George was seated in the hall, waiting for the afternoon session. They had been informed earlier that they would be grouped again for interactive sessions where participants were expected to both learn from, and teach, other group members special skills or abilities they possessed. As he sat, he thanked God for his appointment as leader of Group 7 earlier in the day, for his time with Fatima, and for his time with Uche and Tunbosun, his assistant, as they cleared up dishes few minutes back.
His present concern however was the girl he had spoken with in the morning. He wondered where she had disappeared to. He didn’t even know her name. He sincerely wondered if that was going to be the end of it all. He hoped against that. He felt there was still uncompleted work with her. As God had used Fatima to bring him to Christ, he felt he was God’s agent of change to that girl.
It was then he remembered he hadn’t even mentioned it to Fatima. She would have been really proud of him. He made a mental note to tell her when next he saw her. She had said she would be discharged the next day. He really hoped it was true. Taking his mind back to his friend with no name, he concluded that it wasn’t in his power to make her change. If it was God’s will to use him, God would work out the details. ‘Not my will but yours be done Lord’, was his silent resolution.
Just as he was saying that prayer, he heard someone say something and he turned to face the voice.
“Pardon?” he was saying as he looked up.
“Please, can I walk past?” the girl said. George was literarily dumbfounded. ‘God, na wa for you o!’ he thought. He had just prayed and now God had brought the girl. He stood up and made way for her to walk in. She settled for the seat next to him.
George sat back down and faced her, not so sure of what to say but knowing he had work to do. “Good seeing you again”
“Same here” she said. “Thank you so much for this morning”
“It was my pleasure. Thank God.” He paused. “I’m George” he said, extending his hand.
“I’m Tara” she said, receiving the handshake.
Deciding to make the best of the few minutes left before the session would start; he decided to refresh her on his offer. “Tara” he called with his Hausa accent.
“Are you ready to talk about it now?”
“I thought I was so sure I would tell you. Infact, that was why I looked out for you the moment I got into the hall, but I have a fear that I don’t know how to deal with.”
“What is that?” George asked, wanting to allay any fears she could possibly have about confiding in him.
She took her time before she said anything. George could only wonder what it was that bothered her so bad. Finally, Tara looked at him and said. “The last time I confided in a guy, I grew so emotionally attached to him. He knew it and took advantage of me.” Tara took a pause and looked George in the eye. “Am I going to be safe with you?”
When she had started stating her fears, George had been confident of the answer he would give her but the moment she looked into his eyes, his words got stuck in his mouth and he could hardly breath. The vulnerability in her eyes was so clear, George was afraid. But more disturbing to George was the inner fear he had that if he got himself involved with this girl, he was going to get terribly attracted to her. He had to will himself to look away from her so he could think. If he kept looking at her, he knew he wouldn’t be able to think clearly.
‘God, is it really you leading me into this? I don’t want to lose my head.’ Looking back at her, he met her eyes again and his heart pumped so hard. Knowing she was waiting for his reply, he mustered courage to respond. “You will be safe with me.”
“Thank you” she said, now smiling at him with sincere gratitude. “Thank you so much” she emphasized placing a hand on his shoulder.
That touch set George on fire. ‘I am in hot soup’ George thought to himself as he wondered how he would handle this strange feeling for Tara through the remaining days of the conference if he had to be her confidant.
Tunbosun looked away. It was all she could do to ease the pain in the heart. She wondered why she felt this hurt about what she was seeing. She felt she had no right to feel that way but that was the way she was feeling and she couldn’t help it. It was just too much to bear.
She had been so tripped with what she saw in George earlier in the day that the desire to be close to him had heightened. She felt there was a lot she could learn from the guy. On getting to the hall, she had looked out for him. When she saw him, she had started walking in his direction when she noticed a tall girl taking her seat next to him. ‘That girl has just taken my seat’ had been her thought but she had let it pass, thinking the girl was just sitting with no strings attached.
She wished she had just minded her business but she hadn’t. Looking over and again in George’s direction made her see the drama that was still bothering her. She had felt uncomfortable when the two started a conversation but that was bearable. What now sent her mind spinning was the look on that girl’s face. From her seat, she could see the girl’s face so clearly, but couldn’t see the reaction on George’s.
