Our brother’s name is Lati; short for Abdullahteef. He was born seven years after me. He is the only son of my parents and the last born. We are five in number.
At the beginning; when we were much younger, we thought that Lati was being pampered by our parents because he is the only son and being the baby of the family, everyone, me included just wanted to protect him, though, I think my parents over did it. You know how parents can be with an only child, an only boy or girl? Yes, my parents gave Lati everything he asked for, if he wanted my mother’s eye balls, I swear, she would have plucked them out and handed it to him on a golden plate. Yes, he was that spoilt; though at some point they tried to instill some discipline, especially when neighbours began to report him for bad behaviour or when the schools my parents enrolled him in, kicked him out. He was kicked out of three schools.
My father? He was no different from my mother; he would take Lati out, he would indulge him; he would buy him gifts. It was as if Lati could really do no wrong in my parents’ eyes.
Ok, so let me say here that, it’s not as if our parents don’t do anything for us the girls. They did but they made us work harder than Lati who is a boy. We were cooking, cleaning, learning trade, going to school, learning even to drive and change tyres, and yet, Lati, who you will expect my parents to teach how to drive and change tyres, was always exempted and yet my father would insist we be there when these were being done.
One day, I found something in my mother’s room, in one of the back drawers of her wardrobe. I discovered a plastic file with several papers. I didnt just chance on it, I was helping my mother clean her wardrobe. In the file, there were prescriptions, empty drug packs, referral letters from one doctor to another…bottom line, I discovered our Lati is mental!
My parents had been taking him to see several doctors at Yaba psychiatric hospital; they had also gone to the psycho-neurology hospital at Abeokuta, the one at Aro.
How did I find out?
I read through it all, though most of it made no sense to me; that’s how I knew my brother was a mental case.
So, that explained for me why they weren’t so keen on the discipline they instilled in Lati because the boy would never learn to be normal. It explained why it seemed they indulged the boy even till when he was 20 years old. It explained a lot of the mad things that went on in our house. One of it is the rape of my sister by my brother. Something my parents made us vow never to tell outsiders!
A few months ago, my parents woke up to noise from my youngest sister’s room, Fatimoh. Now, Fatimoh is 23 years; a graduate of Biochemistry, she finished her NYSC two years and now works as a teller at one of these banks.
And let me add that our father gave Fatimoh the boys quarters, as it is only her and Lati that are left in the house, the rest of us are married and living with our husbands.
At first, I remember I told my father that Lati should be the one to move into the boys quarters, leaving Fatimoh in the main house but both of them were always fighting. Lati never learned to respect Fatimoh, meanwhile Fatimoh herself, does not help matters, she can be a real agbaya at times, mocking Lati mercilessly.
That morning, Fatimoh had just returned from taking her bath, and rubbing cream on her body when Lati pounced on her. He locked the door, beat her up then raped her. His own sister!
By the time I got to the house; Fatimoh was looking like a trailer ran over her body! She was threatning to go to the police station but my parents were begging her.
I had to beg her too. Or what am I expected to do? He is my brother; she is my sister. He is not well, he is a mental case. What do we do?
Fatimoh has moved out! She lives with another sister. We can’t talk about the rape because las-las, we can’t let people know our brother is mental…
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories.)