Words spoken to ease mother’s grief and conceal my bitterness. How can we be brothers three when only two sons stand before a cold wreath? Eyes set soft and feigning kindness while my mind screamed, “I deserve it”. Not Nnamdi who couldn’t even make the burial. Not Ikem who was obviously father’s favourite. And I just know Nnamdi will return to stake his claim as okpara in a few months time.

Where was he when mama took ill? When I and Ikem left school to look after mother and support papa’s business? Nowhere. It was my sweat and tears that brought this company back from the brink. Whose land was sold off to pay off the bank loan? Whose idea was it to introduce pay based on sales? Mine.

My gaze shifts from papa’s still form to my sister’s weeping figure. She will lack no good thing as long as I breathe; I swear it. She and Mama are the reasons I’ve pushed myself this far. Left to Nnamdi they would be fending off our relatives by themselves and while Ikem’s heart is in the right place he lacks true grit. Ikem Ikem. The second son and golden child of the Echezuna household. The brother I might have truly loved had my parents tried even a little bit to hide their overwhelming love for him. He not even sister was the one who got the jara whenever papa returned from his trips; he even got to decide his own university! Their constant doting made him dependent, weak.

I finally turn from my introspection to look at the woman who raised me. I have never been able to hide anything from mama and beneath the grief in her eyes I see worry. Worry because she has lost her husband and her family will be torn apart by her son’s greed. And I’m fine with that.

written by kachi