N. B. The last chapter was written by my best friend.
He was present at the time of my unbearable ordeal.
I met him at the mental house.
He owns a handsome triple chin,
Neatly designed and made into a pin.
Iwai is my surname. I am the youngest in a family of five. First is Shanna. The next person is Halim. After him comes Ekong. Then, Wole. I am also the strongest and biggest among the boys. Dad said it was remarkable. Mum thinks it is artificial. Put this in mind that I’ll be using the present and past tenses interchangeably.
Shanna, according to my mother, is the name of a certain goddess. I am still in the dark on that issue. My father tried to bring all common Nigerian tribes to us and Igbo was his favourite. He named me Biko.
Mum told me I had an unusual birth. I could still hear Dad’s bubbling laughter when I tried to confirm that from him.
We were all trained in Britain. I was 10 when I came back to my country. Shanna was emerging a full grown lady while the boys, my senior brothers, were battling with adolescence. I stood aside and looked ahead. I admire my sister and the enhancement of her beauty. My immediate was handsome. So are my second and third immediates. But I was downright beautiful. I was Dad’s favourite.
We lived in Port Harcourt. Our residence was opposite the federal university there. Yaoundé was a go-between if we have to go overseas. I learnt a meagre French. Shanna learnt a lot. But the rest refused.
Dad was visiting Britain from America when he met Mum. They were in Newcastle where Shanna was born. Mum was just living with him. He then left my mum and got to Nigeria. A few months later, Mum joined him in Abuja where Halim was born. Weeks later, they travelled to Uyo where Ekong was born. Then, they went to Lagos and decided to get married when Wole was born. They left their children in Lagos and visited Asaba where I was born. A traditional marriage was done there.
I was barely 3 when they took us all to Britain. I’ve been in Newcastle since then. Never mind telling you what we went through there because we owned black pigments as skins. We were a happy family there. We stuck to ourselves like glue. We were undaunted. We still are.
We came to Nigeria a month ago. No explanation was given. I miss Britain terribly. To me, coming back home was foreign. My own people were foreign to me. It was hard to adapt and tolerate but the happiness in the family was still maintained.
Suitors surrounded Shanna but she refused them all. She stuck with us as if her life depended on it. Every night was Christmas. We all would sit round each other and stories tumbled out of our lips. In the sibling line, Ekong beats me and Shanna pets me.
We had one mind, one thought and one motive. We join together and breathe one breath. Dad has a white-collar job. Mum is a profitable trader. The rest of us went to excellent schools, have excellent friends and made excellent grades. What a rosy paradise!!
Shanna and I have white gleams over our eyes inherited from Dad but Mum adores her. My eyes are a brown velvet while Shanna and the rest took Mum’s eyes – a coffee dark brown, almost charcoal black. Dad’s are a chocolate brown. My parents sometimes wonder where my eyes came from.
Thank God Dad is handsome and Mum is beautiful. Shanna is the splitting image of her while I am his carbon copy exact. My elder brothers are their mixtures, which makes them look ludicrous and ridiculous.
What we all did in Britain, we did it here in Port Harcourt. Go for shopping almost everyday, eat at the same time together, share stories, true and false, together and even go to bed together. Nothing could make me happier.
Dad sometimes calls me aside and in his fat laughter, he ridicules Mum, telling me how he met her. Most of the time, I laughed with him. Ekong must have beaten me at the times I don’t laugh with him. Ekong beats me and always defeats me, however strong I am. I guess an elder will always be an elder.