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My Brother and I

I woke to the sound of mother’s wail. which relative had died again?’ I wondered. Mother’s wail always had to do with relatives which we could hardly recall or ones we didn’t know. She’d start by saying, when one of us approached to console her, “You know Uncle James? He’s the one that died. I remember how he used to carry you around calling you his favorite”. And then she’d look at you wanting you to desperately play her game and in a bid to avoid the cold shoulder, you’d concur “Oh! Is it that Uncle James? He was such a nice man” and having played your part you could heave a sigh of relief and go about your house chores as mother would sniffle into silence, occasionally lamenting as how the world was such an evil place.

Mother’s wail was nothing new and Father always tried his best to cheer her up either by offering to handle a major part of the funeral or reminding her of the more responsibilities she had in being strong for the family. Yes, mother liked to be told that she was a pillar and that everything would go awry without her. And so mother’s wail meant someone had died; being in no particular hurry to go and do the necessary ritual, I laid a while longer trying not to relieve last night. His touch had been urgent, his strokes masterful and the entry had led me gasping for breath and even though I had initially tried to resist the feeling; I no longer could as my body incessantly betrayed me on his every touch.

“Is she still sleeping?” Mother’s wailing voice was now at my door forcing me to abandon my thoughts. Mother’s wail at my door could only mean that someone I really knew had died. “Elsie wake up and come and hear what the evil world has done” Mother’s knock at my door became more urgent since I had now taken to locking my door. A new thing that started happening quite recently. “What are you calling her for, Rose?” Hearing the panic in my Father’s voice alerted me that something was indeed wrong. Opening the door, I saw my mother’s face contorted into the worst form of agony. With one hand she made a sweeping direction towards my brother’s room. Eddie and I both stayed on the same floor with my parents having their bedroom downstairs. Was it Eddie who had died? I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind as if by doing so I’d wish whatever evil had happened away.

The door to Eddie’s room was opened and I could see Eddie’s feet hanging inches away from the chair he had used. My eyes traveled slowly up to the still open eyes and I screamed involuntarily. Father came to pull me away and I resisted. “Daddy let go of me!” I screamed Shocked at my attitude, father hurried instead to mother who appeared to have fainted. I was hardly aware of the happenings around me as I stood looking at Eddie. We had laughed together last night and although he had seemed nervous and worried about my health after I told him I was pregnant since I was a sickle cell carrier, nevertheless his touch had been more gentle and arousing. We had even made love till we heard the maids getting up and now here I was staring at his dead body. My hand went to my stomach unconsciously for I now pitied the ‘thing’ I was carrying. I loved Eddie but I didn’t know if I had the energy to love the one in my stomach. Perhaps we were wrong, perhaps we were destined for hell but as I walked away from my love’s body, I knew that finally the end had come….. for me!

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