Tag Archives: Binta

The Inklings: Chapter 126

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

“Mum, where’s Aunty Rose?” asked Ousman. He looked really excited.

“She went for a walk” said Binta. Binta was a bit cross with Rose. When India had asked if they could help her today when she collected Penny from hospital and finished preparing for the street party Rose had firmly refused, with a vague excuse. The result was that Binta had felt she had no choice but to agree to help India, even though she didn’t feel comfortable in India’s company. India was a friendly person and generally kind, but she was a terrible listener – she dominated conversations and could be quite bossy, and Binta found this exhausting.

“Syafika didn’t come home last night because she was vomiting so she stayed at a friend’s place and is coming home now” said Ousman.

Binta heard what Ousman said but didn’t really take it in because she was looking at the time.

“Great. Time for you to go and get the bus now darling” said Binta. Binta walked Ousman to the bus stop and when she got home there was still half an hour before she’d promised to be at India’s place, so she went to see if she had any new emails.

As Binta sat down at her computer she felt anxious. She had a feeling that she ought to urgently be doing something but she didn’t know what she should be doing. Of course she knew that she urgently needed to start earning an income but she didn’t know how she should do that. Every day she looked at job ads but hadn’t yet found one she met all the criteria for. She’d hoped that she could help Mamadou create a business, but the fire and his visa conditions had made that seem unlikely to succeed. All these thoughts were swirling around Binta’s mind when she clicked on a new email from a familiar name – it was from Bert, who’d she’d been to uni with but hadn’t seen since.

Bert was wondering what Binta was up to these days and asking for help because his animation business had a new project that was really ambitious and he wanted someone to help him keep track of everything.

At first Binta couldn’t understand why Bert would think she could help him, but then she remembered that back at uni they’d worked well together. Whenever they were assigned to the same group for assignments they’d done well.

Binta started typing a reply to Bert and was going to say that she was definitely interested in helping him with his project, but then it occurred to her that she ought to see what she could find out about Bert’s business first. Binta did an internet search and soon found an impressive website with a photo of Bert and lots of impressive-looking staff. When Binta read about what they did she became even more impressed – it seemed that they were at the leading edge. Binta was curious to know how Bert had ended up with an animation company and that’s when she started comparing what she’d achieved with what he had. Binta realised she’d probably have to send Bert her CV, or at the very least she’d have to tell him what she’d been up to, and she became embarrassed because she felt like she hadn’t reached her potential. Binta decided she shouldn’t reply afterall so she deleted the reply then went to clean her teeth.

As Binta brushed her teeth she looked at herself in the mirror and realised she was self-sabotaging, so she returned to the computer and emailed Bert saying that she’d love to help. When Binta walked to India’s place she noticed that she was feeling happier and more energetic than usual.

Gina was waiting by the front door when Binta arrived at India’s place and before Binta could say good morning India came out of the front door and bustled them both into her car. As they drove to the hospital India explained in detail the plans for the day.


The Inklings: Chapter 111

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

As Syafika walked home from Fanta’s place she wished she’d changed into her running clothes because she wanted to run but the shoes she was wearing were not suitable for running in – just the walking she’d done in them that day had given her blisters on her little toes.

“Why am I putting up with this!” she asked herself, and took her shoes off. She put them in her bag, then ran barefoot the rest of the way home.

When Syafika arrived home she saw a tow truck loading up a large white car. She was relieved to see that there was no obvious damage to the car, not because she cared about the car, but because she didn’t like the thought of more people getting injured by cars in her street.

Syafika wanted to tell her mum about her date with Anthony but couldn’t because India was there. India and Festus were examining a drawing of a building. They looked angry. Rose was writing notes. Syafika could smell beans and realised that her dad must have cooked dinner. Binta was making salad.

“Where are your shoes?” asked India.

Syafika had forgotten that she was barefoot. She looked at her feet and noticed that they were a bit grubby because she’d run through some muddy sections of footpath on the way home. “In my bag. They were too uncomfortable” said Syafika.

“Better give your feet a wash” suggested Binta.

Syafika didn’t like all the scruitiny her feet were getting so she went to have a shower.

When Syafika came back India was still in the kitchen and Rose had made a few more pages of notes.

“What’s going on?” asked Syafika.

