I woke up startled, my eyes caught the remnant of a roadkill splattered on the road….as the train whizzed past the highway. I felt a kink in my neck, reminding me of the awkward position I had fallen asleep in. I straightened my torso and picked up my blanket- it had fallen on the floor while I slept.
I was almost there. I had taken the train after work to meet up with my brother, Kolade. My twin and I used to share a loft in the city, till he found a new job and moved to a quiet suburb a couple of hours away by car…or at least the job is the excuse he used to move away.
We are identical in features but our varying taste in clothes made it easy to tell the difference. I favoured tailored shirts, pants, and sports jackets….my twin was more than likely found in his baggy jeans, colorful t shirts and timberland boots. And then those dreads! In our senior year in high school much to the chagrin of my conservative Nigerian born parents, he decided to grow dreadlocks. My parents eventually gave in. I was certain he would out grow the look. I was wrong. We were in our late twenties and the dreads had surpassed his waist in length.
In college, we shared the same apartment. We had the same friends, hung out in the same social circuits…and up until two years ago, we basically were two peas in a pod…co existing with each other in absolute synchrony. Our relationship has never been with tension. When we were younger, if Kolade favored a toy, I always gave it up. If I wanted something he got to first, he always gave it to me. We never fought as children and even when we became teenagers and started showing interest in the opposite sex, we never favored the same type of girls and so there were never issues on jealousy.
My brother always liked quiet, deep thinkers. Which was laughable considering his appearance. He was into jazz, poetry and subtle sexuality. He spent hours on the weekend in jazz holes, playing his bass guitar and sharing lyrics with mutual friends. For as long as I knew him, he never overlapped when dating a girl. A strictly one woman man, that was my brother.
I, on the other hand was the opposite. I juggled my dates with the dexterity of a sybarite. My ability to remember names and conversations in details made me appear as deep and intuitive to the opposite sex. Women loved men who payed attention to details and listened to them. They lapped it up and found me irresistible.
One night a couple of years ago, I bought home a girl after several dates, Mabel. In the morning, while I rushed off to work…Kolade made her breakfast. My brother knows my attention span when it came to the ladies never went beyond a couple of months….at most. As I rushed off to work, I felt an alarm go off in my head. ‘Why is Kola making this chick breakfast?’
As usual, I started ignoring her texts…calls and emails. I had moved on. Then ,the calls stopped. I didn’t think much of it. After all, she wasn’t the first and definitely would not be the last. So, imagine my surprise when I got home early one Saturday evening and I met her watching a movie with my twin. Her hair was russeled, she was wearing his favorite metallica t shirt. They were both all snuggly on our black leather couch.I wasn’t angry. Far from it. I did worry though about the awkwardness dating her would have on our relationship. My love for my brother defined who I was. It was absolute. He followed me into my room.
I knew he was nervous. He had a durag on his head…covering his dreads, customarily his indoor look…my eyes were fastened on his Adam’s apple….it bobbed up.and down as he swallowed saliva. I raised my eyes to his…my gaze unflinching. “I like her Kole”. He got out, his voice soft. I shrugged. This will get awkward bro. I responded. He knew I didn’t care and my concern was for him.He assured me it wouldn’t. I smiled and shrugged again.
To say it got awkward was an understatement. She always stopped speaking whenever I came into the room. She lingered too much when Kole left the room. Her eyes followed me around the apartment, despite not speaking. The tension was building, my brother seemed oblivious to it.
On our birthday later that year, she bought him a beautiful case for his guitar and awkwardly handed me a wrapped square box. I was taken aback. ‘Why?’. For the first time in months, I felt a smarting of shame at my behaviour. It’s your birthday, too. It was the outstanding on a collection of books I had been hunting for. I thanked her and left for dinner with my friends.
It was easy to move on after breaking up with a girl. I never felt an attack on conciense before…until now. Even though guilt wrapped itself around me like a blanket, I tried to shrug it off. None of my conquests have ever stayed back to date my twin before. It was a weird feeling. I had no interest in her and had deliberately forgotten every detail I had initially had in the fore of my mind….details that had endeared me to her. ‘Selective amnesia’ was a gift I switched on when it benefited me. A couple of weeks later, my twin announced he had found a job a couple of hours away. In my heart, I knew the awkwardness that settled on me had caught on to him. She helped him pack while I was away on a business trip. I returned to find him gone. My brother was gone. We still spoke every day…always late at night. From time to time, she would insist to speak with me. Her voice always a bit too high…a tad breathless. I always felt the beginnings of irritation when our conversation was over. For the umpteenth time, I would wonder and hope my twin had no intentions of marrying her.
He had invited me to visit so many times, I always found an excuse not to. When he mentioned Mabel was away visiting her parents, I immediately bought my train ticket. He was my twin….my ‘pea in a pod’. This weekend,I was going to do everything in my power…with subtlety of course, to ensure she was not going to be a permanent fixture of our future.