Tribute to My sister at eighteen


Happy birthday to you (2x)

Happy Birthday to you Deola

HappyBirthday to you

We wish you many happy returns of the day

Long life and Prosperity

HIP! HIP!! HOORAAAY!!!

                 It is appropriate that this piece commemorating your eighteenth birthday starts with the Birthday song popularly known and sung all over the world. Well first of all I have to beg your apologies that I did not write this earlier, well I’m really sorry but then since you are eighteen until next year , I believe I’m still in order. Birthdays as you know, are times to get mushy, and touchy feely, and fall over each other to say how wonderful you have been. But as the wise saying goes “ti omo eni ba daa ka wi, A kuku ni fi se aya” (there is nothing wrong is saying that one’s daughter(or sister in your case) is beautiful, it’s not that one is going to marry her or anything). There is no doubt that I am happy to have a sister like you, and the fact that I am happy for you on your birthday is indisputable as well. There is also no doubt that I think you’ve been a wonderful sister throughout the eighteen years I have known you. Let me also add that I will not hesitate to boast of the fact that your conduct for the past eighteen years, have been exemplary. These days when sixteen and pregnant seems to be the norm rather than an aberration, mothers and many girls your age have committed multiple abortions, your making it to your eighteenth birthday, whole with no criminal records or disabled from accidents and more importantly without irresponsible rascals  knocking our door asking for you, is a laudable achievement. These days when girls your age get driven home by different men in strange cars, you have kept yourself and for that you deserve credit. Also at an age when youths get apathetic about God and religion, you have maintained your faith, even helping people under you learn more about God as a Sunday school teacher, for that I believe congratulations are in order.

Congratulations aside, I believe some prayers for you are in order as well. May you live long and prosper.  May God continually enrich your coast and lift you up. You have been a source of Joy to our family, May our joy over you not turn to sorrow, We will never have cause to curse (please pardon the pun ) the day you came into our family. May your future be glorious, sickness and death shall not come near you, every good thing you crave for will be yours and you shall live a long and happy life. All these and many more I ask for you in the name of Jesus.

Like play, like play, (as they say these days), you are now eighteen. That calls for a big celebration.  We must pop Champagne. It is not every day that someone turns eighteen, and when that person is the baby of the house, we should throw a big party. Eighteen is a sort of magic age, an age when you suddenly change from a minor to an adult with rights. For your information (that is if you don’t know already). You can now queue up at a polling station on an election day to vote, you are now entitled to a driving license. You are allowed to get married without your parents’ consent, You now have to pay full price on airplane tickets, you can now drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes without molestation,  you are no longer under any obligation to obey curfews set by your parents and you are now a taxpayer. Eighteen years has gone by in a flash. One moment you were a shawl wrapped bundle, that looked so tiny and fragile that all of us peered at, and none dared to touch, another, you are a young lady, already on her way to becoming a nurse. How time flies.

It is amazing how much you grown as the last child of the house, you have been continually watched by seven eyes. Like  Beliebers watching Justin Bieber and Hollywood watching Dakota Fanning grow up(both of whom incidentally are also eighteen this year as well), we have  watched your every move intently, ever since that day in 1994 when our mummy brought you home and a  two year old kid, touched you gingerly and blurted out “this is baby Adegbite.” we worried when you were slow to catch up with learning to read, becoming scared when we saw you having to repeat a class because she didn’t catch up early enough. We took keen interest in the kind of people we see around you, watched the subtle changes in your style of dressing, watched as the baby fat evaporated and the lean body starting to take shape and form, complained when we felt you didn’t eat enough and you were growing leaner than normal.  We became afraid when you struggled with your exams, We were happy when you decided you  wanted to join the Sunday school teachers in Church, We were glad when you smashed your  O’levels and We glowed with pride when you gained admission to the school of nursing.  I know it must rankle a bit being the last child and having to live up to the increasingly high standards your older siblings have set.

It is amazing how much you’ve grown right in front of us, I saw it the other day when you asked me if I knew any GTB bank branches here in Ibadan, to think that you have a bank account with GTB,. Of course I know that having a bank account is the first big step towards financial independence, now so you are going to be making some money for yourself; you have certainly come a long way.  Here I am still thinking of you as the baby of the family, the one we got jealous of because she got cakes made for her every birthday, while you are here talking about making some cash for yourself. I guess I have to get used to that.

It is amazing how much you’ve grown right before our eyes. I saw it the other day in the tightly tied nylon bag you brought out of your room and dumped in the trash can when I was taking out the trash, yes I loosened it an I saw the bloodstained sanitary pads. You must forgive me if I look like a voyeur prying at things that should otherwise be kept secret, but how do you think I can easily let go of the thoughts of you being the little kid that we had to clean her anus after she used the  WC because she could not do it herself?, or the  little girl we used  to tease that her buttocks are black? The way you pushed my hand away forcefully after I tried to slap your buttocks the way I used to do when the buttocks was still more bone than flesh. How can I stop thinking of you as the little girl with a flat chest and a flat butt who played football with us and whom we tried to initiate into our bathtub swimming games?

