We finally married off Kuya yesterday! I breathed a deep sigh of relief (as deep as my fitted bodice would allow) when my older brother and his bride showed up at Church.
You couldn’t know if one of them would opt to jump off the cliffs of Tagaytay instead. Or run back to the slightly less stressful environment of the hospitals where they work as physicians.
I watched the program afterwards in peace without needing to make a toast or tell an anecdote, only later being forced to shamefully endure my own groom-to-be slip a garter up my leg while “I wanna go higher..” played in the background and friends and family cheered him on.
That was only a little bit more terrifying than addressing an audience. So here I am writing instead.
The sister-in-law usually says something to the tune of, “I’ve lost a brother but gained a sister” which hardly applies in this case. My new ate has, over the course of thirteen years, changed my brother into a patient, generous, and almost unrecognizable human being, one finally in tune with his feminine side.
I like to entertain the thought that yes, I may have lost a brother, but I’ve actually gained two sisters.
Kuya and his wife are the only couple I know who’ve been dating longer than my fiancée and I have. By now his wife must have discovered his secret identity. That my brother is actually a hero.
Although his bald head is more inspired by Professor X.
I’m nearly eight years his junior. In my younger days when I had trouble with my playmates, I called on my Kuya and all he had to do was glare and they would scurry away.
Nah, he never hit anyone. In that first neighborhood, at least. That I know of.
I must have been five years old when I first decided to reciprocate his duty. I was a guest at Kuya’s elementary class Christmas party when I witnessed what I thought was a Royal Rumble. (He made me watch a lot of WWF. Looking back, it was obviously mindless horseplay. Mindless.)
I didn’t stop to think. I ran over to the kid wrestling my brother to the ground, grabbed fistfuls of his hair and pulled, shouting “Don’t hurt my kuya!” I flushed with triumph when his attacker yelled in pain. (Then I flushed in embarrassment when everyone else just laughed.)
To this day and probably for the rest of my life I will bear this man’s influence. My confidence (arrogance), laconism (unsociableness), and sense of humor (sarcasm), but also courage, loyalty, and tenderness: all from him.
It only just occurred to me that I won’t have that hero around anymore, and I will no longer be able to rush to his defense in return. Kuya’s wife will have to take my place as protector.
Though if she does have to pull out anyone’s hair in the future, I do hope it won’t be her mother-in-law’s. Because in about two weeks’ time that mother-in-law’s nest will empty.
Her two darling freaks of nature will spread their wings over another home. Maybe often fly to the rescue of their helpless and exasperated spouses.
When they do, they promise to circle back once in a while and in the process even help to save the world.
See you around, Kuya and Ate.