“We’re organizing a street meeting for Thursday night” said India. “Some greedy a-hole wants to build this disgusting thing where the burnt-out houses are”

Syafika looked at the drawing India was pointing too and realised that it was a large block of flats.

“The block of land won’t be big enough for a building that big” said Syafika.

“They want to buy us out too” said Festus.

“And they’ve also made offers to the people with blocks backing onto the site – we went and spoke to everyone this afternoon to see what we could find out” said India.

“Can I come to the meeting?” asked Syafika. She didn’t want a block of flats next door and was worried her parents might consider moving.

“Of course!” said India.

Mamadou, Ousman and Aminata came into the kitchen and India realised that it was dinner time so she got up to go.

Syafika noticed that Aminata was making a hissing sound.

“Is she ok?” asked Syafika.

“She’s been making that noise for a couple of hours” said Ousman. “I think she’s imitating the sound of something”

“It sounds like a tyre deflating” said Binta.


The Inklings: Chapter 95

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

Aminata paced up and down along the sill of the front window for 15 minutes after Ousman left for school. Binta wondered whether Aminata hoped Ousman would sneak back home and she suspected that Ousman would have liked to. Ousman had seemed disappointed that he was going to miss out on going to the hospital that day.

Mamadou came inside carrying a roll of drawings of the garden he’d designed for Gina and Penny. Binta didn’t think that Penny or Gina would be very interested in building a garden when they didn’t have a house anymore but Mamadou was confident that once they saw his design they would want to start straight away.

There was another barrier to Mamadou starting his gardening business though. Binta had discovered that not only was Mamadou’s visa temporary, but it also didn’t allow him to work. Binta thought that was very mean and hoped that they could get the conditions changed.

Mamadou wasn’t as upset as Binta. He didn’t mind there being a barrier to him earning money and he was determined that it wasn’t going to stop him from building gardens. He could see that Binta was upset though and realised that she’d been looking forward to running his business.

At the hospital Mamadou and Binta found Gina sitting next to Penny’s bed. Gina and Penny were happy to see Binta and Mamadou, and Penny was extra pleased when she noticed that Mamadou was carrying a roll of drawings.

“They discharged me this morning” said Gina. “But I don’t really want to go… I can’t go home and I don’t want to leave Penny”

“Tell her not to worry about me” said Penny. “I’m going to be out of here soon too… in a few days”

Mamadou was very pleased with this news. He’d been really worried about Penny. Mamadou wanted to show his drawings but thought it was too early in the conversation.

“India has been working hard to create a kind of home for you at her place” said Binta.

“Yes, I should show appreciation for what India is doing for us” said Gina. “What if you take me there when you leave? If I return to our street with company it won’t be as painful”

Mamadou and Binta were happy with this suggestion, and Penny tried to look happy too, but inside she was sad that she had to stay behind in hospital. To take her mind off this she asked Mamadou to show her his drawings.

Gina looked over Penny’s shoulder as she unrolled the drawings. There were ten pages. The first page was a garden plan and the next 8 pages were views from different angles and drawings of some of the details, including the outdoor shower. Penny and Gina made approving noises as they looked at these pages, but it was the final page that they found really exceptional. It was of a cute little house that was almost completely hidden in the garden.  The door and some windows were visible but the roof was covered in garden.

“You’ve designed us a new house too!” said Penny.

“Yes. I hope it isn’t too soon to start thinking about what you might build. I hope I haven’t gone too far. This is what the house of a real garden lover should look like”.

“I would love to live in that house” said Gina.

“So would I” said Penny. “I would hate to move to a normal house now that we have nothing to put in it. It would feel so empty. But this little house would be so cosy and comfortable.

Mamadou looked at Binta and was happy to see that she was smiling.


The Inklings: Chapter 89

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

Gina and Penny had meant it when they’d told Mamadou that he could do their garden next, but first they wanted him to replace the fence and were happy with his idea of including a wide gate with an archway over the top. The fence was going to double as a trellis and Mamadou planned to plant tasty things along the boundary because he liked the idea of Gina and Penny bumping into Rose and Festus when they all came out to pick some boundary berries or climbing beans.

When Gina and Penny saw Mamadou knocking down the old fence they came outside and walked over to him. Mamadou tried to not look annoyed when he saw them. He liked Penny and Gina but when he was in working mode he didn’t like being disturbed.

