The Inklings: Chapter 136

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

As John folded clean washing he realised that he was looking forward to taking Fanta and her sisters to Emily’s place the next day. He knew that Emily would like Fanta and imagined she would also like Nancy and Ruby. John wondered whether Nancy and Ruby would enjoy playing with Emily’s kids and realised that he couldn’t remember how old Emily’s kids were or even what their names were. John realised he hadn’t been a very good uncle to Emily’s kids and made a mental note to try harder. Then John wondered whether he should also be making more of an effort to look after Ruby and Nancy and decided that he would -starting straight away. He went to the phone and called Fanta at work.

“Would you like me to pick up your sisters from school so you can stay longer at work and walk home with Syafika?” said John.

“Yes, I would like that” answered Fanta. “Thanks!”

When Ruby and Nancy saw John waiting for them at the school gate they started laughing and whispering to each other.

“Can we get an icecream on the way home?” asked Ruby.

“Ok” said John, remembering that he needed to go to the shops on the way home anyway.

As John and Fanta’s sisters left the shops John noticed a lady getting off a bus carrying a baby and a folded up stroller. She tried to unfold the stroller with one hand while holding the baby in the other but couldn’t manage it so John offered to help.

When her baby was safely in the stroller the lady thanked John and said “Your girls are lovely”

John felt embarrassed and wondered whether he should explain that they weren’t his kids.

“I bet they make you really happy. My baby boy makes me happier than I’ve ever been. And you know what I realised when he was born?” said the lady.

“What?” asked John.

“When I felt the love I have for my boy I realised how much my Mum loves me” said the lady.

John wanted to reply but he couldn’t think of anything to say so he just smiled, but on the walk home all he could think of was about how much his Mum must have loved him when he was a baby and that maybe she still did.

When they got home John suggested that Ruby and Nancy watch TV while he started making dinner. He hardly noticed when Ruby came into the kitchen to get a couple of pairs of scissors and when John came out of the kitchen an hour later he discovered that there were tiny pieces of paper all over the rest of the house.

“We made it snow” explained Nancy.

“Does Fanta let you do things like this?” asked John.

“No way” said Ruby.

John had just finished vacuuming up all the paper when he saw Fanta and Syafika approaching the house. John smiled as he watched Fanta walk up the steps.

John, Fanta and Syafika had just sat down with cold drinks when D’arby arrived home.

“Can you tell us your news yet?” asked John as he poured D’arby a glass of water.

So D’arby sat down and told everyone about RenewBank and how Anthony had been trying to blackmail them.

As they listened John noticed that Fanta and Syafika looked at each other and raised their eyebrows.

“But what happens now?” asked John. “Now that RenewBank isn’t secret anymore”

“All day we had people from other groups coming to the office to discuss how they could help us” said D’arby. “It was amazing actually. There’s this feeling that what we want to do is the missing part of a whole new system – people were even starting to suggest that we might be almost at that magical tipping point that everyone is always hoping for.”

“But what about all the people who don’t like your plans” asked John.

“Yeah, we don’t know what they will do but we expect they won’t roll over. But with all the support we have we feel we might have a chance of surviving whatever is thrown at us” said D’arby. “And if they do stuff that gets our plan into the public eye we’ll probably get even more supporters, who will eventually become customers – we could look at it as free advertising”

After D’arby finished speaking there was silence as everyone digested the news. Eventually John suggested it was dinner time and he got up and went to bring the food to the table.

When everyone had been served John looked around the table to see how everyone liked their first bite. Nancy and Ruby were eating fast, which meant they liked the food. Fanta and D’arby both complimented John as they tasted their food but Syafika wasn’t eating.

“What’s wrong” John asked Syafika. “Don’t you like the food?”

“It’s not that” said Syafika. “It’s Anthony”

“What about Anthony” asked D’arby.

“What does this mean for him? And what does this mean for my investigation into Anthony?” asked Syafika.”Because I have new evidence that he is up to something else as well, something even closer to home”

“What?” asked D’arby.