That girl was obviously tripping for George and it was eating Tunbosun up. She had never felt this way about a guy before. She was the one usually pushing guys away. Now, she wanted to be close to a guy and some tall, attractive and ‘shapey’ girl was about to get in her way. The final straw was when she saw the girl place a hand on his shoulder. “How dare you?” she had breathed through gritted teeth.
It was then she remembered a scripture her born-again friends used to quote about the violent getting it by force or something close to that; she couldn’t really place it but that was what she needed. She would look for ways to make sure she and George got closer. ‘George, you’re the true friend I’ve been looking for and no one will snatch you for me’, she said to herself, feeling silly but determined all the same.
“It’s action time.” Stanley said to Utibe. “Remember that this is not just for you but for me too; she’s my key to Tunbosun. Please play your cards well.”
“No wahala” Utibe replied.
“That’s my man!” Okpara affimed. “Shoot!” he added.
Utibe left his friends and walked towards the extreme right of the hall where Shade was seated alone. As he got closer, he saw her look in his direction and then quickly look away. ‘You dey front abi? Na your time be dis, my turn dey come’ he thought as he approached.
As he got to where she was, he sat next to her and just stared at her for a few minutes. He got his desired effect. She was self-conscious. He had the girl in his hands. “Baby, I’ve missed you” he said. “I could hardly do anything right today. I could think of nothing and no one else.” He reached out and touched her hand. She faced him then. “I’m falling in love with you” he added, now looking into her eyes. And what he saw in those eyes made him know he was king in the bearer’s heart.
“I missed you too but thought you weren’t interested in seeing me anymore.” She said.
“How could I? I’ll die if I do that.” Utibe was impressed with himself; he was doing a great job. It was time to hit the jackpot. “I want to prove to you how much I’ve missed you”, he said, stroking her palm lightly. “Can we meet at the back of the dinning hall after diner?”
“Why there?” she asked, with a nervous smile. He knew she knew what he was talking about. She couldn’t have been deaf to what had already started between some couples. He would indulge her again on this.
“We need a quiet place. It’ll just be me and you; no one to interrupt us. Or don’t you trust me?” he added the question just to spice up the process.
“I do. After dinner it would be then.” She said.
Utibe moved a little closer and whispered in her ears. “I love you”. She didn’t answer him but she really didn’t need to. Her body language told him she believed him and was ready to give him her body. He winked at her as he stood to return to his seat and she smiled in return.
‘I hope you’ll still be able to smile after I have my fill of you and dumped you’ he thought as he walked back to his seat, ready to update the boys on his progress.
Uche was irritated. He had just seen how that boy talked with the Shade girl that was in his morning group. He was sitting two rows back and was able to read the guy’s lips. He picked some words and could tell the guy meant no good for the girl at all. He shook his head and looked away. That was their business. He hoped the poor girl wouldn’t learn the hard way.
His major concern was the decision he was yet to make about giving his life to Christ. He had been discouraged earlier in the day but his time with Fatima in the hospital and with the George at different times had raised hope in his heart again and he was ready to give God a try.
He however needed confirmation, and felt he needed to voice it out to God. Fatima had said she would be discharged the next day. As far as he concerned, that was impossible. He looked up and shut his eyes, praying silently. ‘God, I believe you can hear my thoughts. If you heal Fatima completely and she walks into this conference ground tomorrow, I’ll serve you all my life. But if she doesn’t, you and I are finally toast.’
He wondered if God would be angry at him; seemed he was challenging God but he didn’t care. If God wanted Him, He would have to prove it. With that, Uche closed the chapter, waiting for tomorrow to come.
Fatima was tired. She had spent about two hours talking and praying with Mrs Salome. The woman, who had blamed herself for the death of her only child, was now relieved and ready to face life once again with the strength only God could give. Fatima had taken her drugs after encouraging the woman and then slept off almost immediately.
Fatima had not slept long before she bolted up, out of sleep. She was panting. She could hardly breathe. She looked at the wall clock. It was almost 5pm. She had just had the worst dream of her life. She was so frantic; she didn’t know what to do. She looked to the side wall and saw the emergency button. She pressed it over and again; that was her only hope.
‘Somebody come quickly!’ her heart pleaded, hoping she hadn’t woken up one minute late. She hardly dreamt but when she did, they came to pass; it was one of her gifts. She had to stop this one from coming to pass. “God, please have mercy. Don’t let Doctor Festus do it”, she prayed silently as she hit the emergency button again.
…TO BE CONTINUED
Written by Timilehin Adigun