By NBF News

By Treena Kwenta
Hi Readers! When  I asked Tayo where mama was, she pointed to the main house.

'But the guards told me that you and she had left!' I protested.  'If I found you here, or rather, if you came out to find me in the garden, it means mama is also here in the farm/retreat house with you.  Are you trying to prevent me from seeing her or, is she refusing to see people?'

'She loves seeing people, but this time around I want her to be by herself so that she can mourn alone, her life-long companion.  I brought her out to this retreat house with me, but she was so inconsolable that my brother,  Lekan, advised that I should return her to the main house, so that she can be close to her possessions and feel at home.  She seems happier there; at least she's no longer in tears all the time.  Lekan says that's therapeutic for her.'

'Do the guards know that she's in there?'
'Er, they may guess, but  I didn't discuss it with them.   We did make a hop to the farm in Offa, but mama couldn't settle there; she kept wanting to see her husband's grave, so, I brought her back late in the night of that very day.  I had to rule out her  going to weep over papa's grave on a daily basis.  I told her that being in the house they shared should make her feel close to him.  One of her nieces, Susan, is in there with her.  Everything they need is there.  After one week, when I have to leave here, we'll review the matter.  Mama may feel healed enough to leave for Lagos, Onitsha, or wherever she wants.'

'Oh dear!  Things have been quite hectic for you, Tayo dear.  I'm so sorry.  One of the reasons I came to look for you when you weren't taking your calls is to find out for my parents, how mama is.  They kept asking me to go look her up.'

'I know.  God bless your parents.  I knew they would be  so concerned about my mum, so, I rang them up and  got them to speak with her two days ago.  I also got some other family friends to speak with her.  I thought that would make her heal fast, when she knows that she has people who care around her.  Well, that's how things are o, Treena dear.  I can't believe papa went just like that.'

'True, but he had quite a good life.'
'That's what everyone is saying.  They also say he left in a decent manner, without any debilitating illness.  We thank God for that.'

I didn't know what to say to that.  I'm afraid I''m very poor at comforting people.  What really can one say that would be appropriate?

I asked her if I could see mama so that I could convey my parents' condolences to her.

'Sorry, no, Treena darling.  Haven't I just told you that I rang them up two days ago, and my mum spoke with them?  That should do for now,' she snapped, and then turned away from me.

I looked at my life-long friend.  It was as if I was seeing her for the first time.  A total stranger!  Surely, the Tayo I've been moving with all my life wouldn't snap at me like that.

Calm down, Treena dear, an inner voice counselled.  The poor girl has just lost a parent.  Not just any parent, but one she loved, and who loved her dearly.  You still have both your parents.  Consider how she must be feeling.   I looked at her again, patted her on the arm, and without another word, I headed for my car in front of the main house.   Was I angry?  I couldn't say.  I just had that inner feeling that I should leave Tayo alone.  For how long?  A week?  A month?  A year?  Forever?  More like the latter.   I felt unwanted in her life.

When we got back into Lagos, I told my driver to head straight for my brother's place in Dolphin Estate.  He wasn't there, so I went to their church on the edge of Lekki Phase 1.

'Sis, you look like thunder!' he exclaimed on seeing me.  'What happened to you?  Who upset my baby sister?  I'll send the tiger after him/her.'

That got me smiling and I reminded him that I stopped being his baby sister when Dicta came eleven years after me, at a time when dad and mum had thought that they were through with child-bearing and had settled for the three of us.

'Well, that's true, Treena sis, but when Dicta is not around, you're my baby sister.  Now, what got you upset?  Tell big brother.'

Briefly, I told him what transpired between Tayo and me in Abeokuta.

'Oh, sis, Tayo was on the phone to me about half an hour ago, telling me that she had offended you greatly.  She said she couldn't say what got into her and she rebuffed you when you showed concern for her mum.  Sis, if you had told me that you wanted to go see Tayo over there, I would have told you not to go.'

'Why, Joe?'
'To avoid that experience you had.  It's very plain that the poor girl is still hurting very much.  Hurting and angry that God took her dad away.  It's normal for one to want to lash out, especially when the person in front of you still had her dad, mum, or whatever the case may be.'

'I don't understand, Joe.  Was I wrong in going to commiserate with a friend of several decades?  I felt really hurt by her attitude.  I merely asked if I could go see her mum in the main house, and she told me there was no need.  What could I possibly have done to her mother?  My seeing her would n't worsen her situation; rather, it would make her feel loved by my family.'