“I think he is spying on someone in my family” said Syafika and she told everyone about Anthony knowing she’d run home barefoot and how he’d been interested in hearing about Rose giving money to the lady who lived in the park.

“It could be nothing” said John. “What if it was a coincidence that he saw you running barefoot? Or if he was watching you walk home because he is stalking you?”

“I think there might be something going on – or at least enough chance of it to warrant further investigation” said Fanta. “I want to help. Who else wants to help?”

“I will” said D’arby.

“Where D’arby goes, I follow” said John.


The Inklings: Chapter 135

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby felt liberated as he set out for work because it was the first time he could walk straight to the real office. He left later than usual too, but that was because he was still feeling weak from all the vomiting yesterday. Syafika may have only vomited four times before she got better, but D’arby had vomited seven times.

When D’arby walked into the office he saw that Rudnika was in the meeting room and it was full of other people.

Valentine walked over to D’arby looking excited.

“It’s started” said Valentine. “Those people are hear to learn about our plans”

“But how did they get here so fast – I thought we weren’t saying anything until today” said D’arby. He felt he’d missed out on a lot by being out of the office yesterday.

“Yeah, we didn’t say what we were up to until now – they are hearing the first of it right now. But yesterday we contacted all the groups that we knew would be sympathetic and asked them to send people here this morning to hear about our plans” said Valentine.

“Who did you know would be sympathetic?” asked D’arby

“All the groups that care about people or nature – there’s lots of those” said Valentine.

“What else is there to care about?” asked D’arby

“Money” said Valentine. “We didn’t invite anyone who cares about money – which is kind of funny because money is half of our plan!”

D’arby smiled and peeped into the meeting room to survey the expressions on the faces of all the people in there.


The Inklings: Chapter 134

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Binta woke up early on Friday morning feeling anxious. At first she thought it was because she was still excited from the meeting the night before but then she remembered that she was expecting an email reply from Bert.

Binta got out of bed and quietly walked over to Ousman’s bed. As Binta watched Ousman sleeping she was reminded of how he’d been as a baby. She smiled and then walked softly to her desk to check for new emails.

Binta saw an email from Bert that had been sent yesterday afternoon and wished she’d checked her emails last night. Binta held her breath and opened the email.

“That’s fantastic! When can you start? Can you come in tomorrow? Tell me when you will arrive and I will be ready” wrote Bert and then he gave her the address of his business.

Binta gasped and looked at the time. She was terrified of seeing Bert again but also excited to have a new job. After calculating how long it would take to get to work Binta replied to Bert that she’d arrive at 9:30am. Binta tip-toed over to the wardrobe and spent a long time quietly agonising over what to wear before putting on her favourite outfit.

Binta was brushing her hair when Ousman woke up.

“You look nice. Where are you going today?” asked Ousman.

“I have a new job!” said Binta.

“Did you forget to tell me?” asked Ousman.

“No, I just found out this morning” said Binta.

“What’s the job?” asked Ousman.

“I don’t know much about it yet but I think I’m going to be helping make a movie” said Binta.

“Cool!” said Ousman. “Are you going to be in the movie?”

Binta laughed and said “No, not me. I’m just helping organize everything”

“You will be good at that” said Ousman.

When Binta and Ousman went downstairs to have breakfast they discovered Mamadou sitting at the kitchen table. He was drinking tea and working on a drawing of some kind of large courtyard with a pond in the middle.

Mamadou smiled when he saw Binta, which made Binta feel happy.

“Do you have time to talk this morning?” asked Mamadou.

“I am going to work – I got a new job” said Binta. “What about tomorrow?”

“Ok, tomorrow” said Mamadou, but Binta thought he looked very disappointed.

After breakfast Binta walked Ousman to the bus stop then she went to the station to get a train. It started raining just before Binta got to the station but she was too excited about her new job to care about getting wet. As she watched other people run towards cover Binta just smiled and took her time.

