I have a million and one things I could describe as my favourite memory. I am one very undecided person and sometimes I find myself changing my mind more than is usually allowed. I’ve been around for more than twenty years and have met people from all walks of life. Many have given me moments to be thankful for and always remember. However, I choose your birth as my favourite for today. Those months building up to your arrival were the slowest for me, and my excitement knew no bounds. I was finally going to have that which I had often wished for: a baby brother.
You arrived that October day and I knew you were special in many ways. We called you our Millennium baby and I felt greatly connected to you. Of the whole family, I think Amie and I were the most excited for your arrival. I, because I felt older and felt I could now take care and control one more person. Amie, because she would now have someone to share the burden of being Jama’s younger sibling with. We didn’t allow the people around us any breathing space, for we wanted everyone to know we had a brother. Eight days later, we stopped calling you ‘neneh bi‘ and started using your new name: Bai Mahmoud Jack. A name taken from the venerable Bai Mahmoud Niasse of the well-known Niassen sect.
You grew up pretty fast and I remember the many weekends we spent together. You were then the highlight of our visits and at the end of each one, we would already begin planning the next. Everyone doted on you and I felt great pride each time I went out with you and had people coo over your cute self. All the while, I’d keep muttering ‘kaar kaar’ under my breath. As you grew older, our fights started. Even at your tender age, you exuded so much confidence in the little power you had, and one couldn’t help admiring that. When you cried, we all rushed to your side to comfort you, while waiting for the next bout. At some point, you could never really do any wrong in our eyes.
I remember your cunning tricks, getting everyone into trouble, while you stood back and laughed. You grew up teaching us how to dance, for that was just how connected you were to the new trends. At age five, you could dance better than Amie and me. I still remember how famous you were at the tabala gatherings your mother usually took us to. I look back at those days and laugh at your sudden change of comportment when we threatened to tell on you, just so we could share the money people had showered you with. Papa had made it his duty to remind you of the great mind you were named after and around him, you would always drown us in your ‘hey man Serign lenj ma tuday’ and ‘maneh, man kilifa laa‘ lines.
When I left, you were one of the people I missed the most. I would usually look forward to our phone calls as you’d always crack me up. On Eid days, you would give me detailed descriptions of your outfit and the whole day’s activities. They fed my nostalgia, while making me wish I were with you all. When we talk on other days, you’d tell me how your school days are going. My heart is warmed when I hear you say ‘I am trying hard, so I can be like you’. It reassures me that my brother s going to be a great man, for he knew what he wanted from an early age. Recently, you’ve added prayers to our conversations. You insist on praying for me, further reminding me about your being a kilifa.
I’ve missed you a lot and I know when I finally come back,you would have been old enough to make us even more proud. I’m hoping you’ll still realise you’re the youngest and not try to step over the lines. Last summer, you wanted to prove you had grown strong by grabbing my thighs and lifting me all the way up. I hope you use that energy to serve a good purpose. You’ve always been caring and have shared every little thing you had with those around you. I can’t wait to see you grow into that fine gentleman we all look forward to, embodying the qualities of a selfless and true Muslim brother. I have missed you so much and pray I see you again soon. When we do, I’m sure you’ll no longer go around town telling everyone ‘suma makk yi nyow nenj‘. Stay in school, stay focused, catch your dreams and let’s make Papa proud!