Mamadou felt anxious. Not long after he and Ousman returned from the gallery Rose called Binta and asked them to come over urgently.
“Relax” explained Binta “Rose probably just wants me to cook dinner”
But it was worse than that. When they arrived, Rose was crying.
“What is wrong?” asked Binta.
Rose pointed to the lounge where Festus was lying asleep with his leg in a plastic cast. He had scratches on his face and bruises on his arms.
“Festus broke his leg and its my fault. I asked him to get up on the garage roof to check the condition because sometimes the roof leaks and I wanted to know whether we should replace the roof when we convert the garage into the new bathroom and laundry. But then Festus trod on a rotten patch and fell through.” said Rose
“And it isn’t just that. He won’t be able to work for two months. So we won’t have any income until he is better nor will he be able to work on the renovations. And in case you thought it couldn’t get any worse, this morning India came over to tell me that her producer friend Zikpi, who is making a TV show about ambitious renovations, wants to make an episode about my project – filming it from start to finish. Just before Festus got up on the garage roof I spoke to Zikpi on the phone and agreed to meet on Friday to explain my renovation plans. This is despite me not knowing what I’m doing. I just didn’t want to show India that.” Rose added, before flopping down on a comfy chair and looking at the ceiling.
Mamadou offered to help and asked to look at the plans. Rose told him where they were – she didn’t feel like getting up yet. Mamadou spread the plans out on the kitchen table and his eyes soon lit up at the prospect.
“Can we do the garden too?” he sang out to Rose.
“I can’t cope with the house, let alone the garden” replied Rose
“Sorry” replied Mamadou “I just had an idea for a beautiful garden to go with the beautiful house. I’ll do the work. I need a project”
Rose’s eyes lit up. She got up and went to the kitchen. Binta followed. Rose looked at Mamadou. He was skinny but probably strong. Rose imagined Festus sitting on a chair instructing Mamadou.
“If you help Festus with the house, you can do the garden” said Rose.
Binta didn’t think that was very fair, and was about to tell Rose when she noticed how happy Mamadou looked.
“I’ll draw my plan and bring it to show you” said Mamadou
“I need it by Thursday” answered Rose
When Syafika got home she found her parents sitting in the lounge room while Binta prepared dinner, and Mamadou and Ousman drew pictures of gardens.
“You’ll have to cancel the renovations” said Syafika
“I can’t” replied Rose “Zikpi is going to film it all and put it on TV for everyone to see. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the bit about Festus having a broken leg and him having to instruct Mamadou on how to install a greywater system.”
“I don’t think he can do that. We’ll have to get a plumber in – have to do it properly if it is going to be on TV.” said Festus. But then he thought a bit more and added “Or he could become my new apprentice!”
“But if Dad isn’t working how are you going to pay an apprentice or pay for anything?” asked Syafika.
“Just as well you are still working!” answered Rose. “You’ll be the breadwinner while Festus gets better”
“So I’m going to be paying for the stinking renovations that I don’t want?” asked Syafika. But she was really only pretending to be angry. She wanted to support the family because it would make her feel important. It was the best convincing Rose had done so far – Syafika was no longer against the renovations. She sat down next to Mamadou to look at the plans.
The phone rang but nobody could be bothered getting up to answer it.