“Hello” said Gina. “I know you don’t want us to stop you when you are busy but I’m afraid I need to talk to you about money”

“I don’t want any money so no need to talk about it” said Mamadou. Mamadou didn’t want to have to put a price on his work or to have to do invoices or keep tax records. He’d rather not get paid.

“Don’t be silly” said Penny. “You have a family. We can’t make you work for us and not give anything back”.

Mamadou just wanted to design and build the garden and he’d rather do it for free than have to deal with the money side, but it was true that he should be helping Binta pay for things.

“I know you aren’t interested in doing the calculations for a quote so we want to pay you by the hour. And for materials, of course” said Gina. “I got some quotes from other people so I could get an idea of what a fair hourly rate is and I’ve written it all down and put it in this envelope. I’ll leave it here on this fence post and let you get back to your work. Please come and have a cup of tea with us when you finish for the day”

Mamadou nodded and pretended he was getting back to work but as soon as Penny and Gina had gone back inside their house Mamadou went inside to find Binta. She was looking at job ads on her computer and she didn’t look very happy. Mamadou wondered whether it was a good time to talk to Binta, but he decided to try anyway because he didn’t want to have taken a break from his work for nothing.

“Will you do the paperwork for my garden business?” Mamadou asked Binta.

Binta looked at Mamadou and it took a couple of seconds for her to absorb what he’d just said. It sounded like Mamadou had decided that he would be building many gardens. “Ok” said Binta. She was a bit worried about what it would be like to work with Mamadou but she did think it was a good idea for him to try to make money from his gardens and it made sense for her to help him now that she was out of work.

“Good” said Mamadou and he handed Binta the envelope saying “Gina gave me this. Please will you arrange everything to do with money and just let me do the gardens? And pay yourself, of course”

Binta was happy to be able to stop reading job ads. After she read what Gina had written, Binta’s first impulse was to follow Mamadou outside and ask him to answer all the questions that had just popped into her head, but then she realized that what he wanted was to not have to think about any of the things she wanted to ask him about. So instead Binta started making a list of all the things she’d need to sort out so Mamadou could charge money for his gardens. It was pretty long list because Mamadou didn’t even have a bank account.


The Inklings: Chapter 48

To read the story from the beginning go here.

The smell of Turkish delight tempted Syafika out of her room, where she’d been lying in bed reading. As Syafika wandered towards the living room she expected to find something nice to eat and hoped there would also be some interesting visitors, but she was disappointed with what she found. Rose was sitting cross-legged on the floor along with Ousman, Binta and India (from up the street). They all had their hands in a silly pose and eyes closed. On the coffee table was a tray with a pretty tea set. When Syafika walked over and lifted the lid of the teapot nobody acknowledged her. Syafika was disappointed that she’d only smelled tea, not cakes and she might have made a rude comment except that India being there made her think twice about it. Instead Syafika went to the kitchen to look for something sweet to eat.

While waiting for three mince pies to heat up, Syafika went and got her book and sat down at the kitchen table to read, while listening out for signs of life in the living room. She half expected to hear some chanting soon.

Syafika’s mince pies were long eaten by the time Ousman finally came into the kitchen. “That was so cool!” he said.

“What was so cool?” asked Syafika, putting her book down.

“We were meditating, where you try to think about nothing. I kept seeing colours and strange pictures and all these thoughts kept trying to sneak into my head like someone else was coming along to make trouble and I had to keep pushing the ideas away again, but it all made me feel so happy!” explained Ousman and Syafika could see the happiness in his face. She couldn’t help feeling she’d missed out on something, but would never admit it. Her first impulse was to roll her eyes and say “Boring!” but for some reason Syafika didn’t find Ousman so annoying anymore and didn’t want to deliberately hurt his feelings. Instead she asked “What has brought all this meditation on?”

“India just turned up with her pot of rose and apple tea and asked us if we wanted to help her end the year on a good note and sort out our thoughts so we are ready for the new year.” said Ousman. Syafika couldn’t say what she was thinking because she saw that India was coming into the kitchen, along with Rose and Binta. India was carrying the tray with the teaset on it. India said something about it being time to feed the chickens and asked Rose to open the front door for her.

“Does India have chickens” Syafika asked when India had gone.