At 9:29am Binta arrived at Bert’s office. It was in an old, but well maintained warehouse in a trendy suburb. A young man answered the door and took Binta to Bert. As they walked they passed people sitting at computers with headphones on who were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t notice them passing by.

Bert was in the kitchen making a pot of tea. Binta smiled when she saw the tea and was relieved that she still recognized Bert.


The Inklings: Chapter 133

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

On Friday morning Fanta was relieved that neither she nor her sisters had become sick during the night.

Fanta noticed that D’arby was looking well and seemed to be feeling relaxed that morning. Instead of rushing off to work D’arby was sitting and drinking tea with John.

D’arby also looked relieved when he saw that Fanta and her sisters were up.

“Can you invite Syafika over for dinner tonight?” D’arby asked Fanta. “I have something to tell everyone”

“Ok” said Fanta.

“What is it?” asked John.

“I don’t want to spoil the surprise – wait until tonight” said D’arby.

“It’s not bad news is it?” asked John.

“No, exciting news” said D’arby.

Fanta thought she knew what D’arby was going to be talking about, but didn’t say anything.

When Fanta arrived at work she was disappointed to find that Syafika wasn’t there.

Instead of paying attention during the team meeting Fanta daydreamed about having adventures. A particular favourite was imagining what it would be like to walk into the kitchen and discover Nelson trying to stab Christine with a knife. Fanta decided that in that situation she would disarm Nelson by throwing hot water all over him.

When Fanta walked back to her desk after the meeting Celine walked next to her.

“What is she doing here?” asked Celine, sounding disgusted.”She will infect us all”

Fanta looked up and saw Syafika walking into the office looking apologetic.

Syafika smiled at Fanta and then went to apologise to Christine for having missed the team meeting.

Then Syafika walked over to Fanta and whispered “Let’s catch-up over lunch” before settling down at her computer.

At lunchtime it was raining and so Fanta and Syafika went to a café instead of the Botanic Gardens.

As Fanta listened while Syafika told her all the details of her date with Anthony she realised she felt impatient and a bit cranky. Fanta wondered if she was starting to feel the way her mother had felt before she ran away.

“What’s your next date? With the waiter you met when you were with Celine?” said Fanta.

“Who?” said Syafika, looking confused.

“Celine said a waiter gave you his phone number and made you promise to call” said Fanta. “Or was she making that up?”

“No, now I remember” said Syafika and she opened her wallet and looked in all the sections without finding what she was looking for.

“Don’t tell me you lost his number” said Fanta.

“I must have. I remember putting it in here, but now it’s gone” said Syafika.

Fanta realised she felt disappointed – disappointed for the waiter, disappointed that Syafika wouldn’t have a new romance to distract her from Anthony, and disappointed because Celine was the one who’d been with Syafika when the waiter had given Syafika his number.

“What’s wrong” asked Syafika. “You don’t look happy today”

Fanta sighed as she gathered her thoughts.

“I wish my life was more interesting” said Fanta.

“Why would you want a life as full of disappointing dramas as mine? You’ve got love and stability – the things most people dream about” said Syafika.

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m just feeling left out while you and D’arby have all these adventures” said Syafika.

“Do you want to help me work out what Anthony is up to?” said Syafika.

“Yes!” said Fanta.

“But you’ve always disliked Anthony” said Syafika.

“I don’t want you to marry him, I want you to discover that he does evil things because then you won’t like him anymore” said Fanta.

Syafika laughed and Fanta couldn’t help joining in.

“Shall I tell you what happened when I got home yesterday?” said Syafika.

“Yes” said Fanta and she listened patiently as Syafika told her about the conversations she’d had with Amanda and Rose yesterday. Fanta wanted to think that Syafika was just being paranoid, but she had to agree with Syafika – the evidence didn’t add up to there being nothing going on.

“So what do you think? Do you know why Anthony has been watching me or my house?” asked Syafika.

“I think that Anthony does love you but that he is also spying on you for some other reason, and I think that he is scared that you are playing some kind of game with him. Maybe he thinks you know more than you do” said Fanta.

