My Sister! The first of my parents’ eight children, popularly known by everyone, both old and young, as Sis G. A lot of people have impacted my life but none like this sister of mine.
None of the stories about my journey could ever be complete without talking about this woman who has been there in the background supporting me through my journey. Not just me but my other siblings, be it from our dad’s several disciplinary measures or saving us from ourselves. You see, we had a very strict disciplinarian for a dad, I guess because we were mainly girls. He felt he had to protect us but it was a lil’ bit too much sometimes. His measures didn’t stop my immediate elder sister, Mrs A but as usual, Sis G to the rescue.
Early Childhood Memories
Growing up together, we’ve had terrible rows and made up again, that’s the beauty of our relationship in my family. She kept the Aig children together no matter the rows we might have had, it we always made up afterwards. As we say, “the fear of Sis G is the beginning of wisdom”. Not like she acts like a hulk hogan incarnate, she was and still is the gentlest person you could ever come across.
Whilst my immediate older sister and I were rebels, she was the peacemaker. It was and still is, because we just didn’t want to upset her. No one could understand why we say this about our big sister; but the simple truth is because we love and respect her for all she’d done and still does for us. We also didn’t like her disapproving mien. Huh huh no! Never be the recipient of her ”look”, once her bottom lip starts to stiffen and jut out, take a stroll real quick till she’d calmed down. However, the respect we showed her, ensured that everyone including our friends and neighbours accorded her the same respect. Well, they would have to contend with me, if they didn’t.
Our Lil’ Mother
My sister was and still is always right by our side in our moment of need and supports us even when she battling her own demons. She has been at the side of every single one of us, in our hour of need, all seven of us. Not that she gets it right all the time and when she does finally realise her mistake, she isn’t one to keep arguing but apologise. She’s only human, right? Only God, our creator is perfect so one cannot expect perfection all the time.
So for the first time, through my story, I’m going to give people a rare sneak peek into my family. We’ve had some sad stories and some hilariously funny ones. Some people who know us will laugh along because everyone was involved in our family drama. So settle back and enjoy the rare experience.
Two Groups Of Sister Musketeers
I came into this world with the knowledge I was loved unconditionally by everyone in my family. The last girl of three girls and three boys until my mum decided to have two other girls after me. That’s another story for another time. You see, I’m perfectly placed to make up two groups of sister musketeers (the senior musketeers and the junior musketeers). My journey through childhood, teenage years and adulthood was filled with adventure with these two sister groups.
My early memories of my sister were her tales of her future in the States and her family. She never wavered from that but one thing she always talked about was coming back to take us along with her. When I was young, I always knew and trusted that no matter what, my sister would always be there for me.
As the eldest, she had always taken the brunt of any backlash of our misadventures so we went free. Well, in truth, she was always told off for our escapades because my parents expected her to know better and restrain us. I think Africans reading this will understand what I’m talking about. The eldest child had responsibility of their younger siblings when the parents weren’t around. However, when things went wrong, which they always did, she would take whatever consequences we would have faced. This was how the respect and love we had for her began to develop.
Mischief Begets Punishment
However, when we started out with our mischief, she would say, “my hand no dey oh” which meant she wasn’t a party to our shenanigans. When it becomes glaring that we were going to get in trouble, she would quickly try to help us avoid the repercussion of our mischief.
Oh! How I remember the mischief my immediate older sister and I, got up to. Our dad was very strict and would come down hard on any of us flaunting his rules. My immediate elder sister (I call her Mrs A now) was the leader of our team of two. I remember clearly that my dad as a staunch Catholic frowned on any “worldly” things or actions in his house. He would severely punish anyone who dared to flaunt his rules.
Anyway, Mrs A had seen this new fad of shaving the eyebrows and thought it was cool. She had done hers and perhaps, after the deed, she didn’t want to get in trouble alone. As everyone might know, there is that favourite child in the house, who gets away with everything. That was me! In order to avoid punishment, Mrs A just had to drag me into her drama. I was gently pressured to shave mine as well. This was only because she had mistakenly taken too much off hers.
We managed to hide it from our dad, that Friday and Saturday by hiding away inside the house with a scarf tied right over our heads, covering our eyebrows. Our mum suspected something but like all mums do, she didn’t draw any attention to it.
