It’s kind of hard being second to last amongst nine siblings, you know? By the time you have learnt to ride a bike, seven others would have already done it. Your ‘great achievement’ would only bring back fond memories of the time Juma rode hers, or the zillion times Hisham fell off his, before finally getting it right. Humph! Hel-lo! News flash: this is MY big moment!
Funny. I cannot even enjoy my place down the line in peace. I cannot suck on my thumb, or slurp my ice cream, because Karima might be watching, and “big sister is supposed to be a better example”. Big sister? The older child?
- “Mummy, can I stay up and watch the 10:30 movie?”
- “No, Lilly. It’s rated PG13. You are only 12 and a half”.
Humph! So what am I? Old or young? Pretty confusing.
Even the coolest names got snagged before my time. For the first three kids, Mummy was in her prim and proper, formal mode: Juma, Hisham, Awuresi. Lovely. For the next four, she went all hip-hop, African-American: Lamar, Dorrell, DeShawn, and Shaniquah. For her baby, Mummy did the cutie: Leila. Think Leila, and you have thick, curly, jet black hair, flawless dark brown skin, clear brown eyes, and cute pink lips. A real Nubian princess. Then there is me. Lilly. WHY??? I always picture a filthy, toad-populated pond, all green and slimy with one lily pad afloat on the waters. Me. I once told Mummy that. Know what she said?
-“That’s really good, Lil. You see yourself as the one beautiful thing Mother Nature created”.
Like I had really expected her to understand. No one does.
Oh, well. Things won’t always be this way. When we are all grown and married with really cool jobs , our places in the line wouldn’t matter any more. For now, I’ll just go with the flow; and when I think the best is yet to come… I smile.
Having siblings doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Aside having someone to talk to, share with and suffer with, having siblings helps keep everyone on their toes. Your elder brother or sister sets a record; you either maintain it or break it. Aside that, having siblings not only prepares you for the real world by way of having to interact with other people, but also serves as a storeroom of joyful and sad moments shared.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.