“I like that!” said Syafika. “I just wish it was true – that I did know what was going on. Do you really think he has mistaken my confusion for tactics?”

“It makes sense” said Fanta. “Anthony behaves like he is attracted to you one minute, and then is is angry or scared of you the next. What if he is just as confused as you and neither of you are trying to be manipulative?”

Fanta noticed a tear running down Syafika’s cheek.

“That’s so sad!” said Syafika. “Next time I see Anthony I’m going to give him a hug – poor thing! But what does that mean about Mum and Amanda?”

“I don’t know – what could they possibly be up to that Anthony would be interested in?” asked Fanta.

“Will you help me find out?” asked Syafika.

“Yes” said Fanta. “But we have to be careful. They are your family”


The Inklings: Chapter 132

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Syafika couldn’t help smiling as she watched Binta drag Rose and Mamadou off to India’s place. She wondered how long they’d be gone and what she should do while they were away. Syafika walked around the house with her cup of tea, humming to herself. When she wandered into the loungeroom and when she saw the piano she sat down and opened the lid.

There was a pile of piano music books on top of the piano that would have had a thick layer of dust on them if Rose hadn’t recently had to clean up for Zikpi and her film crew.

Syafika took down one of her favourite books and it fell open at the piece she used to play the most.

Syafika put the open book on the stand, adjusted her position on the piano stool and started playing.

Syafika was glad that it was a slow piece of music because her fingers felt really clumsy. She realised she should have done some exercises to warm her hands up first, but kept playing anyway. About halfway through the piece Syafika felt shivers down her spine and a wave of emotion swept over her. She started crying but kept playing. She felt as if her body had been taken over because her hands remembered the music better than she did. Syafika played one piece after another until she felt exhausted. When she stopped she looked at her watch and realised that over an hour had passed.

As Syafika stood up she had a feeling that someone else was in the room and when she turned around she was surprised to discover Amanda sitting on the sofa with Aminata on her hand.

“I wish you did that more often” said Amanda. “I miss hearing you play”

Syafika didn’t know what to say. She felt embarrassed that Amanda had been listening to her and wondered whether she’d been there when she was crying. Syafika was also amazed that Amanda had come out of her room and that she was behaving so coherently.

“Do you come out of your room often during the day?” asked Syafika.

“No, just sometimes” said Amanda. “There’s still a lot for me to do in my room. I think I’ll be able to start coming out more regularly soon though”

Syafika tried not to roll her eyes when Amanda talked about having a lot to do in her room. Syafika resented how Amanda could get away with being so lazy.

“I’m going to make some lunch. Would you like some?” asked Amanda.

“Yes please” said Syafika, realizing that she was feeling really hungry.

“Why don’t you pick tomatoes and some salad vegies from the backyard while I prepare the rest?” said Amanda.

As Syafika walked out to the garden she realised she needed adjust her vision of reality so that it included the possibility that Amanda might grow up into a normal, functioning person.

When Syafika came back inside carrying tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce leaves she could smell melted cheese and saw that Amanda was grilling cheese on toast.

“Thanks. Now sit down while I make salad” said Amanda.

As Syafika sat silently at the table and watched Amanda chop the salad vegetables there were so many questions she wanted to ask but she was worried that if she asked them Amanda might run up to hide in her room again, so instead Syafika decided to talk about what she’d been up to.

“You’ll never guess what happened to me last night!” said Syafika.

“I don’t have to guess all of it because I checked the answering machine messages – you got sick and stayed at a friend’s house” said Amanda. “Which friend? Fanta?”

“No, not really a friend. His name is Anthony. It’s a long story, but my friend D’arby and I are spying on Anthony to try and work out what he is up to. We think Anthony is some kind of spy” said Syafika.

“Who does Anthony spy on?” asked Amanda as she served lunch.

