Tag Archives: Mamadou

The Inklings: Chapter 141

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

As Mamadou walked through the house he was shocked by the mess that the burglars had left and wondered whether they’d been more interested in causing pain than stealing. Not much was broken but hardly anything had been left in its place. Most things had been dumped onto the floor, even the contents of the cutlery drawer. The intrusion made Mamadou feel anxious and he realised he was scared that they hadn’t found what they were looking for and would come back.

Mamadou hurried out the back door and over to his shed. When he opened the door and found everything as he’d left it he let out a sigh and realised he’d been holding his breath. Mamadou would have loved to stay hiding in his shed but he knew he’d have to return to the house to help clean up. As he walked back inside he noticed Rose coming out of her greenhouse.

“Everything ok there?” asked Mamadou.

“Yes, I don’t know why I was so worried, but I guess I just love my plants” said Rose. “Did they mess up your shed?”

“No” replied Mamadou.

When they got inside Rose and Mamadou discovered that India was busy tidying up.

“I know this might sound insensitive, but I really want the street meeting to go ahead tonight. So let’s get your place all tidy and then return to my place to finish preparing” said India.

Mamadou smiled. He was glad that India could be so unemotional about the mess because it made him feel calmer and safer. He was also looking forward to the meeting that night. They were going to vote on a plan for the street and elect a committee to make it happen. Although Mamadou wouldn’t admit it, he was really hoping he would be selected for the committee.

“Will you help me tidy upstairs?” asked Binta.

“Ok” said Mamadou and he followed Binta upstairs. As they reached the first floor landing Mamadou looked upstairs towards Amanda’s room.

“Where was Amanda when the burglars came?” asked Mamadou. ”I thought she never left her room or the house”

“Rose said Amanda went to visit a friend today. Everyone says Amanda never leaves her room or the house, but it is an exaggeration because she does sometimes come out of her room and a couple of times a year she goes out” said Binta.

“How did the burglars know that today was one of the rare days Amanda wouldn’t be home?” asked Mamadou.

“That’s a very good question” said Binta. “I did see someone hanging around this morning, though. I think he was watching the upstairs windows with binoculars”

“Did you tell the Police that?” asked Mamadou.

“Of course” said Binta. “But maybe I should have said something to Rose this morning. Maybe she wouldn’t have gone to India’s if she knew someone was watching the house”

“Don’t worry – India would never have let her stay home anyway” said Mamadou.

Mamadou folded up Ousman’s clothes and put them away while Rose put her things away. Mamadou noticed that Binta’s computer was on the floor and that the screen was cracked. As Mamadou watched Binta squat down and gently run her finger over the crack he felt like crying. He hated to see Binta suffering.

The house was still not quite tidy when it was time to go back to India’s for the street meeting, but it was good enough for everyone to feel that they could take the rest of the evening off.

Mamadou followed Binta out the front door and noticed that a storm was approaching.  He tried not to think about clouds and instead concentrated on imagining how nice it would be to hear rain falling on the roof.

India had ordered pizza for dinner, and it was delivered just as the guests were arriving. Mamadou didn’t like pizza but was too excited about the meeting for it to bother him as much as it usually would. Instead he took two slices and as he stood eating them he watched the faces of the other people who’d come for the meeting. It was almost the same group of people who’d come on Thursday and they all seemed to be looking forward to voting.

“Come and sit with Penny and I” said Gina and she guided Mamadou by the elbow over to towards Penny.

Mamadou dutifully sat down next to Penny and Gina sat down on his other side.

“What do you think of tiny houses” asked Gina.

“The ones that are super quick to build” said Penny.

“It isn’t that we don’t like your designs but we don’t want to be imposing on India for too much longer and were thinking that maybe a tiny house would be a good interim solution – while you build the rest of the house and garden” said Gina.

“Ah, I see” said Mamadou. “Yes, I think that would work”.

Mamadou pictured his latest design with a sweet little caravan in the middle and realised it would actually improve the design.