On Sundays, we always went to church in the car together. We couldn’t escape this journey so again, we had our scarves over our brows and sat at the other end of the back seat. Mrs A kept well away from my dad. I believe by now, our dad was wondering why we’ve not been as boisterous as we usually were on the way to church. We were earnestly praying that the brows grow back quickly. After the church service, we had to go visit a family friend, meanwhile Sis G was helping us hide from our dad.
Mrs A wouldn’t leave well alone, would she? She convinced our family friend’s daughter to shave her own eyebrows too. Now, this lady was much older than Mrs A, maybe about 4 years or so. (Listen, if you haven’t met Mrs A, you will never understand her wit. She’s got a silver tongue). Then, she was still a gangling teenager! Meet her now, you’ll be bowled over from the start. Anyway, she convinced this lady to shave her own eyebrows and took the whole thing off and told her to draw on an eyebrow with an eye pencil. However, this lady wasn’t into makeup so had none. She looked really weird.
I believe it was the lady’s mum who let the cat out of the bag because when she found her daughter without eyebrows, all hell was let lose. It was her cry of alarm that brought both her husband and my dad, running. Oh my! By the time my dad finished with both of us, calling us “brow shavers”, we swore never to try it again until we were in university. Well, as usual, Sis G also shared in our misery because my parents thought she had also shaved her eyebrows. On closer examination, it was discovered hers was natural. The mischief we got up to at the expense of Sis G.
Passion For Books
Sis G was quite the obedient child, probably because she was the first-born, but fiercely protective of us. However, she had what we considered to be a vice then. She loved to read! Anything and everything she could lay her hands on, she read and she was and still is, an avid reader. Nothing was left out, from romantic novels (Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland), adventure (Enid Blyton books), thrillers (James Hadley Chase) to Judy Annuals, to mention a few. I can’t remember all the books but these were her favorites. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her reading in a hidden corner of the bed in our room, as soon as she heard our dad coming, that book disappeared. We were also her lookouts. She introduced me to her book reading passion. It has carried on over the years that I have also introduced our passion for reading books to my children.
However, our dad was not a big fan of such books, he called them immoral books. He only wanted us to read our school books or the bible so we ended up reading at the back of the house or anywhere we could find. My dad would catch us, punish us and either seize the books, never to be seen again or burn them right before our very eyes.
Romantic Novel Prohibition
Defiantly, Sis G would either borrow from friends or buy with her own money. It was like the prohibition period. Lol. We would hide books in every nook and cranny we could find or in friends’ houses. Eventually, I think our dad got tired of the game or our mum stepped in and pleaded on our behalf. During this time, I felt really close to her so I was very protective of her. Sis G gave me my love of books and reading but I went further and built my skills in researching any topic so I’m able to talk on my family’s behalf.
Unbeknownst to my family, I was secretly training in martial arts because I wanted to protect my sisters. I still do today but this time with my tongue and my pen. In more recent times, I have honed my defence skills elsewhere to suit today’s environment.
This brings to mind an incident that happened, I believe I was in year 7 (JSS1 in Nigeria). We had gone somewhere together and walking home together. It was a long way home so we decided to take a shortcut through a primary school close to a bush path, infrequently used by people.
On our way, it was very quiet and we were a bit jittery about being by ourselves on this path at that time. We started to walk really fast because we were scared. Sis G held on to my hand as we walked because I was starting to lag behind. Then, we heard a bicycle bell sound behind us but before we could get off the path to allow the boy on the bicycle go past, he lost control and crashed into me. Sis G held on to this boy and refused to let him go. She was crying because I had been hurt.
The boy started begging her to let him go but Sis G insisted he had to treat my injuries. He agreed. However, I had been hurt so couldn’t walk so she had to let him go so she could help me along the path. Since the path was narrow, she asked the boy to go in front with his bicycle.
The boy took the opportunity to escape with his bicycle whilst Sis G’s attention was focused on helping me. She ran after him but Sis G was never athletic so that didn’t go so well. She was really weeping because he got away. At that moment, I swore nobody will ever make her cry again. She helped me home and we never talked about that incident ever again. From that day, I became her personal defender until my university days, when I had to move away.
