To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/
When Syafika woke up on Saturday morning a shower of rain was just finishing and so she decided she’d have breakfast in the garden to enjoy the freshness in the air.
Syafika walked out into the garden carrying her breakfast on a tray. She had a towel across her shoulders that she was planning to use to dry the outdoor table and chairs with. Syafika sat down and was pouring herself a cup of tea when Rose came out into the garden and sat down at the table with Syafika. Syafika noticed Rose looking at her breakfast with a critical look on her face.
“What?” asked Syafika.
“Would you like me to poach you some eggs to go with that toast?” said Rose. “With all that running you’ve been doing you need to eat more protein”
“Lots of herbivores are really good runners” said Syafika.
Rose wanted to tell Syafika that she was being silly but decided to hold her tongue because she wanted Syafika to be in a good mood for her next question.
“You are coming to India’s birthday party this afternoon aren’t you?” said Rose.
Normally Syafika would have wanted to avoid a party at India’s house, but this time she was interested in going because she thought there might be suitable strangers there that she could test out Celine’s tricks on.
“Ok” said Syafika.
Rose smiled and watched Syafika drinking tea. Syafika was listening to water trickling through Mamadou’s garden.
“Has India asked Mamadou to build her a garden yet?” asked Syafika
“No” said Rose. “Why?”
“I bet that’s her plan. I bet that at the party she will corner Mamadou and organize everything. She’ll make sure he has just started working on her garden when Zikpi’s episode about our place airs on TV, so that whenever anyone talks about how great our garden is she can tell them that she’s getting one too”
“That won’t work” said Rose. “Mamadou’s doing Penny and Gina’s place next and our place is episode number 6 in Zikpi’s so when it airs in another 5 weeks Mamadou will still be working on Gina and Penny’s garden”
“Does India know that?” asked Syafika.
“Probably” said Rose. “She and Penny have afternoon tea together sometimes”.
Syafika thought for a while and then realized something. “Well if it isn’t the garden then India will be asking Dad to do a greywater system or something” said Syafika. “She can’t let an opportunity like this go.”
Rose smiled because it amused her to know what Syafika had been thinking about, then Rose smiled again when she imagined how annoyed Festus would be if India insisted he do some work for her. Then Rose got up and went to do some gardening. She was going to make India a portable herb garden in a basket as a birthday present.
After breakfast Syafika got a book and went back to the garden. This time she sat down near the pond. Before she opened the book she had a look for frogs because Ousman claimed he’d heard some croaking coming from the pond during the night. Syafika didn’t see any frogs but she did see a blue dragon fly.
Syafika had been in the garden long enough to have read a few chapters of her book when she saw Ousman come out into the garden carrying a cup of tea. He knocked on the door of Mamadou’s shed and waited. Mamadou came outside and squinted in the sunshine. Syafika realized that Mamadou mustn’t have had any breakfast yet. She knew he’d been working on a garden design for Penny and Gina and hoped he would either finish before India’s party started or take a break from his work so he could go to the party. Syafika knew that Ousman was looking forward to going to the party because he’d been talking excitedly about how India was hiring a chocolate fountain.
“Thankyou” said Mamadou to Ousman. “Come in and look at my drawings of Penny and Gina’s garden”
Syafika tried to get back into reading her book but she couldn’t concentrate because she was so curious about what Mamadou and Ousman were talking about inside the garden shed. Then Syafika realized that it was an opportunity for her to improve her spying skills, so she put down her book and crept over to the shed. Then she put her ear to the shed and listened.
“How will that work?” said Ousman.
“I will use the water pressure in the pipe to push the water through this coil of black pipe and then this tap will control the flow to the outdoor shower” said Mamadou.
“Did Penny really ask for an outdoor shower?” asked Ousman.
“It will have a modesty screen all the way around” said Mamadou. So it is perhaps not strictly outdoors, but more without a roof. Penny said that she wants the garden to be full of cheekiness and laughter”
“Where does the used shower water go?” asked Ousman.
“See here” said Mamadou. Syafika imagined he was pointing to his drawing. “This is where it gets funneled into a pipe that goes to water the garden”
Syafika jumped when she heard the back door open and quickly moved her ear away from the shed. Then she dashed over to get her book and was walking inside when she saw Binta coming outside. Aminata was sitting on Binta’s forearm.
“Have you seen Ousman?” Binta asked Syafika.
“He is in the shed” said Syafika.
