A Friend in Need (18)
Tayo dissented with Mrs Okafor on the idea. I don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe he was expecting her to hand him a script that he would perform while breaking the news. On the contrary, his counsellor had other plans. He tried to dissuade her on the grounds of her health to which she replied, “I feel better than you. Everyone here can testify to that.” She was right. Tayo’s look said more than his mouth; he was sick within.
“I know you feel okay, but ma, the journey is long and you shouldn’t be driving yet.” He pushed harder to see if he could deter her from going.
“You say that like it’s more than an hour drive from here. It won’t hurt to drive that far.” Mrs Okafor insisted, noting Tayo’s reluctance.
“Are you not going to say anything?” He was facing me now. “Or, are you with her on this?”
“Except you have a better plan, I am. It’s you she’s trying to help, Tayo.” I would have offered to drive but neither Tayo nor I had a driver’s licence yet. My dad had insisted that I wait till after graduation before getting mine.
“Debby can drive you there.” Tolani chipped in.
“Oh dear, I know she’d want to but I’ll prefer her to stay at home and take care of you.” Mrs Okafor said, turning to Tolani.
“I’ll be fine on my own. Plus I have an appointment with Doctor Sarah at noon.” Tolani was almost due. She’s expecting in two weeks’ time or thereabout.
Debby agreed to drive. Tayo sat in the front seat beside her, while I and Mrs Okafor sat at the back, giving us time to talk. We talked about my proposed research work.
“I’ll be writing on The Effect of Therapy on Depressed Individuals.” My project supervisor had earlier accepted and approved my proposal. He wished me well if I could find enough case studies for my research. He lamented the discouraging situation of how fewer people attend therapy these days. I put the question to her, expecting her expert opinion.
“Getting people into the counselling room is one thing, making them talk is another. Remember the saying, ‘You can force a horse to the river, but you can’t force it to drink.’ Some people are so curled up in their shells that it may take several sessions to get them talking.” She paused as if she remembered something, then continued. “One of the lessons I’ve learnt as a psychological therapist is that, sometimes, all you need to solve a problem is simply sharing it.” Tayo turned back giving an acknowledging smile. Then, without saying a word, he turned away.
We talked some more and she promised to assist in whatever way she could. As soon as we rounded off our discussion, Tayo’s awful silence became louder. It overshadowed Liszt’s piano works that had been playing softly from Debby’s phone.
“Are you sure everything is okay with you, Tayo?” Mrs Okafor asked, feeling concerned.
Tayo looked back, hesitated and replied, “No. Everything is not okay.”
“Everything will be alright. You just need to take a deep breath and relax. You are going to be fine.” Mrs Okafor tried to encourage him, thinking he was only nervous about confronting his dad with the news. He’d sinned. Though, now forgiven by God, he couldn’t tell how soon his father would forgive him or what it would cost.
Tayo nodded. I squeezed his shoulders gently from the back and encouraged him too. He place his hands on mine. “Thanks.”
We arrived the street of the church before 1.00 pm. Debby pulled over about 2 blocks from the church as planned. Mrs Okafor gave a hint of the next step. “I’ll go in alone. Keep your phones on, when, and if need be, I’ll call you to join me.” She didn’t say what she’ll say when she gets inside.
Tayo apprised her on the layout of the building. The church secretariat was located on the left wing of the building. The secretary’s office led to the pastor’s office on the right, and the conference room on the left. Pastor Adekunle’s office was the one with a transparent sound-proof glass wall. He had it installed as a precautionary measure for himself while maintaining his counselees’ privacy. We said a short prayer committing Tayo’s dad’s heart to God. We also asked for wisdom for Mrs Okafor before she stepped out of the car.
Debby was humming along to Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and every other piece in The Essential album she was playing while Tayo sat silent, still. I tried to distract myself with a Journal of Mental Health I found beside me. I turned the pages without giving much attention to its contents.
After about 20 minutes, Mrs Okafor rang Tayo and told him to join her. I breathed a prayer for my friend.
Now that only Debby and I were left in the car, I felt it was time to chat her up, but she was enjoying her music, and I felt it would be rude to intrude. I cautioned myself, not wanting to make a fool of myself, again.
“Would you mind checking up on them?” Debby asked, as she slot in a mix of other classical compositions. They’d been gone for almost an hour and neither of us had heard anything from them.
“I wish I could.” I didn’t know what mood Tayo’s dad was at the moment and I wasn’t ready to find out. “They’ll soon be back.” I assured.
“If you say so.” She returned to her humming while texting on her phone.
Now that she’d opened the floor, I felt more convenient having a conversation. “You seem to like classical music.”
She looked into the rear mirror, shook her head and replied, “More than you know.” She was surprised when I joined her on Don Giovanni, and hummed along to other tunes.
I was about asking another question when Mrs Okafor appeared. And then came, Tayo and his father. My lips froze. My heart began to pound. Pastor Adekunle’s face was difficult to interpret from a distance. As they came closer, I observed that things probably went well. I was dying to know how that happened. What did Mrs Okafor say? How did she say it?
To be continued…