A Friend in Need (21)
It was not too difficult for Mrs Okafor to notice my heebie-jeebies. As much as I tried to control myself, she, being an experienced counsellor, saw right through me. It was hard for me to concentrate on what she was explaining because Debby was sitting directly opposite me, her head buried in her device, and her ears plugged with earphones; she seemed to be listening to some music—classical, I guess. My eyes kept roving from the textbook in front of me, to Mrs Okafor’s face, to Debby, around the room, and back to the textbook like a remote-controlled robot. Suddenly, Mrs Okafor stopped talking, looked into my eyes, and then at Debby. She sensed something.
“Hey Debby, would you mind giving Tolani a helping hand inside.” I knew what she was doing.
“She’s asleep.” Debby said without looking up. “And Ben too.” She added. She obviously didn’t want to leave. That was when I understood that nothing was playing through the earphones, or if they were, it was at a level where she could hear us.
“I see.” Mrs Okafor answered with a yielding sigh.
I got the message, yet I couldn’t keep my attention from wandering. It wasn’t that I was looking directly at her—I wouldn’t dare—but I was looking around, feeling her presence. More than once, Mrs Okafor caught my roaming looks.
“You are a nurse. Right?” She asked, still looking at me.
“No!” I said.
“Yes.” Debby said, almost unconsciously as we answered at the same time. Then Mrs Okafor faced her.
“You’ll be on night duty today. If you were to give Femi some injections in this room, would you allow me stay?” Mrs, Okafor asked, looking quizzically at Debby.
We both knew where she was going with that. Debby didn’t argue any further. She just stood up and went to her room.
“Can we focus now?” She asked with a tint of scorn in her voice. I nodded in compliance.
My eyes stopped roaming, but my mind didn’t. Good enough, she wasn’t a mind-reader. I was lucky to understand a few things of all she said and, most importantly, the solution to the main question I had been battling with alone. Soon, the tutorials were over and I silently prayed that Mrs Okafor wouldn’t raise the Debby-matter before I left.
“You should eat something before you go.” She said with a smile.
“I’d rather not put you through any stress.” I needed to leave. If waiting behind to eat was going to give her an opportunity to bring up the matter, I was ready to forego it.
“No. It’s no stress at all. The food is already prepared. I wanted us to finish this before going to that. I’ll have Debby dish the meal.” She stood up. “Excuse me for a minute, please.”
She called Debby to join her in the kitchen. Though I remained in the living room and pretended to be revising the work we’d just done, I kept an ear to the ground for any worded-communication that filtered through the serving window.
“I’m sorry—” Debby started. “I know I shouldn’t be there but…” I couldn’t pick the rest of what she said as the sound of a rushing tap overshadowed her voice.
“There’s no need to be sorry.” Mrs Okafor answered.
I watched Debby still standing beside the sink with folded arms as she continued, “I just felt somehow when he came in.” She sighed. “The same way I felt the day I first saw him. I have this feeling of safety that I can’t explain, around him.”
“We can talk more about that when he leaves. I need you to make yourself useful around here.” That sounded to me more like a hush up. This lady is making a mistake. Your beauty is captivating, but sorry, I’m ‘taken’. I said to myself as a smug smile engulfed my face. I ate and left without wasting time.
Meanwhile, I could not shake off the thoughts that Tayo and Maria could be nursing intentions that I would not find pleasurable. And, as if on a mission to confirm my fears, Tayo and Maria started a new phase of friendship. The only problem was, I was the only one who was seeing something strange about it. Or, maybe I was just feeling it. To everyone else, it appeared that things were normal, but not to me. Every day, I got more uncomfortable with their growing friendship. I began to devise a plan.
To be continued…