I turned 30 just short of one month ago, and honestly it hasn’t quite sink in yet. I feel like, it’s just the way of life, you know? That you got older as the year gone by, and that’s pretty much it. It is the nature of things that I don’t like being told what to do with my life. I hated it, still do actually. And maybe that’s why the idea of growing old never really quite hit me, because I refuse to acknowledge what it all means. But, maybe today that’s about to change.
Today is my baby brother’s 27th birthday. It’s crazy, it honestly is. Because to me, he’s still my baby brother, the one in diaper and the one I told that he was adopted growing up. When you grow up, you change. You become an entirely different person than who you used to be when you were younger. I like to think I didn’t change at all from when I was younger, and to some extent it is true, but looking at how much my brother had changed from when he was still drooling and in diaper, it brought my own life into perspective. But, I’m not here to tell you about my life’s stories (that’s for another time), I’m here to tell you a story of my baby brother, which I will call Lemon in this story. Don’t ask why.
Lemon was born on Friday, 24 May 1991. Mum said he was born during the afternoon. I don’t remember the day Lemon was born, I was three years old at the time Lemon came into this world. But, there was a photo in our family’s photo album of me and my older sister in a hospital, our mum said it was taken the day mum and Lemon was released from the hospital.
Growing up I like to think I hated Lemon, because he took my throne as the youngest child in the family, but honestly I don’t quite remember anything about when Lemon was a kid. Judging from our family photos’ album though, there were quite a number of pictures where I was hugging Lemon on several different occasions, so maybe we have been lovey dovey since we were young.
To be completely honest, I don’t have many memories growing up with Lemon. I had more of childhood stories with my older sister. That might have something to do with the fact that we were only 16 months apart, whilst Lemon and I are three years apart. But when I was in Year 4 of Primary School, I started having memories of Lemon. Back then our family were living apart all over the place. My older sister and I lived with our grandmother, whilst Lemon lived with our mum, and our dad literally lived in a whole other different city. I only saw Lemon and our mum on weekends, even then I didn’t spend it with Lemon, he was always out with his friends.
One day, the lady that works at our parents’ house told me that Lemon came home from school with red stained on his uniform. Now, don’t get alarmed, it’s not blood. It was soda. The lady suspects that someone might have drenched my brother with soda at school. He didn’t say anything about it though. He just went and clean himself up before our mum came back from work. The lady asked my brother about it and her suspicions were proven correct when Lemon told the story. A girl from school threw soda at him, pushed him of the stairs, and has been constantly bullying him for being a new kid at school and a tad bit different. Lemon begged the lady not to tell our mum, he didn’t want our mum to be concerned about it. On the weekend I went and see mum and Lemon, the lady told me about it, and I was fuming. I went straight to mum, and berate her for not standing up for Lemon. Problem is, my mum didn’t knew about it.
That particular event was cemented in my mind that I need to be stronger and better, so as to better protect Lemon. I think it was then I always see Lemon as my baby brother, no matter how old he gets. I knew that our society really didn’t give two fucks about bullying, teachers saw it as healthy banter among friends. Are you fucking kidding me? But it is true, as my story next will prove to you.
It wasn’t until my senior year of Junior High School that all five of us started living together again. When I graduated Junior High School, it was the same year Lemon graduated Primary School. I went to the same High School as my older sister, and Lemon when to the Junior High School next to our High School. I don’t quite remember the detail of this story, it was years ago. But, one day I heard about Lemon being bullied at school, and the memory of the little shit that threw soda at Lemon in Primary School ignite my anger. I went straight to his class and I wreak havoc in that classroom, cementing myself as the evil big sister you don’t want to mess around with.
I was fuming that day, that much I remember. I think my older sister got called after I wreak havoc in Lemon’s classroom. I was angry. I threaten the school to get their shit together. How could they let bullying go unpunished? But, you know what? They thought it was just a banter between classmates and that Lemon was just being too sensitive. I was livid! What ignorant prick would dismiss bullying like that?
Well years later, getting bullied became something that is so common in Lemon’s life that he built a resistance to it. He no longer got affected by it. Then he went to Uni. I honestly think it was both the worst and the best of times of Lemon’s life, but that’s only my opinion, only he knows best.
He studied art, and decided that it wasn’t for him. His official reason was that he didn’t want to be told what and when to draw. Then he study philosophy, and I saw his old self when he was studying philosophy. He looked happy and at ease when he read those God awful (for me of course, not for Lemon, I’m sure he loves those books) philosophy books. He wrote a story so magnificent, I can’t even put my heads around it, and his friend drew it into a comic. He teamed up with his best fried to write comic books; Lemon would write the story and his friends would draw the comics.
My older sister and I were beyond ecstatic every time their comic books got published. I feel like Mushu sending out Mulan into battle. I’m a damn proud sister. Then he decided not to graduate Uni. He said he didn’t feel like it. I never truly know the reason. My suspicion is that he simply wants to spite our dad. Where I am a man driven by vengeance, Lemon is also like that but much (much) more extra. He knew our dad was going to be happy had he graduate Uni, and maybe he didn’t want to give that satisfaction to our dad. This stems from Lemon’s anger towards our dad that has been building up since he was young. But, hey, this is just a theory.
Either way, I can see it in our parents’ eyes, heard it in their sighs, and saw it in the way they spoke of Lemon that it is as if they had given up with Lemon, as if Lemon will never be a man of himself just because he got no diploma of his own. My older sister and I believe he is destined for something different, and we wholeheartedly believe that there’s no one size fits all formula when it comes to success. Lemon was a much better human being than we both combined, his time hasn’t come yet.
Then last year Lemon told us that he got a job. Do you know how that made me feel? Giddy!! I kept on thinking, is this what parents feel like when they heard their kid got their first job, because, boy I am damn proud of Lemon. His first job made twice as much money than I did with my first job, and I got a diploma when I got that job. I was in a good mood the whole day, just from hearing the news that Lemon got a job.
And, so, here we are. Lemon is 27. Lemon have a job. Lemon is working. Lemon is becoming his own person one step at a time, and I am a damn proud sister. Lemon doesn’t talk much, but if you hit the right spot with him, he’ll talk your ears off, he’ll delight you with jokes and memes. Lemon doesn’t like physical contact, he’s not going to hug you or pat your back when you cry, but he’s going to help you in ways he only knows how, and you know that he’s sincere about it. Lemon is the kind of person that doesn’t talk much but his actions will speak louder than the words you’d expect him to say.
It’s still 24 May where I am, but it’s 25 May where you are, but the birthday wishes still count. I hope you had a great day, and an amazing life in the future. I look forward for more surprises from you, Lemon.
I’ll grow older next year, and so would you, but you’ll always be my baby brother.