Tag Archives: 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.

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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.


The Inklings: Chapter 21

When Syafika got home from John and D’arby’s place on Sunday afternoon she was feeling tired but excited. She never would have imagined that she’d enjoy the company of people as unconventional as John or D’arby as much as she did. It was as if she’d spent the day in a parallel universe, one where her life wasn’t dominated by feelings of inadequacy, one where she could enjoy doing and learning things instead of having herself at the centre of her thoughts – and she didn’t have to think about herself because she knew she wasn’t being judged. Who’d have thought that Syafika would enjoy something as potentially embarrassing and dirty as scavenging and then learning to screen print? Not even the presence of Ousman and Binta at home could make Syafika angry that afternoon.

Ousman was sitting on the front steps when Syafika arrived. “What are you doing out here?” asked Syafika.

“Sulking” answered Ousman.

“Why?” asked Syafika. She was interested enough to stop and wait for an answer.

Ousman sighed and said “It’s a long story. You probably don’t have time”.

Syafika realized that Ousman was making an observation more than accusing her of not caring. If she’d been in a bad mood she still would have been offended though. Luckily for Ousman, today Syafika realized that what he had just said was true. She never did give him much time so why should he expect her to want to listen now? She was tempted to defend herself but decided it would be more productive if she just sat down and made it clear that she wanted to hear more.

“So?” said Syafika.

Ousman sighed again. He seemed to be having trouble working out what to say. Even this new, improved version of Syafika derived some amusement from this, but it was mixed with pity.

“Imagine if you’d never met your father and if you didn’t even know who he was” said Ousman eventually. “What would you do? Would you just accept it if your Mum didn’t want to tell you anything? Or would you try to find out?”

Syafika was very tempted to tell Ousman what she’d heard about his father, but for some reason she hesitated. She remembered the day she’d heard her mother and father discussing this issue in the kitchen. That was way back when Binta was still pregnant and Syafika was only 13. Festus had been talking about Binta’s anonymous donor so Syafika had asked what that meant. She could still remember the embarrassment she felt when Festus explained how a woman could go to a special kind of bank if she wanted to have a baby without a man. Rose had been so annoyed at this discussion that she’d left the room. At the time Syafika couldn’t understand why her mum was angry, but now she realized that it was probably because Festus had been making up stories as a joke.

“Well?” said Ousman. He was still waiting for Syafika to answer his question.

“I’d want to find out” answered Syafika.

“Me too!” said Ousman. “I wanted to find out, and I did, and now Mum is very angry with me”.

“How did you find out?” asked Syafika, with some strain. What she’d really wanted to say was “What did you find out!”

“I read Mum’s diaries” replied Ousman. “I think that’s the main reason she’s angry, because she doesn’t…” Ousman stopped talking and looked at Syafika as if he’d just realized who he’d been talking to and had decided that he couldn’t trust her enough to tell her any more.


The Inklings: Chapter 4

Syafika thought she was madly in love. She was definitely behaving crazily. She’d made a cake for the only person who made her want to go to work – Anthony. Then she told him she’d made the cake because he was leaving, but what she really wanted him to understand was that she loved him and didn’t want him to leave.

After lunch the people at work gathered to eat the cake. Anthony gave a short speech, taking the opportunity to thank everybody and give compliments. He thanked Syafika for the cake and everybody agreed that it was one of the best chocolate cakes they’d tasted. Someone even asked Syafika for the recipe.

Still, when Syafika walked home, she carried the empty cake container unenthusiastically. The day had been such an anticlimax. In her dreams Anthony was much more impressed by the cake and had begged her to come to Adelaide with him. In reality Syafika had listened to Anthony announce that his girlfriend was pregnant. Everybody clapped, but all Syafika could hear was “girlfriend”. What girlfriend? Syafika had been so convinced that the love she felt for Anthony meant that he had to be for her. She’d never heard anything about his girlfriend and she’d never considered that he might not be single. She felt even more stupid and left out when it seemed that everyone else knew about Anthony’s girlfriend.

As Syafika walked back through the park she realized that it was raining again, and that she had left her umbrella at work, but she didn’t care that she was getting rained on. She didn’t know how she would care about anything anymore. Then, just to make things worse, she realized that she was such a small part of the world that it didn’t matter what she felt anyway.

It didn’t help that when Syafika got home her cousin Ousman was there, with her aunt Binta. Syafika’s Mum Rose was still at the beauty salon. She went there weekly and her appointments always went twice as long as they were supposed to. Syafika’s father Festus would always say that Rose was having an affair with her beautician. Syafika loved her father but not when he said things like that, because she wasn’t really sure whether he was serious or not.

Binta was cooking dinner when Syafika came into the kitchen. Binta always did things like that. Rose was so disorganized and Binta was so much the opposite that Binta couldn’t bear to be in their house unless she was allowed to do some cooking, cleaning or organizing. Rose didn’t care. She had told Binta to come for dinner and then hadn’t made any attempt to have anything ready on time. Syafika preferred Binta’s cooking to her mother’s and would have been pleased to see her in the kitchen if it didn’t mean that Ousman would also be there.

Nobody believed Syafika when she said she hated Ousman. He was a 10 year old boy and everyone thought he was cute, with his curly hair, big eyes and round cheeks. He was also incredibly precocious, which was the reason Syafika hated him. Ousman thought he was smarter than her. How dare a 10 year old think that! Ousman was also very good at arguing and his confidence made it look like he knew much more about things than he really did. He was determined to argue with Syafika whenever he saw her.

“Hey Syaf!” said Ousman when he saw her. “Did you read the article in the paper today about how corrupt your government department is? Have you been taking bribes at work?”