“That’s a good question” said Syafika. “I know he is trying to find out what goes on where I work, but I think he might also have been trying to spy on D’arby and maybe even me or someone in our family – although I don’t know why he’d do that”

Syafika took a large bite of the cheesy toast and was amazed at how delicious it tasted. Then she tried the salad and discovered that it was also very good.

“Wow. This is so yummy! Thanks!” said Syafika.

Amanda didn’t answer straight away because she was too busy chewing but she looked happy.

“I’m glad you like your lunch” said Amanda. “But what makes you think that Anthony is spying on someone in our family? What do we ever do that’s interesting enough for someone to want to spy on us?”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought” said Syafika. “It’s just that the other evening I ran the last bit of the way home barefoot – that’s the only time I’ve ever done it – and last night Anthony made a comment about me running barefoot. And there is one other thing that happened, but maybe it is nothing too”

“What?” asked Amanda.

“Last week when I was out running I saw Mum give a bundle of $50 notes to a lady who lives in a tent in the park near the station” said Syafika. “And when I told Anthony about it he seemed interested”

“Why did you tell Anthony that?” asked Amanda.

Syafika thought Amanda looked a bit cranky.

“I was trying to find out why Anthony would have been watching our house – I wanted to see how he’d react” said Syafika.

“How did he react?” asked Amanda.

“He looked interested” said Syafika.

“That’s all? He didn’t say anything or ask any questions?” asked Amanda.

“No, he didn’t have time to ask questions though” said Syafika.

“Have you considered that Anthony is just interested in you, romantically? He could have been watching you, not our house. And he might have looked interested when you told him the story about Mum because he likes listening to you” said Amanda.

Syafika felt embarrassed and didn’t know how to answer.

“Do you like Anthony?” asked Amanda.

“No, I mean, I don’t know. I used to, but I don’t know now. I think I still would like him if I didn’t feel like he is manipulating me to find out information” said Syafika.

“What do you think about Mum? Do you think she is up to something?” asked Amanda.

“The only reason I suspect Mum of anything is because I saw her give that lady all that money. Maybe all I should suspect Mum of is of being very generous” said Syafika.

“Yeah, that’s what I think” said Amanda.

Syafika didn’t say anything for a few minutes because she was trying to process all the things Amanda had said. Although each sentence had made sense on its own Syafika wasn’t able to combine them all into a clear picture of what Anthony was really up to. Eventually she decided to change the topic.

“What sorts of things keep you busy?” asked Syafika. She tried very hard to not sound condescending as she said it.

“I’ve been learning lots of useful things – I’m trying to make up for having left school” said Amanda.

“Why don’t you just go back to school?” asked Syafika.

“I don’t fit in at school” said Amanda.

Amanda’s answers had made Syafika feel uncomfortable but she wasn’t sure why. At first she thought it was because she didn’t have much sympathy for Amanda – Syafika hadn’t enjoyed highschool either but she’d still gone. Syafika looked at Amanda for a few seconds before she realised what was making her feel uneasy – it was because she didn’t believe what Amanda was saying.

Syafika heard the front door opening and thought it must have been Rose, Mamadou and Binta coming home. Amanda must have heard the door opening too because she grabbed the last piece of her toast and ran upstairs to hide in her room.

Syafika was finishing her lunch when Rose walked in to the kitchen.

“Where are the others?” asked Syafika.

“Helping India set up for the party tonight” said Rose. “I told India that you were sick and she said you could join the meeting remotely – she’ll set up her laptop in the room”

“I feel fine now though. Why can’t I just come in person” asked Syafika.

“India didn’t like the thought of that. She thinks you should stay in quarantine tonight in case you give your germs to Penny, who is still weak” said Rose. “You should be happy – if she wasn’t scared of catching your germs India would be making you come over and help set up”

“How did you get out of helping to set up?” asked Syafika.

“I just came to check on you and Amanda. Have you had lunch?” said Rose.

“Yes, Amanda made me lunch” said Syafika.

“Great, I’ll head back to India’s place then” said Rose.

“Wait. I need to ask you something” said Syafika.

