They watched the flurry of activities from their perch at the window, their feet rested on the seat of the club chair propped under the window and their noses were pressed on the window louvres- different louvres because the girl was taller. A woman rolled dough and cut it in strips for chin-chin, another was washing cuts of beef and frozen chicken, their mother was chopping vegetables for fried rice while their aunt had just finished washing a gleaming white mass of rice.
The girl had just turned five but her party was holding the next day, on New Year’s day. She wasn’t happy about not celebrating her birthday on her actual birthday but no one asked a five year old about such things.
“Let me tell you something” he said to her, his face was scrunched in a grimace that he thought was a serious face.
“Don’t celebrate your birthday now, in July I’ll be four and then both of us will be four years old together” He’d emphasized July as he usually did, whenever he sang the twelve months of the year nursery rhyme, he would shout out July and then sing August at his normal tone and pitch.
His sister looked at him with horror, was such a thing even possible? Could he really be asking her to delay her birthday? She wasn’t old enough to know about cheap drugs or being high for that matter but she knew there had to be something wrong.
“Then in December again, you’ll not celebrate your birthday again and in July again I’ll senior you because I’ll be five and you will still be four” he was smiling this time, his eyes shone with something like joy.
As he was talking, his sister remembered the story of Esau and Jacob that their mother had read to them from “my book of bible stories”. She wasn’t going to lose her birthright so easily, this birthday delay idea had to die.
“Nooooooo!” the girl screamed quietly, attracting the attention of the adults outside was not going to be good for them. Their mother had told them many times that the panes of the louvres could injure them, one of them might even slip off the support and break their heads. The view of the quadrangle was worth more than a broken head to them, their lives were rather boring.
“I’m already five years” she told him, even as uncertainty gnawed at her. Could her age increase even if she hadn’t cut her cake yet?
“Are you sure?” the boy asked although he already believed her, his big sister knew everything.
“Yes na, you don’t need cake for your birthday every time
”But why do you want to senior me, do you want to be like Jacob and his brother” she asked
“They were twins jare, me and you are we twins?”
“It’s bad to want to senior me, it’s in the bible” she intoned, fairly sure she was right.
“Uhhhhh, I’m just tired of being small, I want to senior somebody” he said “maybe I’ll tell mummy to bring a baby for us”.
“Yes! Let’s tell her we want a baby” his sister agreed.
“Let’s go and tell her” the boy urged as he looked at the club chair and the ground in preparation for leaping off the chair.
She held his hand so he wouldn’t fly off the chair like he was the blue lion in their favourite cartoon, she wasn’t even concerned about his safety, he’d been flying since he was two years old. She told him they’d talk to their mother when she’d finished chopping the vegetables, that way they would obtain a solemn promise and she wouldn’t say she’d forgotten when they talked about it.
Another reason he wanted to be the senior was because he wanted to be the one with all the right answers. Letting out a deep breath, he turned back to the window and continued watching. They stood there for some time with his skinny hand tucked in her palm and they talked about what they’d do when they grew up.
Today’s my brother’s actual birthday and even though he’s not having a party, I’m still excited. He’s the best wingman a woman could ever ask for and one of the best two brothers in the world.
Happy birthday Obinna Chikezerim, I wish you the best of the best of everything that’s available on earth and in heaven and I pray that this new year will bring all the things you want plus more. Don’t forget to listen to your big sister more, eighteen months is not eighteen days.