“Does she ever!” replied Rose. “Next thing we know, she’ll have a goat”

“No, not a goat, an alpaca” said Binta and she and Rose started giggling. Syafika thought it might have made her laugh too, if she’d known what an aplaca was.

“Can we get a goat?” Ousman asked Binta.

“I don’t know” said Binta and she looked from Rose to Syafika as she asked “Would I be allowed to keep a goat?”

“Why would you want a goat?” asked Syafika. “Not for goats milk, surely”.

“Yes, and what about one of those fluffy goats for the wool? I could spin it and knit it into jumpers and beanies” said Binta and she and Rose started giggling again.

Syafika was getting annoyed now. “What was in that tea?” she asked. But that just made Rose and Binta giggle more.

“I think they are just making fun of India” said Ousman.

But when Festus came home a couple of hours later, Syafika saw the influence that India was having when Rose started asking Festus if he’d ever had to install a composting toilet and whether it would be a lot of work to put in a greywater system. Festus shrugged and asked whether you even needed a plumber to install a composting toilet if it wasn’t connected to water or the sewer. “Is this for India?” he asked.

“No, at least not yet” answered Rose. “I was hoping to beat her to it”

“Does she have a greywater system?” asked Festus.

“She’s looking into one” said Rose. “How quickly could you put one in?”

“You could tell India you’d forgotten you had a greywater system” commented Binta and she and Rose were about to start giggling again when Festus gave an annoyed sigh.

“Where do you want to collect the greywater from and what do you want to use it for?” he asked.

Rose shrugged and said “Whatever is easiest for you”.

Festus went out to his van to get a catalogue and then sat down at the kitchen table to draw a piping design and decide the pieces he needed to order.


The Inklings: Chapter 34

Binta wondered why it was that after arguing with someone she always felt so much better, even when nothing had been resolved. Ever since she’d yelled at Fanta, Binta had felt much more positive about what had happened. She and Ousman had started talking again, and most importantly, Binta wasn’t angry with him or Fanta anymore. She wasn’t quite ready to admit that she was happy about what they’d been up to, but she was excited to think that Ousman might soon meet his father. She wondered what Mamadou would think of their son and before she could stop herself, Binta started wondering what Mamadou would think of her now.

Binta remembered when, earlier that year, Fanta had given Syafika a painting done by Mamadou. Now she realized that Fanta must have known who Mamadou was when she met him on holiday and bought that painting. Indeed, Fanta must have already known who Mamadou was before she visited him – Fanta must have tracked Mamadou down and just pretended she was a tourist. Binta blushed when she realized that Fanta must have known who Mamadou was talking about when he told her (thinking she was just a tourist) that he’d been planning to marry an Australian woman until he found out that she didn’t trust him. At the time Binta wished she could have told her side of the story, but now she realized that she may as well go along with Mamadou’s version because it was true that she hadn’t trusted Mamadou. When it happened Binta thought she had good reason not to trust Mamadou, but now she could see that she had added a large amount of imagination to small inconsistencies in some of the things Mamadou said. In her head she had turned minor things into major ones and instead of asking Mamadou to explain things that didn’t make sense she’d accused him of things he hadn’t done.

“I should have known!” said Binta to herself when she remembered how every time she’d gotten angry with Mamadou he’d been able to turn things around and make it her fault. Of course it made sense that their arguments would always be at least partly because of things Binta did, so it wasn’t fair for her to assign all the blame to Mamadou in the first place, but Binta hadn’t been able to see that when she was angry. Binta hoped she was wiser now. She didn’t think that Mamadou would have forgiven her though and hoped that Mamadou wouldn’t let his anger at her affect his relationship with Ousman.


The Inklings: Chapter 31

Fanta was anxious as she walked to Syafika’s place. Syafika had invited Fanta to dinner because Ousman and Binta were also coming for dinner and Syafika hoped that Fanta being there too would somehow make it more bearable. Fanta had a feeling that there would be arguments tonight though.

When Fanta arrived she found Rose in the front garden. Rose was busy digging up her gardenia bushes.

“What are you doing?” asked Fanta, with pain in her voice. The gardenias were flowering and smelt beautiful. Fanta couldn’t understand why Rose would be destroying them.

Rose stood up and pointed down the street. “Look!” she said. “See how many houses now have vegetables growing in their front yards? I used to grow vegetables and herbs and tomatoes in the front yard, but then all the rich people started moving into the street and they looked down their noses at me and complained that the fertilizer I was using stank, so I moved the veggie patch to the back yard and planted gardenias here instead.”

