Having grown up with only a sister for a sibling, I always wished for a brother. And my wish was granted when I married my husband, because his younger brother became mine.
My brother-in-law (henceforth called N) is four years younger than me and about a foot taller. At a gangly 6.4”, he’s like a pole with a loud, carrying voice that could wake the dead. When my daughter was born, I still remember how we’d all loudly shush him the minute he’d enter the house. Otherwise, as soon as he started speaking, you could be sure the baby would wake up!
I’ve been married eight and a half years now, and for the first five years of marriage, N lived with us. When people hear that, they always give me this pitying look filled with sympathy, as if to say, “Oh poor you. What a burden you’ve had to bear.” But if you ask me, I was blessed to have N live with us. I look at those five years as a time that not only brought us closer as a family but also cemented our relationship – his and mine.
Of course, there were days when he got on my nerves, as I’m sure I did on his. But every time I felt self-pity rise in my heart, God would tell me to go back and repair the damage. We had our share of arguments, mostly one-sided from my end because he’d never have a clue why I was annoyed to begin with. He’d patiently listen to every complaint I made and truly change any maddening habit.
Eventually, I learnt to accept him as he is. I always appreciate how far he’d go to accommodate my requests, like taking me to a bistro at 9 p.m. because I had pregnancy cravings to eat sausages! We have long conversations about life and people and he always listens to all my stories. However, having a brother means that I have to also listen to (extremely boring) conversations on sports between him and my husband (since I couldn’t very well contribute, being a complete ignoramus on the subject). Now this was a whole new world to me. I didn’t realise how seriously they took it until I got married. Suddenly my evenings were spent watching “Sports Center” – the most mind-numbingly boring show on TV (I guess that's how MasterChef feels to men)! I never knew that a significant portion of the population thrived on sports news, and that it’s actually a thing! I would hear long drawn-out arguments about football, cricket, tennis, and Formula 1 racing. Now, after all these years, I have the dubious pleasure of knowing that Klopp is building the Liverpool team along the lines of what Ferguson achieved with Manchester United, that Senna and Schumacher were the all-time greats who raced in an era when a driver’s skill and expertise was tested rather than the car itself, and that Federer is the greatest on the grass court while Nadal reigns supreme on clay. If all that sounded like gibberish to you, don’t worry (though I’m sure when N reads this, he’ll be inordinately pleased with me).
Living with two boys meant having to up my cooking game as well. I still remember how I used to cook approximately 1 kg of chicken, believing it would last at least 3 meals. Only to find to my dismay that it took only one meal to finish the lot! We eventually reached a compromise to ensure food lasted longer – I cooked more and he ate less.
When N moved away to a different city, I missed him but I also knew that it was time for him to make his own way in the world. Nevertheless, I cherish the time we had together. Living in the same house taught me to accept others’ differences, even enjoy them. Being an introvert myself, I found his extroverted buoyancy a bit alarming initially. But gradually, I learnt to see beyond the laughter and inappropriate jokes to the genuinely kind, thoughtful, and sensitive person he is. At times he would use humour to deflect attention from his hurt or pain. So I learnt to ignore the teasing and pranks, pushing him to face his real feelings. He doesn’t always appreciate my interference, but that’s my prerogative as his older sister!
God has placed special men in each of our lives; and when we take the time and effort to understand them, it will bless us.
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