“We like this one” said Gina and she showed Mamadou a brochure of a house on a trailer that had its own rainwater tank and solar power system.

“If we order it we can be out of India’s by May” said Penny. “Should we do that?”

“Yes, do that” said Mamadou.

“Great! Don’t stop working on your design though. We want you to start building as soon as possible” said Gina.

Mamadou looked at India and wondered whether she had any idea how much Gina and Penny wanted to get out of her house. He hoped she didn’t know because he suspected that India meant well and would be hurt if she knew that most people found her difficult to be around.

When the pizza was all gone India wheeled the whiteboard into the meeting room. Everyone sat down quietly and watched as India listed the alternative plans on the white board. Then she asked the people who’d come up with the ideas to each briefly explain their plan.

Victoria and Graham’s idea was first on the list. Graham sounded nervous as he explained that one solution was to sell their land and let the developers build flats and that Penny and Gina could buy a flat.

Mamadou couldn’t help smiling when Victoria added “We actually don’t want to vote for our idea anymore though. Should we remove it from the list?”

“No” said India. “Someone else might want to vote for it”

Next it was Mamadou’s turn to explain his idea. He realised he felt nervous and had to clear his throat a couple of times. He had to fight the instinct to rub India’s list off the whiteboard and start doing drawings as he explained his idea for closing the street to cars and creating parking spaces underneath a new house for Victoria and Graham. He even added a couple of new details that he’d thought of since Thursday.

Mamadou tried to be a good audience member for the last three people who explained ideas. He looked at them and nodded every now and then, but really he wasn’t listening at all because he was too busy worrying that he hadn’t explained his idea well enough.

“How would you like to vote?” asked India. “By a show of hands, or by a secret ballot?”

“Show of hands” suggested Victoria and a few other people responded in agreement.

“Anyone disagree?” asked India, but nobody said anything.

“Ok, let’s get started then” said India. “Please raise your hand if you want to vote for the first idea.

Mamadou was relieved when nobody raised a hand.

“No votes for plan number 1” declared India.“Please raise your hand to vote for the second idea”

Mamadou quickly put his hand up then looked around and saw most people join him.

“25 votes for plan number 2” declared India.

Mamadou put his hand down and tried to stop smiling but couldn’t.

India guided the meeting through voting for the remaining three ideas but everyone already knew that Mamadou’s plan had won.

After India declared Mamadou’s idea to be the winner it was time to elect a committee to make it happen.

“I nominate India” said Graham.

“I gratefully accept the nomination” replied India.

“I nominate Mamadou” said Syafika.

Mamadou was surprised that Syafika would nominate him because she had the feeling that he resented him being around.

“Do you accept?” asked India.

“Yes” said Mamadou.

It was harder to find three other people willing to be nominated but in the end Victoria, Gina and India’s next door neighbour Donald were nominated and because there weren’t more nomination that spots on the committee there was no need to vote. Mamadou could see the value in Gina and Victoria being on the committee but suspected that Donald had only accepted nomination so he could spend more time with India.

As everyone got up to leave Syafika gave Mamadou a high five and said “How did this happen? Good things like this never happen!”

“Nothing much has happened yet” said Festus.

“Yeah, but at least people want it to. I’m not used to that” said Syafika.

When Mamadou got outside he noticed that it had been raining and realised he’d forgotten to listen out for it. After saying good night he went to his shed and got out his designs for Penny and Gina’s place.

As Mamadou looked at his drawing he hoped he hadn’t become too ambitious. The new ‘house’ didn’t looke like a house at all. On the back left corner of the block Mamadou had created what looked like a Spanish patio garden. Mamadou had drawn high walls on the left and back of the block that looked like building facades. They had windows, alcoves, planter boxes and balconies on the first floor and on the ground floor there were verandahs with arched supports. Vines grew up the walls and there were potted gardens on the balconies.  On the right of the block was a small forest that merged with the trees around Rose’s frog pond. In the middle the man-made garden transitioned to wilderness via a small structure that looked like it was half waterfall, half ruined temple.

