Happy Birthday, Adeolu.

For quite a while, I was the youngest child in my small family before my awesome sister later joined us. As a child, I did not have friends, not in school, not in church, not even among family friends. Of course, I had few acquaintances that I seldom spoke with but in the true sense of friendship, I had none. It was not that I was socially awkward or that I had a mental disability or a complex, none of those. I really just came alive in my own space (I still do.) I was comfortable with playing with myself. In fact, some of my family's fondest memories of me as a child were me playing/talking to myself and having all sorts of fun all by myself. Because of this, my older brother played a double role in my life; brother and friend. He was both to me, he still is and will always be.

I did everything my brother did and did many other things for my brother. We played together, talked together, ate together, saved up together. Ah! Our Savings! I used to save up my pocket money with my brother and then we would buy games I never liked. I've never enjoyed playing games but I agreed to buy those games because I knew how much my brother loved them. I did so many stupid things just to please him. But he in return, protected and loved me very much. One incidence stands out in my mind. When we were much younger, our Dad volunteered in the church vestry as the church's Accountant or Financial officer (can't remember which). Anyway, since they did the jobs for free and it always made them wait so long after church service, their kids were entitled to a bottle of drink/soda each. Probably as a compensation for waiting for their folks.  On one of such Sundays, after emptying my bottle of Fanta in my stomach, I broke the bottle. I was terrified. I ran to my brother while he was with his friends who weren't my friends and I told him I needed to tell him something.

"Deolu, I've broken my bottle. What will I tell Daddy?" I asked, terribly shaken.

He paused for a while, realizing the magnitude of what I had done. Thinking back now, I don't know why ordinary breaking of bottle was such a big deal. But, if there's anything my siblings and I know, it is that as cool and fantastic as our Father is, he is also a disciplinarian and maybe even more of that.

"Okay, you know what, take mine. I'll tell Daddy I broke my bottle. Don't worry, go and play." My brother replied me.

I was shocked. He was going to take the blame for what I did. I don't remember the aftermath of that Sunday but my Parents never found out I was the one who actually broke the bottle. Those were the kind of sacrifices Deolu made for me. That must be why whenever he was being scolded, my eyes would well up in tears. (Deolu abeg that was then oh, if they scold you now, O.Y.O lo wa. Lmao). He also played very annoying pranks on me and I always fell for them because I trusted him too much. One day, he had accompanied me to the hairdresser's and on our way back home;

"Ehen, Ife, I wanted to even tell you. You know the thing that kills someone in cars, as in when a car hits someone, the particular thing that kills people has been removed. So now if you stand in front of a moving car, it won't even affect you."

For the sake of my reputation as a smart person, I'd rather not say what my next actions were.  My brother was such a happy child. He was always laughing and smiling. His childhood photo album can actually attest to this. There is not one childhood picture of my brother where he was not grinning. I was the one who put up a faint smile just for the camera, he was the one who had a smile plastered 24/7. From going to birthday parties and dancing to Shina Peters so much that twenty something years later, my mum's friends still remember him as a Shina Peters' fan, even though he swears he can't imagine ever loving the Afro-Juju musician. And when he was a huge fan of the king of pop and made me like Michael Jackson too.

Recently, my brother sent me an IM to ask if our baby sister knows, lets call the person XYZ. XYZ had made a comment on one of my sister's beautiful pictures calling her 'angelic' or 'adorable' or one of those Facebook languages. He wanted to be sure my sister was safe. At first, I was quite irritated because I felt, hey my sister is with me, what wants to happen to her under my nose? Then when I carefully pondered on his statement, "That's how it always starts oh, those weird Facebook people", I realized he was just being what he has always been, a brother who watches over his siblings. Not that alone, but a person who watches out for others.

Dear Deolu,
Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for being very level headed and not being an embarrassment to us. Some people may think you are too gentle/quiet and stern (side eye at them), I prefer that to having an 'agbero' for a brother. Even though, I may not always agree with your methods, your leadership qualities are very outstanding and we appreciate you for your kindness and your very good heart. You are a good man.

I changed to a letter mode because it was beginning to look like an eulogy. God forbid! You see, that is because we never say good things about people until we lose them. Why am I saying all these things anyway? Because my brother is a year older today. Happy Birthday, Adeolu! You have big dreams, dreams so big, they sometimes scare me but that just shows how great you are. May God give you the wisdom and courage to live out those dreams. May God bless you with long life and prosperity and may he bless you with a wife and children of your dreams (Twins, to be specific). All those that have laughed at you WILL come to laugh with you. Wa pe fun wa o, Akanni!

With so much love,
Your sisters.

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