A Friend in Need (24)
As I made my way back home, I struggled in vain to keep myself from thinking about what could be on between Tayo and Maria, and, most importantly, what the Elder had come to discuss with Maria. I didn’t know if Tayo was also there during their discussion but I felt a strong impression that he was. The last time Elder Joshua came unexpectedly and in quick successions was when he heard about Tayo and Tolani. He had had series of after-service meetings with him in a bid to restore him in love and help him overcome his depression.
Tayo had shown significant improvement when a more matured spiritual leader stepped in to assist him, though he still makes reference to how helpful I was in getting him through those difficult times. I reminisced our early friendship days. I began to worry that something might go wrong to sour our friendship. If my guess that Tayo was also eyeing Maria turned true, then our friendship would be at stake. I could share anything or anyone with a friend, but not the woman that I claim to love.
Deliberately shifting my attention from the perturbing thoughts that infested my mind, I chose to fantasize about other interesting subjects—my ideal wife, dream-wedding, and future home. As I continued trekking home, I daydreamed about going for annual picnics with my wife—Debby’s picture flashed to my mind but I shook it off quickly and replaced it with Maria’s. I imagined my children running around the house, playing hide and seek; Samuel—the name I intend to give my first son—being a facial resemblance of me, and his sister, Susan, that of my wife…
My reverie was interrupted by the greeting of a course mate. “Happy Sunday, Femi.” He said as he crossed to the other side of the road to meet me.
“Same to you, Mike.” We exchanged pleasantries and he went his way.
I was about reverting back to my wonderland when the blaring hooter of a trailer shook me back to reality. With just a few more steps, I helped myself to the compound of the hostel, and headed straight to Tayo’s door with no idea whatsoever on how to present my case. Was I going to openly confront him and accuse him of stealing my ‘bride-to-be’? Should I ask him if there’s anything beyond ‘brotherly love’ going on between him and Maria? Or, maybe I could just tell him how I was feeling towards Maria and see what his reaction would be.
“Knock! Knock!! Knock!!!” I said in my characteristic manner as I tapped his door trice.
There was no need asking who was at the door as he already knew. He opened the door and I saw he was on the phone with someone.
“Should I come back?” I whispered. He beckoned that I should wait. I slipped into a chair and flipped half-mindedly through the pages of a book on the table, trying to eavesdrop on his conversation without being noticed. From the little I gathered, it appeared he was speaking with Elder Joshua. He did more listening than talking. After the call ended, he looked happy and satisfied, but I didn’t want to pry.
“How was today’s service?” I asked with a friendly tone.
“Today’s service was wonderful.” He tucked his phone in his pocket.
Still turning the pages of the book, I said, “I guess you had a visitor today—again.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Which visitor?” Tayo’s answer puzzled me. He couldn’t be lying. Could that mean he didn’t know about Elder Joshua’s visit?
“Never mind. It’s not important.” I changed the subject of discussion. “How’s your preparation for the exams?”
“No. Femi, you have to tell me. Which visitor were you referring to?” Tayo pressured me for more information.
“I thought it was you Elder Joshua came to see.”
“Elder Joshua was around? What did he say?”
“He came to see Sister Maria. I thought you knew about it.”
Tayo sat on the bed, his head dropped into his palms. He was silent long enough for me to just sit there marvelling at the ongoing drama. I couldn’t tell if he was happy or sad, but since he wasn’t saying anything, I stood up and left. Obviously, something else was going on between him and Maria and the only thing that seemed to make sense was that they were in a relationship. If I had waited any longer, there’s no guarantee that I’d be able to control my emotions. I had an ace in the hole—telling Maria about Tolani.
Resisting the pressure to call Maria immediately, I decided to wait till the following Sunday before bringing up the issue again. The days seemed endless and the week almost refused to end. I tried as much as possible to avoid any discussion that could raise the topic with Tayo. When I finally met Maria on Sunday, I was shocked that she was the one who asked to see me after the service.
Thankfully, I’d delegated the preaching of the sermon to one of the leaders, otherwise, it would have affected my ministration that Sunday. Moreover, I felt unqualified to preach that day. I had repeatedly silenced the constant bidding of the Holy Spirit on how I was handling the matter. The indescribable nervousness that gripped me made me brake into sweats uncontrollably. When the service ended, I escaped into the vestry for a drink of water to cool my overheating body system.
“Sister Maria, it’s always a pleasure to see you.” I had to pretend all was well when she came in.
“It’s a pleasure to see you too. And it appears you are on break today.” She took her seat without asking.
“Necessary break.” I answered, relaxing into the chair. “Sometimes you get blessed and refreshed when you listen to others preach. You said you wanted to see me.”
“Yes. I considered what you told me last week and I want to bother you with some personal matters. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Bother me? No. That wouldn’t be bothering in any way. If it’s personal to you, then it concerns me.” Did I really mean that, or was I just looking for something?
“Hmm. I knew I could trust you.” She said with a smile, and sat forward. “It’s about Bro Tayo.”
My heart skipped a beat or two at the mention of his name. Different thoughts started flying through my mind: Was she about to report Tayo to me? Did he propose to her? Was he giving her any problem? Is he trying to lure her into…
“Bro Tayo? Yes, what about him?”
“Please, don’t be offended as I shouldn’t be asking you this. But, are you two on good terms?” She must have heard or noticed something.
“I believe so. Why would you ask such? What did you notice? What did he say to you?”
“We’re supposed to go somewhere together this weekend and I told him I wanted you to go with us, but he’s reluctant. He said I should find someone else or tell you about it myself. I don’t understand, because I thought you were best friends.”
Go somewhere? Together? I was sure it wasn’t an evangelistic outreach they were going. My heart was pounding hard in my chest and my limbs shook under the desk where they were hidden away. I had to rest my elbows on the desk to stabilize my trembling arms.
“What did you mean when you said, you were to go somewhere, together?”
“He didn’t tell you that too?” She said with raised eyebrows. Her look of surprise met mine. “Tayo and I are engaged.”
To be continued…