A Friend in Need (8)
An awkward silence followed and you could have heard a pin drop. Unquestionably, it wasn’t Tolani who answered the call. Before their break up, they talked about many things but for no particular reasons, they hardly talked about each other’s family. Looking back now, one can only guess that they were driven by mere infatuation or probably had more interesting topics to hash out. However, on one or two occasions, they did talk about their families. Tayo had written about Tolani speaking of herself as the youngest child and only daughter among her parents’ children. She had three other siblings who were all married.
Tayo was more convinced that the person whose voice he just heard wasn’t Tolani, neither could it have been any of her siblings’ because—as much as he knew—she had no female sibling.
He kept mute, listening to hear if he could recognize the voice. Since the phone was on loudspeaker, I listened too, although I’d never met her or heard her voice.
“Hello?” The voice said again. “Who am I speaking with?” This time around, it was obvious that the he didn’t know the person, and most likely, she didn’t know him too. Somehow, I agreed that it wasn’t Tolani’s voice. The woman sounded more elderly, like she was in her thirties or something like that, whereas I expected Tolani to be in her early twenties.
I collected the phone from Tayo when I noticed that he was disappointed that it was not Tolani who answered the call.
“Hello, good afternoon ma. I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.” I apologized quickly.
“That’s okay. Good afternoon.” She said forgivingly.
“I’d like to speak with the owner of this line, please.” I pushed my luck.
“You still haven’t identified yourself.” She said softly.
“Oh, again, I’m so sorry. I’m a friend to the owner’s friend.” My reply was evasive and equivocal, hoping she wouldn’t press any further.
Unfortunately, she did when she said, “If you don’t mind my asking, which of her friends exactly are you a friend to?”
Don’t mention my name! Tayo gestured from where he stood. I gave him a no-other-choice look. Think of something else, He seemed to be saying.
“Tayo,” I answered rashly, ignoring his pleas. Pained but unoffended, he placed his hands on his head as we awaited her reply.
“Hmm, Tayo’s friend.” She hesitated a little further before continuing, “So, how can I help you.”
“We’re calling to ask after Tolani.” Tayo drew closer.
“Did you say ’we’? That means Tayo is there with you. Well, Tolani is fine, but I’m sorry you can’t speak with her now.”
“I get it, but could you please just let her know that Tayo wanted to speak with her. He’s been worried since they parted ways and he is really sorry for everything that happened.” Tayo kept nodding as I spoke.
“Is that really why you are calling?” The woman asked in a surprised tone.
“Sincerely. That is why we called. We’d be grateful if you could even tell us how and where we can find her.” Tayo seemed to disagree with that idea but there was nothing he could do seeing I had already said it.
“In that case, I’m going to have to call you back much later because I’m in the middle of something right now. Plus, I’ll have to discuss with her first.” She said.
“We understand and appreciate your efforts and kindness ma. Thank you very much.”
“You are welcome.” But just before she ended the call, she added, “I’m wondering why you are the one doing the talking for Tayo.”
“I’m right here.” Tayo said quickly.
“Oh. Congratulations, Tayo! You are having a boy. Bye for now.” And the line went dead before we could give expression to our thoughts.
“A boy?!” We chorused together.
To be continued…