“What?” said Rose.

“Last Tuesday, after Zikpi finished filming, I went for a run and I saw you giving a lady a bundle of $50 notes. Why did you do that?” asked Syafika.

Rose looked embarrassed and looked at her feet for a couple of seconds before she said “I stopped going to the beauty salon years ago and instead I walk around looking for someone who needs the money and then I give it to them”

“Why are you so embarrassed to be doing that? It’s a good thing” said Syafika.

“I am embarrassed because I kept it a secret. Your dad would probably be cross with me for not discussing it with him first” said Rose. “But sometimes I just want to be able to make decisions on my own, without having to consult anyone”

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell him” said Syafika. “I was more worried that you were up to something suspicious than that you were giving money away”

Rose laughed and asked “What suspicious things did you think I might be up to?”

“I really don’t know, but Anthony seemed interested when I told him what I saw, and he is some kind of spy” said Syafika.

“What are you going on about!” said Rose and she rolled her eyes. “I better check on Amanda quickly and then I’ll head back to India’s place. I’ll be back later to help you set up the computer for the meeting. And I can bring you some dinner over too”

Syafika listened to the stairs creaking as Rose went up to check on Amanda realised she was feeling very jealous. She wondered what sort of things Rose and Amanda talked about when they were home together every day and felt leftout. She looked at her empty plate and decided she’d wash the dishes then search the house for chocolate to eat while she read a book.

As Syafika rinsed the dishes she heard the front door opening and closing and realised that Rose must have left the house. Syafika took off the dishwashing gloves and opened one cupboard after another until she discovered a packet of chocolate biscuits. Syafika felt like a naughty child as she ran to her room with the biscuits and closed the door. She sat on her bed reading and eating biscuits until Ousman came home from school.

“Syafika? Are you home?” yelled Ousman as he came in the front door.

Syafika was touched that she was the first person Ousman thought of when he got home and got up to meet him.

“Did you see the frog and eggs?” asked Ousman.

“Yeah, I did. Very exciting!” said Syafika.

“Yes, I want to go and see it again” said Ousman and he ran off towards the back door. Syafika was about to follow him when the phone rang.

“Hello?” said Syafika.

“It’s me, Fanta. How are you feeling? Should I come over? Or do you need to rest?”

Syafika desperately wanted to talk to Fanta and was about to tell her to come over when she remembered that she was probably still contagious.

“I wish you would, but I think I’m still contagious. What about tomorrow instead?” asked Syafika.

Syafika and Ousman mucked around in the backyard with Aminata for the rest of the afternoon. They watched the frog, picked strawberries and splashed in the pond.

Syafika was feeling pretty tired by the time Binta came back. Binta had brought a large plate of food for Syafika, which would have made Syafika very happy if she wasn’t already full of chocolate biscuits and strawberries.

“Your mum is busy setting up the chocolate fountain so I’ll help you set up my computer so you can watch the meeting from here” said Binta and she took Syafika upstairs to her room, and Ousman followed.

Syafika and Ousman watched as Binta set up her computer. Then Syafika saw India on the screen and heard her say “Hello Syafika! Can you hear me?”

“Yep” said Syafika. “Can you hear me?” said Syafika.

“All fine” said India. “Now you wait there – everyone is eating dinner but when they finish we’ll all come in here for the meeting.

So Syafika sat at Binta’s desk and started eating her large dinner while watching India’s empty dining room. The highlight was when she saw Binta and Ousman walk through India’s dining room and Ousman pulled a face at the computer.

Syafika felt herself falling asleep so she rushed downstairs, put the rest of her dinner in a container in the fridge and made herself a cup of green tea. When she got back India’s dining room was still empty so Syafika did 50 star jumps to wake herself up. She’d just regained her breath when people started coming in and sitting around the dining table, then making a second row around the outside of the room. Syafika counted 30 people and noticed that there was somone there from most of the houses on the street.

