“Business partners.” Those were probably my most hated words pretty early in life.
Being born into an odd numbered family will probably not matter to a lot of people, but it seemed to make all the difference to me. My siblings before me paired up nicely, my siblings after me were paired up by nature. Me, I just floated solo. For a long time I was the youngest-older-child, or the eldest-younger-child depending on where my position was being viewed from – the pair before me are pretty close in age, the pair after me too far from me in age. It was when I tried to cut loose from that tag that I first encountered the words business partners.
My sister, Flesh, and my brother, Jigga (long before they became Flesh and Jigga) shared the closest bond in my family. At meal times they were happy to share each other’s food – it is the food bit I remember first because back then I had an appetite to match my baby fat.
Flesh would be unable to finish her food and she would offer it to Jigga, who in turn, would leave her a piece of his meat or fish. Even when they were both full, they would cover the food and set it aside for later, and when I asked for some, the response was always the same, “We are business partners.” This always irked me. They would go on errands together, play WHOT together, swap chores, all because they were business partners, and I was left with no one but myself to partner with. I guess I resented that, I guess. But I grew up, we grew up, and while they did not grow apart, we all caught up with each other.
Recently she moved in with us, and she moved in with a partner closer to her than Jigga or her husband. She moved in with my nephew/niece. Since they moved in, my life has taken on a not-so-dramatic change.
One of the things I notice about my married friends is the disappearance of their necks the first few months of marriage, and then the appearance of a pot belly especially when the wife gets pregnant. I used to say how it was as a result of indiscipline and long throat; going from the odd take out or, the convenient noodles with plantains and eggs to regular meals three times a day, including packed lunches without any effort or extra activity to work them off.
Flesh’s moving in coincided with the fuel subsidy removal strike, and though I was out of town for the period, I returned home eventually. The first evident change was regular meals; breakfast, lunch and dinner. She cooked and served and sometimes would want to clear up after us. Give her five more minutes and she will want to do the dishes! If we were cut from a different cloth, all my brother and I would have left to us would be to sleep, wake up, feed ourselves, burp, and lie about all day.
I thought that was bad until she got to the ‘cravings’ stage. It was not so much what she craved as what she did not crave, and as is the case with most cravings, you quickly tire of them. Jigga bailed out on his business partner leaving me to hold the fort, so whatever she craved, I had to help her finish the left overs.
Then she had this cycle, actually still has it, where she wakes up at 03:00 to eat something. With a pregnant woman in the house the plan is to stay alert even while asleep, so her visit(s) to the fridge usually woke me up. Before long I also caught that cycle bug, now we both wake up around 3am to eat something.
The other day she had gone to the fridge to get some bananas and, as she walked past me where I was sprawled in front of the TV waiting for her to return so we could continue the movie we were watching, she tossed me two fingers. “That’s to save you the journey to the fridge,” she said. Thoughtful.
Oh, and there is the time spent in front of the TV. Flesh thinks up a movie title, or I suggest one I really like or would like to see, and Jigga downloads it overnight – if he doesn’t have it already. Some we see just once, some we don’t see, some we watch over and over again. In pole position for the latter are: Real Steel, August Rush, Seabiscuit, Up, Seabiscuit – did I type that already? Yea, Seabiscuit. There are the series also: Game of Thrones, Nikita, Luther, Hustle…
As I write this, my brain feels like it is drowning in water! Before Flesh came, five cartons of 1.5Ltr bottles of water took us two months to finish; since she came, we go through that in three weeks tops. She drinks bottle after bottle like she is in the Sahara, and I am there matching her bottle for bottle.
We laugh and joke about all these changes, but when I look in the mirror at myself it stops being so amusing. I have never been a six-packer, but this bump I see in my ever thickening middle is not even funny at all. It hangs out over my belt line looking like a sympathy pregnancy.
When I wrote in November: Guys get to work and make me an uncle o. You know I love you, but I must come for omugwo soon UTUNU. I guess I asked for it. In a few months I will be an uncle – again. Considering how it is going now, I may be in that labour room with her pushing and screaming and panting and cursing and praying and panting and screaming and pushing.
It’s either that, or register at a gym and work hard at losing this extra flesh I have piled up.
So I am lying here, writing about this and it hits me. In an instant I stop worrying about my one pack and instead dwell on why I have it. There is something magical taking place inside of my sister, and the magic transcends time and earlier relationships. It has woven Flesh, Jigga and me into a closer knit unit. They may be business partners, but what is business partnership in the face of familial love? Oh yes, it dawns on me now more than ever, we are a pack. We are family.