It is amazing how much you’ve grown right before our eyes, I see it in the fact that our house has become a port of call these days for people seeking the services of a Chief Bridesmaid, I see it when you stand behind brides in church and your stature is so similar to theirs that one could substitute you with the bride and no one would suspect anything. I see you when you walk with newly wedded to the altar to sign the marriage register. I feel proud when I see that your signature is embedded in the foundation of many a home, and I know it is only a matter of time before the day that your signature will appear in the dotted lines as the bride and no longer as the best lady.

And that reminds me; again, now that you are eighteen the coast is now clear for a man to darken our doorway and say “well there is a flower in your house and blah blah blah” and believe me they will come. I can assure that when he turns up, I for one will be ready for him with a withering hail of questions, you will grant me that. Anyway no talk about guys just yet I guess both of us will have to sit together in a big Pow Wow to discuss that.

So you are eighteen now, I wish I was older and wiser and smarter before now so that we could have sat down and chatted,  in the passion of children who pour out their minds, not now(starting from today for you) when we are both adults who have learned to communicate with silence.  I wish I was still as chatty as before so that We could talk and talk and talk, but still I have a few things to say to you

Now that you are eighteen and you have some fundamental human rights to use for yourself. I would suggest that you be careful in the use of certain of your human rights, especially your Right to freedom of Association and freedom of movement. One thing you know is that even the birds, free as they are to fly the sky, have to land sometimes in their tiny nests. Being young wild and free increases your chances of getting lost. Freedom is enjoyed when tempered with discipline. Don’t forget, if you hang around dogs, you cannot have any complaints when you are offered shit. I hope as you grow older you will come to appreciate why Daddy and Mummy imposed curfews on us and warned us to not associate with certain types of people. Let me also let you know that though adulthood may begin at eighteen, it does not end there, therefore you should not let the euphoria of this so called year of freedom blind you to the bigger picture. I do not expect you to be a dogmatic follower of what Dad and Mum say as from today onwards, but I expect you to appreciate why they say what  they say what they say. It is simple. You must appreciate and understand why they say what they say even if you won’t do it. Now that you are eighteen, I know that you are in a hurry to stand alone and start to make your own wad of cash, but let me remind that what an old man sees sitting down a youngster cannot see it even if he climbs up the tallest Iroko tree. Let me tell you that on this side of eighteen, the World is a jungle.  Let me paint you a scenario, in the jungle of life, you have to choose your path, (nobody can do that for you) ,and you have to walk it alone. However you have two choices to make on that path, you either go it alone which means you run the risk of losing your way and wandering round and round and either never getting to your destination or wasting an inordinate amount of time getting there, or you use a compass recommended by old successful rangers, which may look archaic and old fashioned but will eventually get you to your destination without the additional blundering around

And then there is this issue of social networking. I’m happy you are not a zero on the social network scale. Of course you can see for yourself that the rewards are plentiful. But let me remind you that now that you are eighteen you will run into people who will seem to be perfect, don’t forget it is only a computer and there is limited censure on what can be said or done. Avoid Facebook and Twitter celebs who dazzle you with their picture perfect lifestyles do not let your eyes pop out at the posh cars and flashy house and their loudness, and daring and brash attitude. My dear sister be careful of facebook and Twitter sharks who are so eloquent and smooth tongued to match, seeking whom to devour before you turn Social networking celebs to tin gods remember the maxim that says “eni ti o ba ni dele lo le mo ohun ti a je (it is only the person that goes to your house with you that will know what you ate).  There is no approach like the old fashioned face-to-face approach.  There is no substitute for real friends, the kind of which I know you have in plenty. As someone I know on twitter usually says  ”If you don’t have a life outside social networking, then you are fucked big time.”

I am starting to ramble too much , but then what is a excited brother supposed to do. I hope  you find visit me again before the week runs out, so that we can have a proper style champagne popping and who knows, maybe a few bowls of ice cream thrown in as well. Till then I raise my glass from here in a toast to many more productive years ahead HIP! HIP!! HIP!!! HOOORAAAY!!!!

ADDITTIONAL NOTES:

Happy birthday to all my twitter family members who have their birthdays yesterday, especially @babylletbabx. I am sorry this is coming rather late, so I hope you forgive me. I don’t know how old you are this year .  I don’t even know your name, but Twitter has made us friends and therefore I feel obliged to mention you in this piece and in my prayers as well. I hope you had a fine day yesterday and  you enjoyed yourself Long life and prosperity may every good thing you wish come your way and may you enjoy many more years of health and productivity. Amen.

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