Syafika put the dirty cake plate on the kitchen bench and walked to her room without answering Ousman, but he didn’t give up that easily and followed her down the hallway.

Syafika slammed her bedroom door and moved her bed in front of it to prevent Ousman from coming in. “What a little shit!” she muttered as she dialled her friend Fanta’s number.

“Fantaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I’m dying!” said Syafika when Fanta answered. Of course Fanta said she’d come over straight away.

Fanta had just got back from her holiday that morning, but Syafika had been so obsessed with Anthony for the past month that she hadn’t even realized that Fanta was away. Fanta has sent Syafika a postcard, but it was still in a mail bag in another country and would arrive in a few days time. In their last conversation Fanta had told Syafika to keep away from Anthony and so Syafika had been avoiding Fanta. She only remembered Fanta now because she needed her.

Rose had just got back from the beauty salon when Fanta arrived and Binta was about to serve dinner. Syafika was still sulking in her room, and Ousman was sitting on the floor outside her door, reading the paper. Rose asked Fanta to stay for dinner and stormed up the corridor to get Syafika. Rose only got really angry with Syafika when she was sulking. She picked Ousman up by the elbow and propelled him down the corridor in the direction of the dining room. “Syafika!” she yelled through the door. “Stop being so childish and come and have dinner. You can sulk in your room as much as you like afterwards. Fanta is here.”

Rose heard Syafika’s bed being pushed away from the door and knew Syafika was coming so she went to start putting plates on the table.

Syafika was confused when Fanta greeted her with a present and even more confused when she opened it and saw it was a painting of some trees. Her aunt Binta was far more interested in the painting than Syafika. Syafika didn’t even listen as Fanta explained to Binta where she’d got the painting. Fanta’s voice was a faint “blah blah blah” in the background of Syafika’s thoughts. She was thinking about Anthony, of course. It was only when Fanta mentioned love that Syafika tuned back into the conversation. “He said you needed respect and trust as well as love to marry someone” said Fanta as she finished her story.

Festus thought it was his turn to say something. “Where’s Amanda tonight then?” he demanded. Amanda was Syafika’s 16 year old sister. She was a difficult teenager. When Amanda was fourteen her parents had discovered that she’d been sneaking out at night. Festus was so angry that he installed a bolt on the outside of Amanda’s bedroom door and locked her into her room for the night. The next morning he found her lying outside on the concrete driveway with a broken leg – she’d tried to escape in the middle of the night by jumping out of her third floor bedroom window. This really scared Festus, especially as he only found Amanda when he was about to reverse the car over her. It scared him so much that from then on he decided to let Amanda sort herself and now she was allowed to go wherever she wanted whenever she wanted.

Rose had also given up on Amanda. When beauty treatments and shopping hadn’t cured her Rose had started to treat Amanda like an invalid. Amanda didn’t seem to mind this, perhaps because it meant that her mother did everything she asked. Amanda stopped eating with the family and got Rose to bring her food to her bedroom. She also stopped going to school and spent most of the day sleeping.

As her older sister, maybe Syafika would have helped Amanda more, but Syafika just thought that Amanda was being selfish and needed to grow up. She started to ignore Amanda completely, which was pretty easy because Amanda rarely came out of her room during the hours when Syafika was awake.

After Festus’ comment the room was quiet for a while. Then Ousman, who had been reading the paper while eating, began to laugh at an article he’d found and started reading it aloud for everyone else’s benefit. Syafika thought she’d eaten enough to be able to leave the table and took Fanta with her.

“What happened?” asked Fanta, when they were safely in Syafika’s room, with the bed in front of the door.

“You are always right Fanta, but this time I’m glad I didn’t listen to you” said Syafika, and she started crying. Fanta sat down on the bed next to Syafika, and although she knew what must have happened, she asked “What happened?”

“You remember how I told you about Anthony?” asked Syafika. Of course Fanta remembered. Syafika hadn’t had anything else on her mind for months. Fanta nodded and Syafika continued.

“I didn’t stop thinking about him, like you said I should. I stopped talking to you instead. You must be angry. I haven’t called you for weeks – although you didn’t call me either!”

Fanta didn’t say anything, so Syafika continued.

“When I called you today, it was because I was feeling really empty” said Syafika, and tears started to flow. “Anthony is leaving, but that’s not the really bad thing, the really had thing is that he has a girlfriend and she is pregnant!”

“Syafika, did anything happen between you and Anthony?” asked Fanta.

“No” said Syafika.

“Well, that’s good then.” said Fanta. “And it is good that he is leaving – it will make it easier for you to get over him.”

“So you are happy that he didn’t even notice I existed? I knew you would be like this” said Syafika. She was getting angry, but it wasn’t really with Fanta. Fanta always got straight to the heart of things, and Syafika was angry with herself because she could see how stupid she’d been. For months she’d been telling Fanta every detail she knew about Anthony. Fanta had heard about every word Anthony had ever said to Syafika (except for the ten or so in the past month). Fanta knew what Anthony wore, when his birthday was and what he liked to eat for lunch. Syafika talked about Anthony like he was her husband.

“Maybe I should start stalking Anthony and his girlfriend. I could try to scare her away from him. Maybe she is the one who wants to leave, not him. If I get rid of her then maybe he will stay and I will still be able to see him at work.” said Syafika.

Fanta gave Syafika her most disapproving look, until she realized that Syafika was trying to hide a smirk. At least Syafika wasn’t taking this all too seriously. That was what Fanta liked best about Syafika. Syafika may have loved drama, but she could also laugh at herself when she went too far.

“At least now I know what it is like to love someone.” Said Syafika

Fanta didn’t say anything. She didn’t think she was experienced enough in love to be able to tell Syafika that she thought what Syafika felt for Anthony was more like obsession than love.

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