India welcomed everyone and pointed out that Syafika was watching from quarantine via the computer. Then India wheeled in a whiteboard and the serious work began.

“Right everyone, you’re going to call out problems our street faces and I’ll write them down. When we think we’ve got them all we will look at how we can work together to solve the problems. Remember when we brainstorm all ideas get written down and there’s no criticizing”

“Our house burnt down and we have no insurance so we can’t afford to build again” said Victoria.

“There’s too much traffic” said Donald, who lived next door to India.

“Developers want to build a big block of flats” said Ousman.

“There’s a cat that poos in my garden” said Sunita.

When India wrote the cat poo problem on the white board Syafika started laughing and had to pretend it was a cough. For the rest of the problem brainstorm she had to keep reminding herself that everyone in the room could see and hear her.

When the whiteboard was full there was a 10 minute break for tea and coffee so Syafika went downstairs to make herself a cup of tea. She was determined to contribute to the next session, which was another brainstorm, but this time they were looking for solutions.

Syafika was not surprised when Victoria suggested that a solution to their problem was to sell their land to the developers and buy one of the new flats to live in. Victoria even tried to convince Penny and Gina that they should do the same. Syafika knew that the block of flats couldn’t go ahead without having at least one adjoining block and so she was cross with Victoria for pretending to be trying to help Penny and Gina when she was really just trying to help herself. The block that Victoria and Graham’s land backed onto was owned by a young family who hadn’t come to the meeting but had expressed how much they didn’t want to live next to a block of flats. Syafika wondered whether Victoria was going to try to pressure them to sell up and live in a flat too.

India dutifully wrote Victoria’s idea on the whiteboard and there was an angry silence in the room for a few seconds. Syafika was expecting someone to chime in about how they shouldn’t be NIMBYS and that they had to accept that blocks of flats were inevitable, but instead Mamadou jumped up and asked for the whiteboard marker.

Instead of trying to explain his idea, Mamadou drew it on the whiteboard. He drew a two storey building on Victoria and Graham’s block. The top storey was a pretty house with a roof garden and the bottom storey was a carpark. Nobody seemed to know what was going on until Mamadou drew the street with one end blocked off with bollards. Then he converted one lane to trees, garden, play equipment and even included a sand box for cat poo.

“We all park here, not on the street” said Mamadou, and he pointed at the ground floor carpark. “Victoria and Graham sell carspaces to pay for their topfloor house and we close the street except for emergency vehicles”

Syafika was glad that nobody was allowed to criticize ideas because she could see lots of problems with Mamadou’s plan – for a start she knew they’d never be given permission to close their street to traffic, but also because it depended on Victoria and Graham changing their minds. Syafika looked to see how Graham and Victoria reacted to Mamadou’s idea and was surprised to see that they were looking thoughtful and nodding.

When the solution brainstorm was over the whiteboard was full and everyone was too tired to vote on what to do with all the ideas so they decided to meet again in a few days.

As Syafika turned Binta’s computer off she realised that she was crying and realised that she’d been surprised by how the people in her street had come together – Syafika realised that her default position was to be annoyed at how stupid most people seemed to be.


The Inklings: Chapter 131

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

The possibility of John being infected with D’arby’s vomit sickness had been enough for Tim to insist on looking after John’s restaurant for the rest of the week. John decided to start his unexpected break from work by going for a walk. As John walked along he picked up paperbark blossoms from the footpath and wondered which kind of parrot had dropped them. He’d seen rainbow lorikeets hanging upside down from the trees but there had also been cockatoos around. By the time he got home he’d collected a large bunch of blossoms and as he arranged them in a vase he realised that they smelt a lot like mashed potatoes.

John was looking forward to surprising Fanta by being home when she arrived home after picking her sisters up from school, but there was a lot of time before that so John got out a pile of papers on addiction and settled down on the sofa to read them. John was feeling quite proud of himself because he’d learnt enough to be able to make sense of most of the things researchers wrote in their papers, but he knew he had a long way to go.

