A Friend in Need (13)
One good thing about counsellors is their ability to listen to people without interrupting. I think it makes them more attractive. After listen to my side of the story, and comparing with Tolani’s earlier display, she was able to reconcile us all with one another. However, the question I asked still remained unanswered and I was dying to know the answer.
Tolani gave me a smile and apologized for her unadvised behaviour. She turned to Tayo, who had not spoken a word since, and gave him a familiar smile. He recognized the signal to mean an apology, wore a smile that didn’t last and shrugged in indifference. He had actually been thinking about my question, he later told me. He and Tolani had truly not discussed the prospects of what they had—if it could even be called a relationship.
Tayo admired Tolani; she was everything a man could want in a woman. There was just one problem: he never thought of marrying her. They had talked about things they would do in the future as married persons, but they never talked about getting married to each other—at least not in any direct terms. Tayo’s concern was that if he told her he never had the intention of marrying her, wouldn’t she be offended?
Tolani immediately deduced from Tayo’s response that something was on his mind. They were once close, so it was easy for her to hear his unspoken words.
“What’s on your mind, Tayo?” Her question jerked him back to consciousness.
“Erm, nothing. Nothing serious.” He tried to hide his being lost in thoughts.
“That makes it easier for you to say, since it’s nothing serious.” Tolani commented. I waited patiently to hear what was on Tayo’s mind and wishing that our thoughts would be the same.
“Let me come in here.” Mrs Okafor interrupted to save Tayo. Somehow, she knew what Tayo could be thinking and foresaw that if he presented it himself, it could raise again a settling dust.
“I prepared a few questions for both Tayo and Tolani to answer. Would you like me to take you through the questions or you prefer to go through them by yourselves? If you choose the later, that means Femi and I would have to excuse you?”
They looked at each other and agreed to have Mrs Okafor coordinate the session. I stood up, pretending I wanted to leave, “You can stay too, Femi.” Tolani said. Tayo concurred with a nod and I was happy because I couldn’t imagine missing a session like that.
She started by appreciating the maturity which they both displayed in handling the matter. Though they overreacted in some cases, she let that off as their being human. She asked different general questions, including how resentful they felt about each other before and after they met her. Their responses seemed pleasing to her. They both agreed that at some point they blamed the other person while they hated themselves. Tolani explained that the counselling sessions were particularly helpful in healing her broken heart. Tayo commended my persistence despite his consistent rejection until I broke through him. He described me as a friend who was closer than a brother—one who was there for him at his hour of need.
The counsellor went further to ask what their plan for the unborn child was. Tolani was the first to respond. She made it clear that one major reason she decided to keep the baby was because of the option of placing him for adoption which would give him the care he deserved. She never thought of that as an option until she met Mrs Okafor. Tayo confessed that he was ill-prepared to father a child at the moment and couldn’t think of a better alternative, especially if the Okafors would be willing to adopt the child.
“Would you still go on with this plan even if my family won’t be able to adopt the baby?”
“But, why?” Tolani asked, feeling disappointed. “During my last scan, I was told the baby’s okay.”
“Tolani, it’s not about you or the baby.” Mrs Okafor replied with a smile.
“Then, why don’t you want him? Or, is it because of anything we said or did?” Tolani’s face was beginning to change.
“As I said, it is neither about you nor is it about Tayo. I have good news.” She paused to assess our reactions, then continued, “The good news is that about a month ago, I discovered that I had taken in too, and that has caused me to reconsider our…”
Before she could finish her sentence, Tolani sprang on her in uncontained excitement. Mrs Okafor who had been waiting for her own bundle of joy for the last 5 years was finally going to have it. We were all happy for her.
“I ask that we keep this secret for now.” Mrs Okafor managed to say after she was released from Tolani’s grasp.
“Let’s come back to you. Since I won’t be able to go through with the adoption anymore, we need to have a concrete plan for the child.” Turning to Tayo, She asked, “What do you suggest?”
“I maintain my initial stance because I still lack the resources—financial resources especially—to cater for the child. However, I believe Tolani’s convenience is paramount and I will support whatever she feels is best for her in this situation.” I was not sure where Tayo was going with this but he was dashing my hopes of being an uncle too soon.
‘Why wouldn’t he want her to nurse the baby herself? I sensed money’s not the main issue there. He was probably trying to get the baby as far from him as possible so that his parents wouldn’t know. That must be it!’ I needed a proof to ascertain the theory in my thoughts. I shifted in my seat, thinking of what to say. NO! Not again. Talking at that time was a bad idea.
“Tolani, the ball is in your court. What do you think is best for you?” Mrs Okafor asked.
“I … I don’t know. I just want the baby to be fine and well taken care of. I really wish there was something I could do.” Tolani’s answer showed that she was having second thoughts about the initial plan.
To be continued…