To A Brother With Love

This love makes it bearable when I remember that I am still too young to be a single mother. And it brings some hope when I remember it’s the only thing I have left of you.

To A Brother With Love

A love affair leads to a surprise pregnancy. And then things get complicated. This story contains adult themes and is recommended for adults aged 18 and over.

Dearest Mikki,

I still remember the day you came. The doorbell rang – two short rings and a longer one. I rushed down the stairs with a ready hug for daddy. I flung myself at him and he lifted me up and planted a kiss on my lips before putting me down. It was then I noticed you leaning against the wall, a brown suitcase beside you and a dour look on your face, as you tried unsuccessfully to blend in with the dull brown paint.

“Who is he, Daddy?” I asked as you peeled yourself from the wall. Dad led me into the house and beckoned for you to follow. He sat me down and told me that your mum had just died and that you were going to be living with us for a long time. I stormed into my bedroom, furious he had brought someone else into our circle. My own mum died when I was two. Now you were the interloper out to share Dad’s love with me. It was that clear cut to my fifteen-year-old mind.

I decided to say no more than the necessary words and be mean to you so that you would leave. But you didn’t talk to me either, or act like I existed. You went about with that woebegone look on your face. Dad tried to get me to accept you. He even bribed me with the red dress I had admired some weeks earlier at a boutique. Eventually, I got tired and decided to let you into the cocoon that had been mine and dad’s. You became a wonderful addition to our family.

You joined my school after the Easter break and everyone said you were handsome. I proudly told them you were my brother.

We grew very close. I told you my secrets and you told me some of yours. I still remember some of them. Like the time when you went with Chuka and Bayo to a brothel. Of course you refused to enter the place – or so you said. There was the time you kissed Senior Hilda under the library’s staircase. I could hardly suppress my laughter whenever I saw her. She always tried to be nice to me. If only she had an idea I knew why!

You protected me from bullies like Simon, who was always pinching my buttocks. Do you remember the day you fought him because he slapped me? You bloodied his nose and let me kick his groin. How I laughed at his howls! He never touched me after that. That was the day I fell in love with you.

Other boys began to pale in comparison to you. I compared Phil, whom I hung out with often, and found him wanting. His sixteen years to your seventeen made him a baby to me and I didn’t find him attractive anymore. Not after I mistakenly walked into the bathroom while you were bathing. You didn’t hear me because the shower was running, and you were singing ‘shake your tail feather” and dancing with your back to the door. I stood, mesmerized, and watched the soap suds run down your body. Then you turned, trying to rinse the soap out of your eyes.. My eyes widened at the sight of you down there; long, black and shiny with a sprinkling of dark hair. It scared me a bit and I slipped away noiselessly. I stopped hanging out with Phil after that day.

Daddy wasn’t always home because the position he held at the office made him travel often. I was, um and you were dad. We were close buddies until you told me that you wanted to ask Senior Adele to be your girlfriend. I coldly congratulated you and walked to my bedroom, slamming the door behind me. I didn’t talk to you for the rest of the day. When Akpan drove us to school the next day, we were unusually quiet and he had to ask if we were okay. I didn’t say a word to you at school, either. During the break, I saw you laughing with Senior Adele. Her hand was on your shoulder. A wave of anger hit me and I walked past you and pretended not to hear when you called my name. You came back home that day after football practice and told me that you didn’t ask her to be your girlfriend after all. My face lit up with a smile and I hugged your sweaty body. “You don’t like her abi?”
you asked, but I did not confirm it. Such a girl couldn’t be good enough for you. I was sure of that.

Then my birthday came. I had just turned sixteen. You said I was a little woman and teased me about breaking the hearts of men. I told you then that I wasn’t interested in boys or men. How could I be when you were there for me? Dad threw a birthday party for me before travelling to Abuja for a meeting. Something you ate or drank made you sick later in the evening, and you came to my room. I ran downstairs to call Aunty Bukky, the housekeeper, and she got you some drugs. She told me to wipe you with a wet towel when your body got too hot. You slept for a long time and woke up to find me wiping your naked body with the towel. You grabbed the sheet and covered your waist. I laughed and told you that I was wiping your body for the fourth time. You murmured something and I continued the ministrations. Soon your breath began to come out a little bit faster and I saw goose pimples on your arms and felt your muscles contract. I asked if you were cold because your body was still hot and you told me to keep wiping. I did until my hand mistakenly brushed over something hard. I looked at you and pulled the sheet away, scared that something was wrong. I saw it; long, black, shiny and turgid, nestled in a bush of pubic hair. Enthralled, I touched it. I heard you gasp so I pulled my hand away, but you took my hand and placed it back.

“Do you know what this is?” you asked, smiling.

“Yes na.” I replied. Mrs. Okoro had recently taught us about it in biology class and I had read about them in novels: “I’ve seen Phil’s, too, but yours is bigger!” I said. You frowned, then smiled and closed your eyes. I played with your turgid penis, until it began to pulse. I watched in awe as it spurted a warm, sticky liquid at the same time your body spasmed. Spent, it went limp. I wiped my hand with the towel and curled up next to you.

After that day we saw each other differently. I would catch you staring at me with a funny look in your eyes and I knew I had the same stare whenever I saw you in your boxer shorts.