At 3:30 pm Nancy and Ruby ran in through the front door and woke John up. John was embarrassed at them finding him asleep on the sofa and wondered how long he’d been asleep. When he got up he nearly slipped over on the book he’d been taking notes in.

“Surprise!” said John when Fanta saw him. “Tim’s taking care of the restaurant today, tomorrow and Sunday because I might be contaminated with vomit germs.”

Fanta had been moving towards John but stopped when John mentioned germs.

“Have you started vomiting?” asked Fanta.

“No. It’s just a precaution, and I’m hoping it will be a fun one – that I don’t get sick and can enjoy spending more time with you” said John.

Fanta smiled and John smiled back. He felt so lucky.

“What do you want to do on Sunday?” asked Fanta.

John hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“You decide” said John.

“I feel like going on an adventure” said Fanta. “D’arby and Syafika have been having adventures lately and I feel like I am missing out”


The Inklings: Chapter 130

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Penny refused to sit in the passenger seat of India’s car – she wanted to sit next to Gina in the back instead. Binta was usually skeptical about love – she thought that people who were in love behaved as stupidly as people who were on drugs, but there were some couples that made her wish she could find a companion, and Penny and Gina were one of those couples. As Binta got into the passenger seat of India’s car she thought about Mamadou and wondered whether they could ever be a couple again because it was tempting to think that it would solve a lot of their problems. She tried to remember what it had felt like when she’d been in love with Mamadou but couldn’t remember much, apart from a how it had been the only time she’d felt comfortable with who she was. Other feelings were easier to remember, like how embarrassed she’d felt when he’d left her and how scared she’d been at the prospect of having a baby all by herself. Binta realised that she and Mamadou had a lot to talk about and wondered whether they ever would. Maybe it was better to not talk about what had happened in case they began to hate each other.

When they arrived at India’s place Binta did as India had planned – she brought Penny’s suitcase inside while India and Gina helped Penny into her wheelchair. Then she walked home to see if Rose and Mamadou wanted to join them for morning tea.

When Binta opened the front door she could hear Rose, Syafika and Mamadou talking. They were in the kitchen drinking tea.

“Please come and have tea at India’s place instead. She instructed me to invite you to come and welcome Penny” said Binta.

Rose and Mamadou reluctantly put down their tea cups and followed Binta to India’s place, but Syafika refused, saying “She wouldn’t have invited me, would she – India wouldn’t know I was home sick”

When Rose, Binta and Mamadou arrived at India’s it was obvious that Mamadou was the one Penny most wanted to see.

“I have to tell you about the strange dream I keep having” said Penny.

“I’ll make the tea” said Rose quickly and she went to the kitchen, which didn’t surprise Binta because she knew how much Rose hated it when people recounted their dreams.

Binta and Mamadou sat down near Penny and listened as she told them how every night in hospital she’d dreamt that she’d been walking through a strange place that was part city, part forest and part temple. There was dappled light and a feeling of enclosure that you get when walking through a forest but the trees seemed to merge into the walls of buildings. In the spaces between branches and tree trunks there were windows, doors, shelves, artworks and cosy places to sit.

“I was as if a city had been grown from trees and plants” said Penny and she explained how there were small clearings with places to sit, and how there were creeks running between the tree-buildings that had little bridges over them.

“I’d like you to help me create a place like that on our block” said Penny. “I loved your house design, but I think that when you drew that you were trying to please the old me. The new me is much more adventurous because I can’t un-see what I saw in those dreams”

Binta wondered how anyone could turn Penny’s dream into a place that was practical enough to live in and looked at Mamadou to see what he was thinking.

Mamadou’s mouth was gently turned up, as if his expression had been frozen just before he smiled, and his eyes seemed to be staring into the distance despite there only being a blank wall in front of him. Binta realised that the only time she’d seen an expression like that was when she had watched The Wind in the Willows on TV as a child – it was the same expression that Toad had after he’d seen his first motor car and it indicated to Binta that Mamadou was going to become obsessed by Penny’s new idea.


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