There used to be 10 of us: Four girls and six boys.
Picture growing up with this number of siblings; sufficient brothers to protect you, and just enough sisters to bond and be mischievous with.
Now we’re nine, and the males still outnumber us by one.
Cue our family portrait. 10 cheeky offspring grinning from ear to ear, and two parents smiling through the crowd. Then a shadow glosses over one of us, blanking out his image.
Rest in power and peace, bro.
Before the term ‘blended’ came to be, we were the visual attestation of it. Our mum, a widow, with four children. Our stepfather, a widower, with four of his own as well. They were also both ihwo Urhobo; their villages not very faraway from each other. Their native content was even a perfect match too – 99.9%.
Coincidence? ajo, OboOghene.
Together, they doubled the amount of competition and camaraderie amongst us, and went ahead to add two more offspring (a gender each) to douse that fire, rounding us off to a neat number 10.
With this many people dwelling together – different personalities, unique perspectives, peculiar habits – surely it resulted in stifling accommodation, and less personal space per individual.
Our three- bedroom bungalow was expansive (save for the kitchen). The living room was sectioned into two different ones because the space allowed for it; and there was a two – bedroom boys’ quarters at the back of the building, where all the males lived.
The age differences between us children influenced our presence at home. By the time the blending took place, our stepfather’s children were teenagers while our mum’s were much younger.
Diverse levels of education kept us apart too, and it was a rare occasion to have all ten of us present at the same time at home. At any given period, there were four to six of us at home; most of whom were our mum’s.
However, it didn’t deter the bonding, the bickering, the fights, the fondness or the rivalry amongst us. We were, after all, siblings, and that’s what siblings do – whether from the same set of parents, sharing a parent or connected by a blended family.
Then there were the co-ordinates of our house…
oniovo – sibling
ihwo urhobo – urhobo people
ajo – no
OboOghene – hand of God
photo credit: istockphoto.com