'Yeah, that's how you meant it to be, but it could be interpreted in several other ways, like you wanted to see how unhappy the woman was looking and then go gloat over it.'

'But Joe, would I as a close friend do that to Tayo and her family?'

'You certainly won't, but when someone is in grief like that, the person can't usually think straight.  She would think that the person paying that condolence visit was probably  thinking that she deserved what happened to you.'

'Yes, that could happen, but I didn't think that a very down-to-earth friend like Tayo would react in such a way.  I feel like not speaking with her for the rest of my life.  I wasn't responsible for whatever happened.  I'm sorry about it, naturally, but ………………..'

'Yes, I know.  Calm down, sis, and forgive Tayo.  She was so remorseful on the phone, and she said that but for the fact that she was the only one of her siblings staying with her mother in the village, she would have come to apologize to you in person.  She didn't want to do it on telephone, because you might reject her calls.  Forgive her.  She's lost a dear parent.'

I nodded, my feelings, scattered all over the place.  If a casual friend had treated me like Tayo did, I wouldn't have taken any offence at all.  I would feel awkward, but I wouldn't take it to heart.

I thanked my brother for his advice which he spiced up with scriptural passages, and then I left.  I got home and there was Seb being served an early supper by nanny who looked very pleased with herself as she hovered around him.

'Ah, there you are, Treena dear.' he said, pausing with his hand mid-way  to his mouth.  'I hadn't had lunch and when nanny kindly offered to make me amala and ewedu, it was hard to refuse.  I waited for you though, but when it seemed you weren't in a hurry to return home, and the food was crying out to be attacked, I attacked it alone.'

'You did well, Seb,' I told him, going to brush my cheek against his.  'So, to what do we owe this visit, Seb dear?   You haven't come to scold me about anything, have you?'

'Nope.  Why don't you join me at table?  Ah, here comes good old nanny with your plate. She's a gem, isn't she?  Sit down and eat.'

I did just that.  I hadn't realized how hungry I was.  I wolfed down quite a sizeable portion of the amala that nanny dished for me.  Seb looked at me in amazement.

'Hm!' he said, shaking his head.  'Since I met you, Treena darling, I always wonder where all the food you consume goes.  You remain as thin as a bean pole.  It's puzzling.  Your metabolism must be burning up food at a very fast rate.  You're so lucky.  Many people would envy you.'

'It's God's gift, Seb.  God's gift.  I like food and no quantity harms me, so, it's endless hallelujah!'

When we left the table, nanny brought in some dessert - cream caramel, iced cream and cake and custard.  Yummy!

'What's that, nanny?' Seb asked in a lazy voice.  Nanny brought the tray near him.

'What!  Take that away!  Where did you train, nanny?   You serve this heavenly food of amala, and then you go to bring oyibo trash to digest it. They're enemies - they don't go together.  Bring some iced palm wine, if you've got some.  If not, I''ll continue with water.  That's best, actually.'

'Ah, now to the other business that brought me here,' he said, coming to share the large settee with me.  'Tayo rang to tell me what transpired between the two of you over there in Abeokuta this morning when you paid her and mama a visit.'

'Oh no!  Not that again!  I'm just coming from Joe's place.  She'd asked him to plead with me to forgive her too.  What's her game?  Is she trying to say that I'm unforgiving?  I can't understand her.  She could have sent me a text or an e-mail to apologize for rebuffing me when I asked to see her mother.  This publicity that she's giving the incident is totally unnecessary.'

'Now, you're angry with her, Treena dear.   She rang me up as soon as you left her without saying 'goodbye'.  She was truly sorry and was close to tears.   I told her to ring Joe. She told just the two of us. '

Silent, I waited for him to continue.  'Treena, don't throw away a good friendship of a life-time at a time like this,' he said softly, taking my hand in his.  'I understand how you must have felt, but if Tayo's remorseful to the point of being afraid to ring you up, then you should forgive her.

I wanted Joe to handle the spiritual aspect of forgiveness, that was why I told Tayo to ring him up, and as God would have it, you went straight to his place yourself, without knowing this.   The only thing for you to do is to forgive her.  Here, I'll dial her number so she could speak with you.'

The rest is history.  Tayo apologized profusely and I forgave her.  I went to bed a calmer and wiser  person.   Lesson?  Give space to a grieving person.  Be there for her, but don't try to run the show.