My university days were really an adventure experienced with some really amazing women. I got involved in activism and extended my love for books through my interaction with some stalwarts in the poetry, literary community and activist world. They showed me a deeper understanding of literature and writing which has served me well over the years. I dabbled into modelling, the entertainment industry, stage art etc. Most of the people I started out with are all big stars and celebrities now in Nigeria and Africa. The kind of friends I made were just like me, humble and unassuming. The ones who acted contrary to my values were dropped very quickly. People came and went but I can only really count 5 friends from my university days. My love for adventure finally took me to a foreign country courtesy of my sister, Mrs A.
Allez Au Pays Etranger
There was an opportunity to travel to a foreign country for our french exchange programme year. I was studying Foreign Languages at this time. My other three friends convinced me it would be good or vice versa, I can’t remember. I was determined to go because the department was trying to put obstacles in our way. Mrs A gave me the funds to follow my dreams so I knew I was going.
So we approached the father of one of my friends, he was the chairman of the local government at the time. He came to our department and vouched for us. They had no choice but to let us go. It was the best decision I ever made because that trip solidified my mastery of the French language today. Unfortunately, before I could go back to thank my friend’s dad for everything he did for us, he passed away. I’m forever grateful to him. His children never knew why I was so protective of them even till today (I guess they will know now).
There are different stories here about Sis G’s involvement in most of my escapades here but suffice me to say, at every point in my life adventures, Sis G was always there. Either silently disapproving my actions but still helping me or encouraging me to spread my wings. The tell-all book she has been egging me on to write, maybe, I will take that leap. Leave a comment if you think it’s a good idea.
Life After Togo And Getting Hitched
After I came back from Togo, I moved into my own flat just behind the university, sponsored by Mrs A. Both Sis G and Mrs A were renting a flat together in another state. I went to visit often but I always went back to my flat. I had finished University when by some lucky fate, I met my husband (that’s another story).
The first people I told were Sis G and Mrs A. They were so happy for me, I was going to be the first girl to get hitched. They started planning straight away with my mum, after my husband had come to declare his intentions. It was supposed to be a small affair but as soon as the word went out I was getting married, people wanted to come celebrate with us. Well, the wedding went without a hitch and I became a Mrs A.
Coming To Manchester
I moved immediately to Manchester, UK. At the time I got married, phones were still a novelty so I couldn’t talk to anyone. It was lonely. However, Sis G would write long letters and emails about ”gossip” from home. I had no friends when I first got here so I lived for those letters. I don’t think she ever realised how much she supported me those first few months living away from my family.
An older sister is a friend and defender – a listener, conspirator, a counselor and a sharer of delights. And sorrows too.
We have both carried on the tradition till today. However now, there are free phone calls, instant messaging and free voice calls. We both have a joke about our calls. We say about the BBM call service, they became tired with how much time we spent on our calls that they started making it impossible for us to communicate. Skype went the same way, then it was the one with the purple background. If these free call companies calculated how many hours we spent talking, it would be a lot of hours. Just like if anyone asks us what we talked about to rack up such hours, we wouldn’t remember.
SFRT – A New Phase
A few years after I married my husband, after having two children, tragedy struck. Sis G had come to visit on holiday before she joined her husband in the US. I fell ill suddenly and the next thing we knew, I was in ICU, SFRT. My friends told me, she was outside my hospital room, praying and passing any new updates about any development, to the rest of the family. Quietly supporting me spiritually and looking after my children who were so young.
She stayed until I was better and only left when she was sure I would be okay on my own. Unfortunately, a year after she left, the same thing happened. However, she couldn’t be with me as she had only just arrived in the States to be with her husband. As she kept in touch with my husband during that time, was able to reassure the family I was fine.
Since she’s been in the US, Sis G has been to visit twice. The distance between all the sisters, pales in comparison to the love we all have for each other. She’s always at the end of the phone if I want to talk. It’s become our routine. If we want to just talk because we are bored, we call her. She does the same too. With such a huge capacity to love unconditionally, all her nephews and nieces both love and respect her.
The tongue and teeth would always fight but know when to call a truce.African proverb
It’s hasn’t always been easy and stress-free though. As the adage goes, the tongue and teeth would always fight but know when to call the truce. There have been quarrels from as long as I can remember but they never did last long. We would usually settle it among ourselves and any outsiders usually suffer the consequences of getting involved.
I pray we will always have our sisterhood. So far, we’ve had each other’s backs. I couldn’t ask for anything more.