I will never forget that boring Saturday, when we wanted to watch a new movie. We went to Akpan and he showed us his collection. We picked Naked Weapon, thinking it was an action movie, and ate biscuits and groundnuts while we watched it. Ten minutes into the movie and we realized that it wasn’t the sort of action movie we had first thought it to be. We should have turned it off and returned it to Akpan but the images on the screen glued us to our seats. My head was resting on your shoulders and when you touched me, I welcomed you. My heartbeat became erratic and when you kissed me, I got lost in the sweetness of your lips. I could hear the moans from the characters in the movie. Your touch made me hot and I trembled when you pulled my shorts down. You were the first boy to see me without my panties, and I was shy but I loved you, so I let you look. You put your fingers in between my legs and a sharp cry escaped my lips. You whispered to me: “Tsssh, I won’t hurt you much.” I believed you because I knew you loved me. Soon you replaced your fingers with your penis. Pain seared through my body but I dug my nails into your back and bit my lips to keep from crying out. You rolled off me five minutes later, smiled at me, and called me your “little love,”. That was the beginning of our affair.

This affair continued until you were accepted into the university. There were times I missed you and wanted your body pressed against mine, but you were far away. Then I started going out with other boys. Of course, none were like you. They never saw me without my clothes. You were my first and I loved you best.
A few weeks ago, Aunty Bukky caught me throwing up behind the potted plants in the garden She called me over and looked at me closely.

“You are pregnant, Nnenna, do you know that?’ she asked me. I just kept looking at her. My mind raced. How could she say I was pregnant? I vehemently refused to accept her word for it, until the indicator of the pregnancy test kit read positive thrice. We couldn’t tell how far along I was until I went for a real test at a clinic. I was two months pregnant. Aunty Bukky called daddy before we got home, because she was scared that I would do something foolish.

We got home and he was waiting. He looked disappointed and I just wanted to disappear. He sat me down and asked me who was responsible and I told him I couldn’t say.

“What do you mean? You have slept with so many men that you don’t know the father?’ he asked, pointing at my stomach with murderous rage in his eyes. I’d never seen daddy that angry before. I cried and told him that I had attended a party and got drugged only to wake up naked. Daddy cried with me, and wondered why I had chosen to keep quiet about it. I told him that I didn’t want him to learn of it and be disappointed in me. Then he promised me that everything would be all right.

I had planned to call you that very night but then the news arrived. You had been killed by some cultists. My world crumbled.

Mikki, the rape story I told dad was, of course, a lie. I didn’t sleep with anyone after the last time I came to your lodge. Surely you remember. I came unannounced and found a girl’s panties in the space between the wall and bed while cleaning up the room. You remember how I flew into a rage and the only way you could calm me down enough to listen to you was with a kiss? Of course, it hadn’t ended with the kiss. Our clothes came off in a hurry and we had the best rough sex in our history. In our heated frenzy, we forgot the condom and I had to take emergency contraception pills afterward. I took them as prescribed, so Lord only knows why they didn’t work. I can’t admit this to Daddy, though. That’s why he has to see this baby as the result of a rape. You must know as I do, though, that this baby is the product of love.

As of this moment, I’ve told my friends that I will be traveling to stay with an aunt in Kaduna. Dad suggested an abortion but I bluntly refused. I won’t let them kill this baby of ours that is growing in me. Dad relented and made preparations for me to stay in the village until the baby is born. The love that I have for the little you inside me threatens to consume me. This love makes it bearable when I remember that I am still too young to be a single mother. And it brings some hope when I remember it’s the only thing I have left of you, aside from my memories. Perhaps it’s my maternal instincts already in action.

Speaking of mothers: I came across some letters from a woman named Mfamer Akaayem. That was your mum’s name, wasn’t it? The letters suggest more than a casual relationship or conversation. When I read them, I thought, Could my daddy have been yours too?

It’s quite impossible because Dad would have told us if it were so. I won’t ever ask him, though, because some things are best left unknown. And of course God wouldn’t have let me love you this much if it were true. Would He?

It hurts so much each time I remember that you won’t ever smile at me again while I watch the dimple play on your left cheek. I feel like I have lost everything and I know it’s just the baby and daddy that give me the strength to face another day. As I draw to the end of this letter, the ink of my heart flooding like the tears blurring my sight, I just want you to know that I will never love another like I loved you. You have a special place in this heart of mine and as I seal this letter, I seal my heart within. Keep it, guard it, and love me in return from the other side. I love you Mikki, and I always will. Your little love.

***
Nnenna dropped the pen and folded the letter, pushed back the seat and walked into the bathroom. She filled the bath with water, laid down in it and closed her eyes. Fifteen minutes later, she walked out of the bathroom. She walked to her closet and laid out her dress. She heard the sirens heralding the arrival of Mikki’s body. She pulled her hair into a bun and applied black eye shadow and clear lip gloss. She put on a black dress and stepped into her black high-heeled pumps. Today was a black day. She glanced at the mirror, picked up the letter, and walked out of her room. He had given her something to hold on to here. The letter would be her last gift to him. If the dead could read, he would read it on the other side.

Christine Ponce

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