Rose paused so that Fanta had time to peer down the street. Then she continued.

“Well, then a few months ago it started to be trendy to grow your own vegetables and so now everyone has been pulling up their gardenias and planting vegetables! See number 32? They even have a worm farm!” said Rose.

“That black box on legs?” asked Fanta

“Yes! So now I’m going to plant basil and chives and chillies and rockmelons and sunflowers and zucchinis and whatever else I like! And then I’m going to put on the stinkiest fertilizer I can find. I might even try to get some chicken or cow pooh” said Rose and she chuckled.

As Fanta looked up the street she noticed that Rose had by far the biggest front yard. Fanta the real estate agent chuckled as she estimated the value of the land that would soon be covered in manure.

Fanta was going to ask Rose where Syafika was and whether Ousman and Binta were there yet, but Rose had returned her attention to digging, so Fanta went inside instead. Not surprisingly, Binta was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Ousman was there too. Binta had given him the job of washing the vegetables and while he wasn’t reluctant to do the job, he wasn’t giving it his full attention. When he heard Fanta say hello to his mother, Ousman turned around with a smile on his face. Binta wasn’t smiling though. She stopped what she was doing and looked sternly at Fanta.

“Where do I start!” said Binta. “How dare you interfere in my life in such a way! How dare you!”

Fanta realized that Binta had found out about her secret project. She hadn’t really expected such anger to be directed at her though. Fanta was certain she’d been doing a good thing.

When Fanta didn’t respond Binta continued “Why didn’t you talk to me about this? Didn’t you think I had the right to know what my own son was up to?”

“Ousman begged me to help him and not to tell anyone” explained Fanta, but she could see that perhaps she hadn’t done the wisest thing and that she should have consulted Binta.

“What are you doing here anyway? How can you think you know what is right for my son when you are always leaving your daughters at home and going out on your own?” said Binta angrily and then she turned her back on Fanta and pretended to be stirring the contents of a saucepan.

There were plenty of things Fanta could have said, but because she could feel tears forming in her eyes she turned and left instead. As she walked off down the street Fanta knew that she would regret not having stayed to explain things, but couldn’t bear to go back. Fanta was used to people she didn’t know assuming that her sisters were really her daughters, but she hadn’t expected it from someone she considered to be a friend. She imagined Syafika’s family discussing her – talking about her having been a teenage mother and how she tried to trick people into thinking her kids were her sisters. Fanta wondered what Syafika really believed. Fanta’s sisters were almost young enough to be her children and she was their guardian but Fanta was hurt that these people might not believe her when she said they were not her children.

Fanta was also hurt by Binta saying that she didn’t know what was good for Ousman. Maybe Syafika hadn’t told Binta how Fanta’s father had died just before Fanta’s youngest sister was born, or how Fanta’s mother had then abandoned them all and run off with a new man. After going through that, Fanta thought she did have some idea of what Ousman felt when his mother didn’t want him to know who his father was.

Fanta wondered whether Binta was right to think that Fanta shouldn’t go out and leave her sisters behind. Fanta had always considered that she should be able to have a separate social life, like she would have if her parents had been around. She never left her sisters on their own, they always had a babysitter, and tonight they were home with their aunt and uncle, who were practically their parents anyway.

Fanta wondered what would have happened if she had proposed to Binta that they try to find Ousman’s father. She knew Binta’s initial answer would have been “No!”, but would Binta have eventually changed her mind? Fanta decided that Binta probably would have eventually agreed with the plan to find Ousman’s father and Fanta began to regret not having discussed it with Binta first. She wished she had been able to say so.

After gathering her thoughts on the walk home, Fanta realized she needed to call Syafika, who would at least need to know why she hadn’t stayed for dinner. Festus answered the phone. He’d been instructed to tell Fanta that Syafika was too angry to talk to her. “Of course Syafika feels betrayed too” thought Fanta. She could imagine how angry Syafika would feel when she found out that she’d been left out of a secret.

After Fanta explained to her aunt and uncle why she’d come home so early her uncle told her his news. He’d had a phone call. The letter had been delivered successfully. Fanta smiled and hoped she’d eventually be forgiven.


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