Mamadou sharpened a pencil and had just started drawing Penny and Gina’s tiny home near the front of the block when someone knocked on the door of the shed.

Ousman pushed the door open and came in carrying a tray with a cup of tea and a slice of watermelon on it.

Ousman put the tray down on the table and started looking at Mamadou’s drawing. Mamadou took a sip of his tea and waited for the questions to start.

“That’s a nice garden. What is is for?” asked Ousman.

“That’s Gina and Penny’s new house” said Mamadou.

Ousman looked at the drawing again and frowned.

“But where is the house?” asked Ousman. “Is that the thing you’ve just started drawing in the middle?”

“No, that’s a new addition – they’ve asked for a tiny home to live in while the real house is built” said Mamadou. “Can you see the house yet?”

Ousman looked at the drawing again and Mamadou could tell he was thinking hard. Then Ousman smiled.

“Is the house inside these walls? A long narrow house?” asked Ousman.

“Yes, that’s part of it” said Mamadou. “There’s also a section here of building that will look invisible because it will be made of reflective double glass that is angled so it reflects other parts of the garden and walls” said Mamadou and he pointed to what looked like the middle of the back wall.

“And finally this mound is the roof of another section of the building” said Mamadou and he pointed at the waterfall.

“It will look like someone has parked a small caravan in an abandoned garden!” said Ousman.

“Yes! The little caravan home will accidentally become the centre of the design” said Mamadou.

“Can you add one more thing?” asked Ousman.

“What?” asked Mamadou.

“What about a little gate keeper’s cottage at the front corner of the block? Someone could live there too. Maybe someone who didn’t have a place to live” said Ousman.

Mamadou usually disliked it when people suggested changes to whatever he was working on, but he liked Ousman’s idea and he knew Penny and Gina would like it too. Mamadou drew the cottage while Ousman watched.


The Inklings: Chapter 129

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

Mamadou watched from the front window as Binta walked over to India’s place. He was disappointed with himself for not raising his new plans with Binta over breakfast and frustrated that there seemed to be nothing he could do that didn’t require him having someone to help him.

As Mamadou washed the breakfast dishes he sang a song to himself. Singing made Mamadou feel happier and he decided it was a good day to take Aminata for a walk.

As Mamadou opened the front door he heard the sound of a door closing upstairs. Aminata, who was sitting on Mamadou’s shoulder, seemed to hear it too because she raised her crest and tilted her head.

Initially Mamadou was worried that someone had broken into the house, but then he remembered that Rose had another daughter called Amanda who lived upstairs but never left the house and rarely came downstairs. Mamadou wondered how Rose and Festus could be so calm about having such a strange daughter and couldn’t help thinking that they were probably too accommodating – he wondered how long Amanda would stay in her room if Rose stopped taking food up for her.

Mamadou sang softly as he walked along and Aminata seemed to be trying to sing with him because she made ‘clink-clink’ sounds at regular intervals. The sun was so hot that Mamadou wished he’d worn a hat. Instead of going back to get one he decided he’d decide which way to walk based on which streets had the most shade. It was a good plan and Mamadou had a lovely walk exploring shady lanes and leafy streets but on the way back he started to crave a cup of tea so much that he ventured down a busy, treeless street because he could see a café.

As Mamadou stepped inside the café he felt instant relief and was looking forward to sitting down and drinking tea when a waiter came over and said “I’m sorry but I have to ask you to leave”

“Why?” asked Mamadou, wondering what he’d done wrong.

“No animals allowed” said the waiter.

That’s when Mamadou realised that Aminata was on his shoulder.

Mamadou considered asking whether he could order a takeaway tea but he was the tone the waiter had used had made him too angry to want to stay any longer so Mamadou turned to Aminata, raised his eyebrows and walked out of the café.

Mamadou became thirstier and thirstier on the walk back home and began to look longingly at garden taps, but they were all protected by fences and closed gates. When they passed a house with a birdbath in the front yard Aminata flew over to use it. Mamadou watched from the footpath as Aminata had a lovely time splashing around in the water and wished that someone had put out a big dish of water for humans to play in.