Aminata flew off and landed on the roof of the shed. Her claws made an awful scratching sound on the roof so Syafika hurried inside, and on the way she noticed that Rose was in the greenhouse.
Syafika was getting changed to go to India’s party when she heard music start playing. Syafika put her head out of her window to try to determine where the music was coming from and wasn’t very surprised when she realized it was coming from the direction of India’s house.
Syafika put on her shoes and waited at the bottom of the stairs for her mum and dad to come down. Ousman and Binta came down first. Aminata was sitting on Ousman’s shoulder.
“Is Aminata invited to the party too?” asked Syafika.
“India put her name on the invitation” said Ousman.
Syafika looked at Binta for confirmation.
“India thinks Aminata is a good conversation starter” said Binta.
Syafika wondered what Aminata thought of India.
Festus, Rose and Mamadou were soon ready to leave and as everyone was walking out the gate they met Penny.
“Isn’t Gina coming to the party?” Rose asked Penny.
“She is, but she hasn’t finished making sweet potato chips. She promised India she’d bring some, but they take so long to make. I hope she gets to the party before it ends” said Penny, and then she gave a little laugh, as if she was trying to make sure that everyone knew she was half joking about how long Gina would take to make the chips.”
Penny couldn’t help noticing the basket Rose was carrying on her arm. She’d planted thyme, oregano and rosemary in it.
“India is going to love that!” commented Penny.
India’s house was five houses down, on the other side of the street. As everyone crossed the road Syafika noticed that there were cars parked along most of both sides of the street that day, and it made the street so narrow that there was only room for one lane of traffic.
There was a sign on the front door of India’s house instructing guests to take the path down the side of the house to the backyard.
Just as Ousman started walking down the side of the house Aminata changed her mind about going to the party and flew off in the direction of home.
“Do you think she will be ok?” asked Ousman
“I’ll just check she has gone home” said Binta. “You go and enjoy yourselves”
As Ousman watched his mum walk off towards home he looked like he wanted to follow her, but then he noticed everyone else was heading towards the backyard and he felt compelled to follow them instead.
India had positioned herself close to the entrance to the backyard so she could welcome everyone as they arrived. Syafika felt a bit intimidated when she saw how many guests were there, and realized that the extra cars parked in the street were probably all owned by people at India’s party.
As Penny predicted, India was delighted by the herb basket. “Thank you! So beautiful! So clever! So useful!” said India and she put the basket on her arm. As Rose watched India’s response she realised how much she appreciated a person who was able to be genuinely thrilled by being given a present. Rose realised that it was not really about what was being given (although the right present would make it easier!) but about being touched that a person had thought about you and wanted to make you feel happy.
India insisted everyone get themselves something to eat and drink and gestured towards one side of the yard where, presumably, tables of food and drink were what a crowd of people had huddled around. When Ousman asked Syafika to help him find the chocolate fountain she realized that the thought of a chocolate fountain excited her just as much as Ousman so they took off together, weaving their way through the crowd of guests.
When Syafika and Ousman saw people carrying skewers with chocolate coated strawberries on the ends of them they new they were close to the chocolate fountain and it was finally revealed when a couple of large men moved off in the direction of drinks table. The fountain had three tiers, with the size decreasing as they went up. The melted chocolate overflowed from the top layer and ran into the second, then over the edge of the second layer into the bottom layer, where it must have been pumped back up to the top again. A couple of small children were hanging around the fountain and both had chocolate smeared on their faces and clothes. Syafika noticed that Ousman seemed pretty grown-up in comparison. Ousman smiled as he skewered a strawberry and then let the waterfall of melted chocolate stream over the strawberry. He enjoyed the process so much that he gave his strawberry to Syafika so he could do another one for himself. Syafika was about to protest that she’d like to do her own, but changed her mind when she looked at Ousman’s expression because it reminded her of herself when she was a child.
Syafika and Ousman were enjoying their chocolate coated strawberries when Rose came over. Rose looked worried and insisted that Syafika and Ousman come with her immediately. They were soon rushing down the street in the direction of home and Syafika didn’t know what was going on but could see Festus and Mamadou infront of them, and Penny infront of them.
A car sped down the street and Syafika wondered whether it was rushing for the same reason that they were, but it wasn’t. Up ahead Penny was so distracted that she didn’t notice the car and it hit her as she crossed the street. Syafika sprinted towards the accident, hoping that Ousman hadn’t seen it. Festus stood in the middle of the road and put his hands up to stop traffic. The driver of the car got out and vomited in the gutter.
