been denied a cookie and was about to let out a piercing, hiccup-y cry? I saw beyond your discomfort that day. What mattered is that you showed up at my graduation. Whatever face you wore does not count, because hey, it wasn’t a modeling event or something! What I am trying to say is that family always shows up. Whether invited or not. Bedridden or not.
Do you remember telling me that Peris is your favorite sibling? Sue, that is the day I learned what a bad one you are. What about me, Little Sister? What about me? What about all the chocolate and ice cream I’ve lived all my life bribing you with? And those dresses, beautiful dresses I pass down to you or buy for you? What is a bribe if it cannot even buy me popularity with my youngest sibling? I digress. We were talking about Peris, weren’t we?
Always listen to what she has to say. First, because that is what is expected of normal people -to listen to their firstborns. And secondly because the day you see a nice dress on the shelf of the shop and your wallet happens to be crawling in the stinky mud of poverty Peris is more likely to save you from it than the rest of us are. She is always moneyed. And very generous too. And she knows people who know people in high places too. Therefore, do not be afraid of being a little mischievous.
I’ve always wondered if you all see the way Duncan is ever quiet, always going about his business without looking over his shoulder? Ever wondered why that is so? It is because he has nothing to hide. His faith and beliefs have found a resting place. May you too find the same or even better. You may never know it but despite coming out as aloof to many, Duncan loves you. For God’s sake, he calls you Suzzie. The rest of us, he’d probably never bother to shorten our names even if we were called Salmonella or Dichlorophenol-indo-phenol. See, Duncan never speaks much but the day he does, let your ear be inclined in his direction. And most importantly, love him passionately. The day anyone ever threatens or touches the skin on you, call him. Bang his phone with endless calls and ‘please call me back’ text messages. I can assure you that he will sue the last coin out of your persecutors’ asses and thereafter punch their guts all the way down Timbuktu valley. They’ll literally be begging to meet with their maker by the time he is finished with them.
Do you remember telling me how you do not like John very much? How you both argue over food, TV, and even friends? Look, baby, he means well and you’re going to see it when you’re much older. He is a man of few demands and rarely pushes things. Again, you may not see it now because he is young like yourself. Always call to ask how his day went and thereafter tell him about yours. He might pretend not to be listening, but I know he is. The guy has won a million accolades for eavesdropping.
Also, remember to ask him for money when you are broke. That guy’s negotiating skills beat those of Kofi Annan. He is the reason why the rest of us are wallowing in poverty, so he better be willing to share some of the pounds off gold and flesh he has robbed us. In case, he tries to say no, tell him he is your favorite brother. Tell him that he is more handsome than Brad Pitt and more bad-ass than Schwarzenegger. He likes the Schwarzenegger reference very much. Of course, he will make a clicking sound in pretend agitation but will still give you the money. Also, love him. Beneath that facade of toughness lies a tender soul that loves beyond limits. If a girl tries to break his heart, I am bestowing upon you, the powers to track her down and deal with her mercilessly. I solemnly promise to help in burying the evidence.
I do not know what to tell you about myself because again, this is me we are talking about. I’m always afraid of having expectations of other people. But I can tell you one thing, call on me if anyone ever tries to make you feel small. Or breaks your heart without a formula. And hey, rarely is there a formula when it comes to getting your heart broken. But pray do tell me when it hurts too bad. I will offer their incisors to Amadioha. And you may not know it, but I hear that Amadioha is the great God to whom all people with flawless skin pray to. Anyways, I’m kidding. Just do this one thing for me, love me unconditionally because I know that I am not the easiest person around to love. That, plus simply being your beautiful and authentic self will make me happy. Infinitely and incomparably happy.
Lastly, baby, learn to forgive and to let go of things that take your peace away. Do it as early as now if you can. Personally, I wish I did. See, mine has always been a small heart that hemorrhages profusely when poked slightly even by a blunt stick. Mine is a heart that when done wrong, takes the pain and shame of the wrong, bathes in it a million times, turns it upside down, inside out until the pain becomes a second skin. It is not a good thing, Susanna. It is not. With 4 elder siblings and 2 parents, and an unforgiving world out here, you will need to forgive almost as many times as you breathe. Because rarely will we always see things as you do. Also, much to your chagrin, we might correct you too many times for your liking. We also might never approve of your decisions especially when they seem to mirror our past mistakes. But, may I break it down for you baby. Truth is, we do not want you to make the same mistakes we made. The simple thought of it scares the daylights out of the 6 of us. So, remember to remind us politely when we become overbearing. Because, sincerely, we are only trying to learn the balance between letting you make your own mistakes and not repeating the ones we made.
Susanna, in case you forget everything I’ve said, always remember that you are loved. Unconditionally and wholly. It is the only thing that matters on the bleak days.
Have you checked out the latest video on 5 lessons I’ve learnt in my twenties? No? Then click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FgKKJ5K6sk&t=485s and share your thoughts on the same!
Remember to Love harder and Laugh even louder this week!