I love my siblings. Love them to death. But it wasn’t always like this. Growing up, I hated my brothers’ guts. I mean, I loved them. Mostly because I had to. They were my brothers. I didn’t exactly have a choice. But they drove me crazy! Always picking on me. Locking me out of mischief because; a) I was a girl b) I was Dad’s favorite and c) I was always telling on them.
But with my stellar, non-mischievous track record, why wouldn’t I be Dad’s favorite? I suppose the boys had a teeny tiny point about me telling on them. But if you ask me, they brought it upon themselves – I wouldn’t have told on them if I was part of the mischief, now would I? And locking me out because I was a girl? How dare they? I could climb trees and torture cats just as well as they could! OK, I couldn’t, but still!
Come to think of it, I blame them squarely for the fact that I can’t climb a tree to save my life! They wouldn’t let me practice with them. They barred me from doing anything remotely fun. This one time, my brothers came home from boarding school singing Bob Marley’s ‘Buffalo Soldier’. That was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. And so I tried to learn the song, but I was accused of mimicry and banned from ever singing that song. The nerve! Like when did they patent a song they’d just heard on the radio?
To be fair, the boys got enough hidings for putting their baby sister in harm’s way. Anything that happened to me, the tiniest scratch on my knee was automatically their fault. As far as Dad was concerned, they were supposed to protect me, period.
This one time, we were playing outside. It was just before Christmas; I know this because the Christmas goat was lying somewhere in the corner of the compound, chewing its cud. I was maybe six. The game was centered around lions chasing the children while their mothers called out to them. You remember that game, right? So I was running, not really looking where I was going because the lion was gaining on me. Next thing I know, I was on top of the goat, and my face was right between the goat’s horns. A horn missed my left eye by a hair’s breadth – I still have a tiny scar to show for it! So there was a lot of blood (well, it seemed like a lot) and a whole lot of screaming. The hiding those boys received! I could hear the whacks over my own screams as Dettol met raw flesh.
It didn’t matter that there were other kids, or that it was an honest accident. I mean, if I were to apportion blame, I’d start with the guy who bought the goat, aka same guy who was delivering the punishment, aka Dad. But who cares about little details like those?
So yeah, I get it. They just got tired of taking the fall for everything. Although, many times, it was actually their fault. Like the time I asked them to turn on the light in my room because I couldn’t reach the switch. I was five, and terrified of darkness. The boys knew this. They should have just turned on the light for me. But they said no. So I went to my room, tried to get on a chair to reach the switch. I don’t know how, but the chair cut my foot pretty bad. I spared no details in recounting the story. And of course, they got what was coming to them.
Sometimes it was their fault, sometimes it wasn’t. Either way, they got a hiding. From where they were standing, I suppose it was better to take punishment for stuff that was actually their fault. So out of their fun games I stayed. They were determined to protect the hell out of me (read, their behinds). Sob. Sob.
I have to say though, for whatever grief they caused, they paid back tenfold. They teased; but they also comforted. They shut me out of their games; but they also let me sleep in their room when I was too scared to sleep by myself. They barred me from singing with Bob; but they also regaled me with cool escapades of boarding school. They made me cry; but I always cried when they had to leave for school. They drove me crazy; but I missed them like hell when they were gone.
“You sulk when they’re here; but you cry when they’re gone.” Mom always, reminded me.
Best description yet of my relationship with my brothers back then. They were my pick-me-ups; a job that fell squarely on their shoulders since they were most certainly the fellows who dropped me in the first place! They stopped at nothing to protect me – it was practically in their DNA.
And it was kind of fun. For a while. Then I grew up and it stopped being fun. In high school, I had a beautiful hand writing, and so it was my job to address love cards from the older girls to their boyfriends. This one time, my brother recognized my handwriting on his best friend’s love card. You know the adage about shooting first and asking questions later? Exactly what my brother did. If I recall correctly, he forbade me from dating until I turned eighteen.
Again, the nerve! Like who the hell did he think he was? I don’t know if I was angrier that he’d jumped to the wrong conclusion, or that he thought himself powerful enough to forbid me from doing anything! I think I got me a boyfriend just to spite his presumptuous arse! OK, I didn’t. But I certainly considered it!
Those boys taught me to hate the guts of people I loved so damn much! I suppose it was training for all the love-hate cocktails I keep having with men that aren’t my brothers…at least I hold my own in um… said situations.
A toast to brothers!