When Aminata returned to Mamadou’s shoulder she was damp and Mamadou thought she felt a bit heavier. Mamadou realised that they were only a ten minute walk from home and decided not to think about drinking water or tea until he got home.

When Mamadou walked around the next corner he noticed a woman coming out of an impressive house a bit further down the street. She turned left and started walking in the same direction as Mamadou so he didn’t get a good look at her face but he was pretty sure it was Rose. Aminata must have been sure too because she took off and landed on a fence near Rose. Rose stopped and put out her hand for Aminata to climb on to then she turned around and noticed Mamadou approaching.

“Who were you visiting in that fancy house?” said Mamadou.

“I had to speak to our local member of parliament about some issues” said Rose.

Mamadou assumed Rose had been there to talk about the block of flats that someone wanted to build next door to their house and so he didn’t ask any more questions.


The Inklings: Chapter 116

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

Mamadou was using a toothpick to remove some meat that was stuck between his teeth. As he did this he watched Binta, Festus, India, Rose and Gina enjoying eating dinner in the backyard. The sun was getting low in the sky and Ousman and Aminata were sitting in a tree.

They’d installed the wheelchair ramps but still had to finish organizing the street meeting. Because Penny would be coming home tomorrow India wanted the meeting to feel festive – there was going to be lots of food and drink.

“Look at the marvelous clouds tonight” said India.

Mamadou looked up and saw that the clouds really were worth noticing. There was a lot happening in the sky that night. Big fluffy clouds, narrow streaky clouds, even zig zag clouds. The light from the sunset was pretty amazing too. Mamadou felt the urge to get out his paints and then he remembered all the cloud paintings he’d done last year. Thoughts of cloud paintings led to him remembering what had happened back at home in the village and a wave of anxiety hit Mamadou. He started to sweat and his breaths became short and fast. The contrast between the peaceful scene he was currently part of and his terrifying memories just made Mamadou feel worse. He felt like he couldn’t see the world how it really was anymore, and that anything that appeared nice was just a mirage.

Mamadou watched India, Rose and Binta making jokes but when he saw them laughing all he felt was dread. Mamadou imagined he could feel the future and the future wasn’t good. To see people having fun now just made him feel sadder about what he thought was going to happen.

When Mamadou looked up at Ousman in the tree he couldn’t keep tears from running down his face. Mamadou desperately wanted Ousman to have a good life but felt powerless to do anything to make sure it was. Mamadou quickly wiped the tears from his face and wondered whether it would be acceptable for him to go home

“I have a bad headache” said Mamadou.

“I’ll get you some tablets” said India.

“I think I just need to rest my eyes. Do you mind if I go home to bed?” said Mamadou.

As Mamadou walked home he realised that he wouldn’t necessarily feel better on his own. He tried to relax but couldn’t help thinking about Howa and Saidou. Mamadou wondered whether Howa’s baby getting enough nourishment and wished he could help. Then it struck him that he should be helping – that they might be hoping and expecting that he would send some kind of help. At the very least he should send some money, but really he should be using his safe and well-fed position to try to get them to a good place. By the time Mamadou got to his shed he’d come up with a plan. He knew it wouldn’t solve everything but it would make him feel less helpless for a while.


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 68

On Sunday afternoon Mamadou carefully cleaned the tools he’d been using and put them back in the giant garden shed. The back door of the house was open and he could hear Binta and Rose talking in the kitchen. They were discussing details of the renovation plans. It was hard work to get things happening in the right order.

Before Mamadou went inside he had a look at the garden. He had made good progress. The wall was gone and the pond had been dug. The stream was taking shape too. During the week Mamadou would have to help Rose and Festus with the house renovations but next weekend he’d be able to get back to the garden and he’d probably be able to finish the stream and waterfall. Then the fun would really start because he’d be able to start planting.

