My brother Edward is a curious cat: A personal essay

Edward Sabalburo/Courtesy
Edward Sabalburo/Courtesy

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I spent the 676 days immediately after my birth in complete and utter loneliness. By this, I mean I was without the person who would become my lifelong partner in crime, apprentice and pain in my ass: My brother, Edward. Edward knows me better than anyone in this world or beyond it. He has always been able to read me with unerring precision, even during the rare parts of our relationship when I opted not to confide in him. He is both my Achilles’ heel and my little finger heart.

My mother tells me that sometime during my first 676 days of life I started praying for a little brother. Having gotten my wish, I view my brother as nothing less than a gift to me personally, a soul entrusted to my care. As such, I like few things more than doting on the whims of my brother, save perhaps bullying him the way only an older brother can. This piece which you are now reading is my attempt to feed the two wolves inside me — the one who adores my brother unceasingly and the one who craves his humiliation.

My brother Edward is a curious cat. For one, he decided to attend UCLA despite his admission to UC Berkeley, a truly baffling decision. I suspect his decision had something to do with wanting to make a name for himself, independent of my influence. This was a difficult thing to do — for both of us — since, during the bulk of our lives, we were bred to be identical copies of one another. As the younger sibling, he had much less say in who we would become. He may not see it, but he has accomplished great things all on his own, free of my gravitational pull. 

If I ever found something new and interesting, I would compel him to read, watch or listen to it as well and vice versa.

We truly did everything together, from earning our black belts in taekwondo to developing a shared love for Super Smash Bros. If I ever found something new and interesting, I would compel him to read, watch or listen to it as well and vice versa. It was not until high school when we began to diversify as people, though at that point it was too late for us to develop into properly “separate” people. No, we were and are intrinsically synced, and I am sure to share with him all that the political economy major teaches me while he endeavors to instruct me in the ways of computer science engineers.

I think his greatest virtue is joy, which certainly did not come from me, his micromanaging guardian. A less observant fellow might diagnose his jokes and hooligan energy as immaturity. I think it’s a protest against apathy or the misery of our hegemonic overlords. (To be clear, he would probably also ascribe his buffoonery to immaturity, but maybe someday he’ll see things my way). His dedication to joy melts the inhibitions of those around him, letting everyone involved participate communally in his maniacal laughter.

He likes to sing; he doesn’t have a good voice, but he does like to do it. The same goes for dancing. He likes nothing more than publicly outsmarting me in conversation, mostly because of how rarely it happens. I like these talks we have, whether it’s with spectators in the backseat of my car or privately on the phone every other day. I look forward to hearing what he thinks and feels about everything I think and feel about.

While I have never had a problem letting myself down, my spirit writhes at the prospect of disappointing my brother, of being a bad “kuya.”

The one thing I could never tell Edward is how much I need him. As my “ading” — the Tagalog word for “little sibling” — he feeds my fragile ego just by virtue of being my little brother. His existence testifies to the seemingly untestable hypothesis that we hold dramatic sway in the lives of those we love. I owe much, if not all, of my success to having that kid behind my back, looking up to me. While I have never had a problem letting myself down, my spirit writhes at the prospect of disappointing my brother, of being a bad “kuya.”

It would be an understatement to say Edward is both my proudest accomplishment and my greatest treasure. I have never been good enough to deserve him, and I have no doubt that I never will be, but I march on in the pursuit of being his best possible brother. 

I will have the privilege of spending this Valentine’s Day with Edward, the person I probably love most in this world. I look forward to telling him that this is an actual piece published by my school’s paper. He will undoubtedly tell me I am lame, which might be true, but I need him to know how much he means to me. I need him to know that I would do anything for him, that I would even write a cheesy Valentine’s Day poem for him:   

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

I love my brother,

At public university number two.

Contact Edrick Sabalburo at esa[email protected]

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