The Inklings: Chapter 100

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

It was raining when Syafika left Fanta’s place, but Syafika liked being outside in the rain. There was still a little bit of light in the sky when Syafika arrived home so she decided to have a look at how the runoff was flowing through the back garden. As Syafika walked out the back door she discovered that Festus had set up his tools under the back verandah and was making something from pieces of wood.

“What are you making?” Syafika asked.

“I’m making two wheelchair ramps for India so that Penny can get in the front and back doors of her house” said Festus.

“That’s nice of you. I hope Penny and Gina are able to feel comfortable at India’s house” said Syafika. Syafika couldn’t imagine how she would survive living with India and realised that Penny and Gina would have to put up with it for at least a year.

“India will be on her best behaviour. She feels responsible for the fire and car accidents because she’s the one who asked Gina to make sweet potato chips, and it was India’s friends who filled the street with parked cars” said Festus.

Syafika took off her shoes and paddled along the miniature river to the pond. She could hear frogs croaking but it was too dark to see them. Then Syafika heard Rose telling Festus to come inside and reminding him that it was the 15th of March. Syafika had forgotten it was the anniversary of her grandparent’s death. She rushed inside to have a quick shower before 9pm.

Every year at 9pm on 15th March Rose would select something from her parents’ music collection to play and everyone had to sit in silence and listen to it from start to finish. It was not something that Syafika looked forward too, but she endured it without complaint because she knew how important it was to Rose.

When Syafika came into the loungeroom Rose was carefully opening a box that held the CDs, cassettes and records. Ousman was next to Binta and trying to stick his head into the box to see what Rose would choose to play.

“Be careful Ousman. The records are very fragile and precious” said Syafika.

There was a rule about which music was chosen. Each year they would play what was at the front of the box and then put it at the back of the box and Rose would not let anyone change the order. If anyone wanted to play any of the music on any other day of the year Rose would have to supervise and make sure that the order was not changed.

At the front of the box there was a CD and Binta took it out. The cover had a picture of a man sitting at a piano on it. Ousman laughed at the man’s hair because it was parted down the middle and stuck out a bit at the sides.

“This is the pianist who got so carried away that he often played wrong notes” said Binta.

Syafika remembered how when she was a girl her piano teacher had often been cross at her for playing wrong notes and decided that she might enjoy this record.

Syafika looked at Mamadou to see what he thought of this ceremony because it was the first time he’d been there to take part. Mamadou looked happy and Syafika wondered whether all artists were obsessed with music.

Festus turned on the lamp near the CD player and turned off the overhead light. Syafika realised that she sitting in the darkest seat in the room and was glad because it meant she wouldn’t have to worry about her face giving away any of her thoughts.

The first piece of music was slightly familiar to Syafika but not something she’d ever tried to play so she wasn’t able to tell if the pianist made any mistakes. The left hand played the melody and the right hand ran up and down the keyboard making complicated patterns that Syafika suspected were beyond her ability. Syafika enojyed the piece and wondered whether her grandparents had hoped she would be able to play it one day.

The second piece was something Syafika had played, but never as beautifully. The pianist on the record was explaining something using music, as if he wasn’t able to talk but had something very important to say. When Syafika had played the piece she’d been so worried about keeping time and getting the notes right that she’d made it sound robotic.

Syafika looked at Ousman to see if he was getting bored. He had his eyes closed and was leaning against Binta. At first Syafika thought he’d fallen asleep but then he smiled and moved his head to the other side so Syafika realised he was just enjoying the music.

The third piece of music was a trio and something Syafika had heard her grandfather listening to many times. The violin’s cheerful start made tears come to Syafika’s eyes. She remembered her grandfather’s bushy eyebrows and couldn’t help crying. Then Syafika remembered a stream of other things, like the day she’d got stuck at the top of a pear tree and her grandmother had called out helpful instructions to guide her down, and the taste of the dark purple plums her grandparents had grown. Syafika wiped tears from her cheeks and tried not to sniffle too loudly.

The next piece was just for piano and not something Syafika remembered hearing before. It reminded her of running up a hill and her mind drifted to other things. Syafika realised she missed being a kid who had nothing much to worry about apart from music lessons and she realised that she missed her piano teacher too.  Next Syafika remembered the photo of Anthony that D’arby had shown her that evening and the plans they’d made for her to contact Anthony. She realised how much she enjoyed being part of a plan that involved team work. It had been fun to spy on Anthony by herself, but also a bit too scary for comfort. Now that D’arby, Fanta and John were involved Syafika thought she would be able to relax and enjoy the adventure more.

When Syafika realised that instead of listening to the music she’d been thinking about Anthony and she decided that she’d give her full attention to the music for the rest of the CD. So Syafika spent the next half hour thinking only about the music she was listening to and she enjoyed it so much that when it was over she was disappointed.

When Festus turned the light on Syafika realised that Amanda was sitting on the floor near the door and looking really sad. When Amanda noticed that Syafika was looking at her she dashed out of the room and up the stairs so fast that Syafika wasn’t sure she’d really seen her.

Nobody else in the room mentioned Amanda and Syafika wondered whether they’d even noticed her. Ousman asked whether they could listen to music like that more often but Syafika didn’t wait to hear what Rose and Binta would say because she didn’t want anyone to notice that her eyes were red from crying. She said “Goodnight” and went to her room without looking back.

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