Syafika knelt down beside Penny and saw that she was breathing but she was bleeding from her forehead and arm. Suddenly Rose was there next to Syafika. She took Penny’s hand and told Syafika to call an ambulance and make sure the firebrigade was on its way. Syafika stood up and saw Binta rushing towards her while talking on their cordless phone. Binta had already called 000 and was coming over to pass instructions on to Rose. Syafika was wondering why Rose had mentioned the firebrigade, but then she glanced towards Penny’s house and noticed a large plume of black smoke rising from the back of it.
Syafika stood up as tall as she could and watched the smoke. She guessed it was coming from the kitchen. Penny and Gina’s house was really half a house. When Rose and Festus chose their house they thought they’d enjoy living next to the grand house on the corner block, and for many years they did. But then a couple of years ago the corner house had sold to a developer who decided the quickest way to make some money from it was to divide it into two smaller homes and build a fence down the middle of the yard. Penny and Gina’s half of the yard contained much less than half the house – their section was single story but the part of the house on the corner had two stories and a lovely upstairs verandah.
Syafika looked around for Gina but couldn’t see her and was worried. She ran and knocked on the door of Penny and Gina’s house and yelled out to Gina but there was no response. Then Syafika realised she could access Gina’s backyard from their backyard so she ran home and was just opening the front door when she heard a loud smashing sound. Syafika turned and saw that there had been another accident in the street – a car had turned into the street and crashed into the back of the queue of cars that were stuck because the road was still blocked by the car that had hit Penny.
By now a crowd had started to gather so Syafika assumed someone else would check on the people who’d just been in a car crash and she ran through the house and out into the backyard to see if she could find Gina.
“Gina! Gina!” yelled Syafika.
“She’s here” replied Mamadou.
Gina was sitting on the grass in her backyard and Mamadou was hosing her down. Syafika could see a large burn on Gina’s leg.
“I was going to try to put out the fire and then I found Gina needed the water more” said Mamadou.
“Good” said Syafika. “Keep doing that until the ambulance arrives”
Syafika ran back to the front of the house and announced to Rose and Binta that Gina was in her backyard and that she had a bad burn and probably needed to go in the ambulance too. Syafika noticed that Festus was telling cars who’d come down the street from the direction of India’s house to reverse back-up the street and go another way. Then Syafika saw Ousman standing nearby looking terrified so she led him inside tried to get him to sit down, but Ousman didn’t want to sit down.
“There’s a fire that needs putting out” said Ousman and he ran out to the backyard. Syafika followed and they found another hose and started spraying water at the flames that were coming out of Gina’s kitchen window.
Syafika thought she could hear sirens in the distance and it comforted her to think that help was on its way.
A few minutes later two paramedics came into the backyard and assessed Gina. Then they took her to an ambulance on a stretcher. Syafika left Mamadou and Ousman to fight the fire and followed Gina’s stretcher. There were two ambulances and they’d been forced to park a little way down the street because there was still some traffic blocking their way. Festus looked very frustrated.
Fortunately nobody had been seriously injured in the second car accident but the drivers were having trouble manoeuvring their cars out of the way. Some quick-thinking neighbours had used outdoor furniture to barricade off the end of the street so no more cars would try to turn into it.
Syafika wondered where the fire engine was. She couldn’t hear one coming.
“Is the firebrigade on the way?” Syafika asked Binta.
“Yes” said Binta. “I checked and they are but they keep getting stuck in traffic”
Syafika looked up at Penny and Gina’s house and could see flames coming from the roof. She realized that the house would probably be ruined. The people who lived on the other side of Gina and Penny had come out of their house and were very distressed because they knew that their side of the house would probably also be damaged by the fire.
It was a relief when the ambulances turned on their sirens and drove off, but now Syafika was starting to worry that the fire was going to destroy two houses and possibly spread further.
“I’m going to the backyard to help Mamadou and Ousman with the hosing” Syafika told Binta.
Binta didn’t like the idea of Ousman firefighting and so she followed Syafika to the backyard and insisted that Ousman let Syafika take his hose.
“Is Penny going to be ok” Ousman asked Binta.
“I hope so” said Binta. “I think Rose and India are going to the hospital to comfort Penny and Gina”
Binta and Ousman watched as Rose and India walked up the street and got into India’s car. Festus was watching too.
Then Ousman heard a siren, so he ran up the street to tell India to stay where she was until the fire engine had made it into the street.
When Ousman saw a police car coming down the street he was very disappointed, until he realised that there was a fire engine behind it.