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Brother's Keeper

 If you asked me, it, the beginning of the end, started one Sunday evening, with a phone call from my brothers’ principal that said Datonye and Damiebi had been suspended for a month.

They could have been twins, my older brothers. Odd, considering their different mothers. Datonye, my half-brother, was a year older than Damiebi and the result of a fling my father never spoke about, not even to my mother. If she resented this or him, she hid it well. Damiebi – her firstborn, her pride – was, after all, my father’s legitimate heir. If Datonye resented this, he hid it even better. They were close, for half brothers. Best friends, confidants, twins if you didn’t know better. And so perhaps, you understand why they did what they did.

“What offence this time?” my father asked, his face a mask of irritation.

Two boys had been sighted kissing in an empty classroom on Friday night. Both had escaped, one without his ‘D. Carpenter’ monogrammed sweater.

On one hand, there was Datonye, with his tattoos and love for experimental drugs. Just the month before, he’d been caught selling skin magazines. Two weeks before that, he had wandered into the school chapel, looking stoned. Nothing could be proved but one more offence, he’d been warned, and he’d be suspended an entire term. Damiebi wasn’t a saint either, he was a notorious flirt and he’d been caught more than once smoking cigs but last year, he’d won the school a gold medal at the national chess tournament. His almost perfect grades, his easy charm and his ready smile guaranteed his favor with the school authorities.

And so the homosexual incident was an easy case, would have been an easy case if both my brothers hadn’t admitted to being the culprit. If both hadn’t refused to disclose the name of the other boy who’d escaped.

The principal was exasperated at Damiebi. Yes, it was admirable that he lied to protect his brother and yes, he was a star student but  it was a Baptist School, such depravity could not be tolerated and examples had to be made…they were both suspended.

Mama’s face was carefully neutral as she finished the narrative. I fingered my braids as I hazarded a look at my father. He looked like he was chewing on rotten fish.

“The suspension is effective when?”

“Tomorrow,” Mama answered, reclaiming the seat she had vacated to answer the call. “I’ll send the driver to go get them.”

“No. Let them go to Benin and stay with Priye.”


“Because it’s suspension not a holiday. Because it’s a one hour drive from Warri to Benin, five hours less than the journey here.”

“They could fly. And if Datonye is … what they say he is, shouldn’t he see a psychiatrist here in Lagos?”

“They go to Benin.” Daddy replied, his tone brooking no contradiction, and no discussion on the possible sexual orientation of his sons.


If you asked Daddy, he would say it started with the stranger in our living room. The one who said he was a policeman, whose words found my ears as if he had shouted down a very long tunnel.

“There’s been an accident…on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway…one boy is in the hospital with minor injuries…the driver and the second boy, so sorry…they died…”

Damiebi died.

My father’s head dropped into hands. “What…” his voice broke with his grief. “What…were they doing on the road to Lagos?”


If you asked Mama, she would say it started at Damiebi’s funeral as the reality sunk in that  her son would smile no more. She whispered the chilling words, then screamed them hysterically, clawing at Datonye, spitting in his face till she was physically restrained.

“It should have been you!” Not her Damiebi.  The gay bastard should have been the one in the casket.

And  Datonye stood still as she raved, gnawing his lower lip to stop the tears that wouldn’t stop…


If you asked me, it ended when the school sent my brothers’ personal belongings, including the offensive sweater. And there, written in white thread, were the letters “D. Carpenter.” And I remembered a hot afternoon, sitting down with my brothers as the tailor marked their clothing, and Datonye insisting that his clothes be monogrammed with black thread…


    • Nothing. I sometimes ask myself how far I’m willing to go for my siblings. And the answer is as far as necessary. I hope I always feel like this. Thanks for reading, Tosin.

  1. Femi Daniel says

    Such talent again!!
    And you left the twist to the end…..
    Apparently, the culprit has gone to sleep…
    Apparently, the villain is relatively saintly…
    Nice one!! Great work!!!
    Much respect!!!

  2. stella says

    Booking front row seat….for your awards on excellent write ups.

    Girl your good!

  3. Temi O. says

    I love this. It’s amazing when a story makes me think, has life. My first time on your blog and I’m already reading posts in 2012. Please, never stop writing.

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