My brother Obinna is eighteen months younger than me, I like to refer to our age difference in months so it looks larger. When we were very young we had a semi-adversarial relationship, we were so close that we didn’t need words to communicate but we were also always battle ready. I was the peaceful and calm child while Obinna was usually always the aggressor. He hated the fact that a mere girl was the first child and he always tried to stage coups to get my position. One of our consistent battles was the battle for the milk spoon.
Every morning even till this day, breakfast is accompanied by a cup of tea in my house. The tea making process was closely monitored by Obinna to ensure that the exact measure of beverages got into our cups, one gram of extra bournvita into Adaeze’s cup would guarantee that the tea maker would be the target of Obi’s wrath. His wrath was a fearful thing indeed, my parents could deflect it but my aunties who more often than not made the tea were only too vulnerable. However the crime of putting extra beverage in my cup was not to be compared with the ultimate crime of all, putting the milk spoon in the wrong cup.
The milk spoon is the spoon used to scoop the milk, bournvita etc from the tins to our cups, and we had a roster for who got the spoon on a daily basis. If the “tea maker” puts the spoon in the wrong cup, hurricane Ada+Obi would sweep her away. Looking back now I’m amazed at our pettiness but back then it was one of the pertinent issues of our lives. We felt the spoon conferred special powers on the user, where we got that idea from? I wish I knew.
In the last few months I’ve been through a number of wringing situations in my personal and professional lives, from NYSC issues, being cash strapped, to a recent and very intense apathy to romantic attachments and I felt the stirrings of profound depression. Some days ago I wondered why we toiled and suffered in this world only for our labour to end in the grave, now I understood Solomon’s mood when he wrote Ecclesiastes.
Only yesterday I remembered how the milk spoon was the biggest issue of my life and how inconsequential it is today, who knows one day I’ll look at 2014 and say “I thought I had real problems then”. Today Obinna and I have been through fiercer quarrels and disagreements which have all been consigned to the dustbin of the past but our love for each other has only grown deeper.
At the end of the day it is not the problems and worries of life that define our lives but the people we’ve touched and have been touched by and the laughter we’ve shared along the way. I learnt that years ago, I’m reminding myself today.