I have two brothers – both younger than me. I’m particularly closer to our second born, Zak. Lately, he’s been visiting me in the office a lot more than I would like family to. I suspect he’s always here because of our boss’ secretary. He’s shy and is yet to muster the courage to ask her out. I could help him out, but how would he ever learn to fend for himself. Even lionesses let their cubs into the action at times, to pass on the survival skills in the jungle.

Sally is the secretary. She’s a temp standing in for a new mother on her second month of maternity leave. It’s her seventh week on the job and she’s a fast learner. Office rumour has it she’s sleeping with the boss. And I have reason to believe this is true. There’s rarely smoke without fire. I once bumped into them at the Windsor. I have no moral authority to judge – I was with a mubabaz of my own. That was long before Sally joined the company but her face is not easy to forget. She’s beautiful, yes, but spends too much time on make-up. She does it well though. Her closet is one I secretly admire but I wouldn’t admit it to anyone even if a gun was held to my head. She’s slightly taller than me but when we stand side by side her heels make her look like a model fresh from shooting a Nivea commercial. And you would not be wrong to think I’m the make-up artiste. I understand why my brother would have sleepless nights over her but I obviously don’t think she would be a good fit for my him. Again, I’m still in no position to pass judgement.

Zak is in Nairobi University, doing interior design. Dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps, maybe do political science. But the boy rebelled and set out to chart his own path. It was a heated discussion that lasted a few weeks. My mother and I were the not-so-neutral mediators. Mom obviously, took her husband’s side while I argued in favour of the boy.

Dad eventually relented and Zak went on to pursue his passion. I say passion because he’s a really creative boy. He can turn any house into the Ritz Carlton when it comes to finishing, lighting, ambience, et cetera. I’d have hated to see that innate talent waste away at some political rally somewhere in Migori searching for votes from wananchi or worse, as one of those know-it-all political scientists who do nothing but send endless tweets with prophesies of where the country is headed, doom and gloom, with a random cameo on NTV to dissect political strategy.

When I was moving out, his skills came in handy in designing my fortress.

Till now, guys ask me about my house and which magic hands worked on it. Then I refer them, gladly and with pride. His future is bright. He’s making a decent living even while at school, in his third year. But I pray the money doesn’t get to his head and make him drop out. He also has a sizeable following on Instagram which is growing steadily.

My other brother is Tush. Not as bright but beautifully made by the Lord. He is handsome and I think God spent a few more hours on him, perfecting his every inch of that face, nose, eyes and chin. I’ve ended a few friendships because girls wanted to date him. He’s turning eighteen in a few weeks. And dating working class girls isn’t exactly what I, as a big sister, have envisioned for him. Worse still, if the girls are my close friends. I don’t care if he looks like Tom Cruise in a damn Embraer pilot uniform.

Tush is a charmer. He can sell you air. He’s that good at convincing. I see him joining me in sales. I keep mentioning this to him with the hope it rubs off onto him. But I have a feeling he’ll take a different course altogether. He thinks I work too much for too little.

I shuffle up the stairs and get to the second floor.

Zak is at the reception and Sally is behind the desk busy working the intercom. As a temp, she gets bounced off practically every workstation. I’m not surprised he chose to wait there instead of at my cubicle. That doesn’t bother me much because he looks sad and his eyes are moist.

“What’s up Zak?” I say. “Everything okay.”

“It’s Tush…he… he’s…” the words are too painful to spit out.

“What Zak, what? What’s wrong with Tush?” I’m known for a lot of good qualities but you wouldn’t find patience on that list.

I hold both his hands. Try to calm him down enough to regain his speech.

He seems even more distraught. He sinks his face in his palms and sobs even more.

“”Sally, can I get a tissue please?”

She’s on the phone busy lying to some supplier, but points to the boardroom door which is just a few feet away from where Zak and I are seated. I hurry and right before I push, it swings open and I’m met with party honkers unfurling, and a loud “Happy birthday!” Confetti is falling down the guys as they charge toward me. I am genuinely in shock and surprised and retreating as they reach for me, arms wide open, warm smiles.

My heart almost stops. I look back at Zak and he’s suddenly not crying anymore. The fake tears are gone and he’s laughing. Sally is smiling and not as busy routing calls now.

The entire team is there. Even the accountant and they know how much I hate them. How dare they? But I won’t let them spoil my surprise. Everyone is all smiles. Tush emerges from the back of the frenzy with a huge vanilla cake. My boss is behind him with a bottle.

Since we sell wines, the boss had requested a few bottles from the warehouse. Tumblers are ready and we toast and make merry after we cut the cake and it makes the rounds. It’s three thirty and a glass wouldn’t hurt. I’m just worried the accounts guys will overdo, as they are known for. They are generally stingy but when it comes to booze, free or not, they throw it to the wind and never count the losses.

I turn to Zak and Tush and with tears rolling down my cheeks I say, “I love you boys.”

This was a surprise. A good one at that.

We hug.

The small party lasts close to an hour. It’s almost 05:00 pm and most of the crowd has dispersed back to their desks and others are ready to head home.

The boss comes over, his satchel over the left shoulder and car keys in hand, “Enjoy the day but not too much. We have the sales meeting tomorrow, it has been pushed forward from Friday and the CEO has confirmed attendance. Send me the presentation, I’d like to review it before then.”

If only he knew. I’m still on slide one.

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