I observed the sweetest thing this morning.
I shared a keke napep ride to the junction with a family of three – a mother and her two sons. The boys were dressed for school. Different uniforms, implying that they attend different schools.
Just before the junction, the mother called for her stop. The driver pulled up and she got down with her sons. However, it turned out the stop was just for her and the younger son, because the older one did something I’d never seen brothers do in Nigeria, before he climbed back into the keke.
He reached for his brother, held his head in his hands and kissed his cheek. Then he muttered, “I love you,” before letting him go.
I was startled by this. Startled and touched. Such displays of affection, whether public or private, is something you rarely find among brothers in Nigeria – actually, scratch that, among males in Nigeria.
But here was a boy so unselfconscious over his affection for his brother, so secure in their relationship, that he wished him the sweetest ‘Have a good day’ ever.
I remember the first time one of my brothers told me he loved me. It was just a few years ago. We were grown men having a conversation. And just as we were winding up, he said, “I love you, brother.”
My instinctual reaction to this was panic. My brother is this quintessential masculine man, and to hear those words from him was so out of character, that it unleashed a series of panicked thoughts in me. What was the problem? Was he sick? Was he dying?
I didn’t pose any of these questions to him though, and it took a moment after he clicked off for me to realize the magic of what had just happened.
Oftentimes, we take it for granted that those we love, especially family, simply know of our love for them. We have rationalizations like how saying ‘I love you’ is just unnecessary, and how such things are for oyibo people and not Naija-rians like us. But you see, actions may speak louder than words, but there is so much power in the physical expression of love. The kiss on the forehead, that effusive embrace, the simply utterance ‘I love you’… Whether from lover to lover, husband to wife, sibling to sibling, parent to child, they are the little things that contribute to the great differences of our existence and the beauty of living.
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