The latest story in our reader series comes from a young woman, Ngeri, who is “still personally working through my anger with my father for taking away my best friend”—her brother, who’s currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. Her deep resentment toward her father stems from his absenteeism, flagrant infidelity, and the domestic violence that nearly killed her mother. She suggests that her brother’s close but toxic affinity to their father contributed to the “adventurous and inquisitive boy”’s eventual depression, bipolar disorder, drug addiction, and violent outbursts—even toward Ngeri, using a knife.
But let her tell the long story—one of the most compelling and well-crafted ones we’ve received thus far:
My younger brother is currently serving a 19-year prison sentence for dropping off two friends at a house where he did not know they had plotted to kill an elderly couple.
It’s hard to hear him referenced now as an Inmate with an identification number. I have many other names I apply to him, all with loving or funny stories associated with them. These days I know he hardly hears any of those stories, and that hurts.
We are 14 months apart. He was my first best friend. We did everything together. We shared a room with a bunk bed, went to the same school, shared many of the same friends, and even shared meals. Why did our lives end up taking such different paths?
Him being in trouble had become a norm in my life. When we were younger, it was the little things like climbing the shed in the backyard and other dare devilish stunts. Most of them could be chalked up to him just being an adventurous and inquisitive boy. I had no idea then that his trouble would leave the comforts of our home, and begin to involve law enforcement.
My brother adored our father. He always wanted to make him proud. Our father called him “Agu-Nna Ya,” which stands for father’s lion in Igbo. My brother loved hearing that. Our father would promise him endless things and leave much to be desired every single time.