I was raised with…questions. Questions either left unanswered or answered too casually, suspiciously casually.
My name, Taye. I never questioned that until I was three and I realised that every other Taye I knew had a Kehinde. And so my ever curious mind asked my mother “where’s my Kehinde?” For a second, she looked shocked, and then she tried to mask that with light amusement. “He’s travelled to London” was her offhanded answer. But she had that tone in her voice, that “this matter ends here tone” I knew too well.
I remember wondering why he got to travel to London while I stayed in this country. I remember even being mad at him for not bothering to call or ‘ask of me’. I also remember trying to communicate with him, whispering his name on nights I felt cold and lonely. I remember once my mother heard me, and she vigorously shook me and beat me to a pulp( and my mother works hard, don’t even try to mess with those calluses) before warning me that never again should I try that in her house. My friend once said that hell is enough incentive to believe in God. Needless to say, that was the last day I called his name-out loud.
It didn’t take me too long to realise their story lacked any sort of credibility. There was no way I had a twin in London, for goodness sake we couldn’t even afford Coke on Christmas day! They could have at least been a bit more creative with that one.
When I finally realised the truth, through some twist of fate that involved soup, tears and my mother beating her sister up; it was…scary. Cold. No not the soup, that was quite hot I think.
I’d always imagined our reunion, I’d played out the scene thousands of times in my head. Everything would be in slow motion, and we’ll slowly run into each…anyway. It was odd to discover I’d been trying to talk with the dead.
People always ask me where my Kehinde is, and that question is always closely followed with how I feel about having a dead twin. In fact, I’ve heard the question so many times its amazing I keep hearing it. It’s like a bitter pill I have to swallow each time I get closer to someone. Now I just try to casually drop it somewhere in the conversation before they ask like “Hey! I’m Taye, that’s a nice shirt you have on, Kehinde’s dead, where did you get your shirt from?” My subtlety is a constant source of amazement for me. Seriously though, I guess I don’t really think too much about it. I wouldn’t let myself. Its feels really weird, knowing there would have been two of me. I’m left with a lot of what-ifs.
Here I am, trying to explain and pick at my emotions till I get some sort of meaning.
Well, most twins are opposite of each other so he must be perfection personified. Everything I’m not. I guess you can’t really miss what you never had. But just like Gatsby and the green light you can keep reaching and create such an unreasonable fantasy about your unattainable dream. It’s so much easier to pretend like he never existed, as much as my name can let me.
Sometimes though, when I pause enough to hear, I feel a sense of incompleteness which I do a good job of trying to convince myself has nothing to do with my lost half. No really, it doesn’t.