Mamadou made a mental note to remember to work out how the water pump for the waterfall would work, and then he went inside. He was feeling pretty tired by now and hoped Binta was ready to go home. Rose and Binta were sitting at the kitchen table and had just poured cups of tea from a large pot.

“Where’s Ousman?” asked Mamadou.

“He’s playing chess at Beth’s place” said Binta. “Sit down and have some tea”

Mamadou was too tired to think much about who Beth was. He wouldn’t have minded some tea but he was scared to sit down. He thought if he sat down he might not feel like getting up again. He needed to get home and have a shower before he fell asleep.

“I might walk home. I need to have a shower” said Mamadou. Then he realized he was really hungry too and so he added “I’ll make something for dinner”.

As Mamadou walked home he was thinking about freshly cooked rice with spicy tomato stew on top.

After a shower Mamadou felt re-energised and got to work in the kitchen. Half an hour later dinner was ready. He looked at the time. It was a little bit too early for dinner so Mamadou washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen benches. He was so hungry by then that he didn’t care if it was rude to eat before Binta and Ousman got home. He decided to take advantage of their absence by eating dinner in front of the TV and sat down on the sofa with the remote control in one hand and his dinner in the other.

The usual channel Binta watched had lawn bowls on so Mamadou changed the channel. The next channel he looked at had a movie that looked interesting so he started watching, but pretty soon there was an ad break. Mamadou watched incredulously as a special cleaning substance that cleans dishwasher drain pipes was advertised. He shook his head and wondered who would be stupid enough to think they need the inside of drain pipes to be sparkling clean.

Next was an ad for a machine that sanded rough skin off feet. Then an ad for a box you stick on the wall that automatically dispenses poison to kill insects, with special emphasis on how lethal the poison was.

Mamadou was disappointed by the stupidity of what he was watching. He thought of all the people in the world who longed for what he was enjoying right now – good health, good food, a comfortable home and time to relax. How disappointing to think that when the people who were lucky enough to have what most people wanted spent their time relaxing their brains were assaulted by claims that they needed to fix an unending series of imaginary problems before they could really be successful (and happy).

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


The Inklings: Chapter 57.

Wednesday was a blur for Mamadou. He spent most of it in his head, walking around imaginary gardens, although he was vaguely aware of Ousman and Binta coming and going, and he remembered drinking a very nice cup of tea.

As the sun was setting, Ousman watched his father as he walked back and forth on the footpath outside the house. Mamadou frowned as he worked out the last details of his design. Then mosquitos started biting him so he came inside and worked frantically until midnight – drawing a bird’s eye view of the garden and the doing several sketches of what it would look like to be in different parts of the garden.

Mamadou woke on Thursday morning with a sense of purpose. He had done his homework. The plans for Rose’s garden were ready. By 8:00 am he was ready to go and drop them off.

“Where are you going?” asked Binta when she saw Mamadou heading out the door.

“To give Rose these plans. She needs them today” answered Mamadou.

Mamadou noticed that Binta was ready to go somewhere also. She was wearing a brown suit and nice blue earrings.

Binta had assumed that Mamadou would be looking after Ousman while she was at work, and only just realized that they hadn’t discussed it. She wondered how she should best explain the situation.

“I have work today” said Binta. “I’d assumed you would be looking after Ousman. He doesn’t need much looking after really, but he isn’t used to waking to find nobody here. What if you wait until he wakes up and take him with you to see Rose? It is still a bit early to call on Rose anyway”.

Mamadou understood. He realized he had a lot to learn about how things worked around here. He wondered at what age children were left to fend for themselves.  Mamadou watched Binta walk off down the street, then closed the front door and sat down to wait for Ousman to wake up. At 8:15am Ousman quietly opened the door to Ousman’s bedroom and slowly walked in, watching his feet as he stepped and treading as lightly as possibly on the floor boards. Ousman was still sleeping soundly. Mamadou looked at Ousman’s face. He could see things that reminded him of himself and of Binta, but at the same time Ousman was completely different to them both. Mamadou hoped that he’d be able to let Ousman be his own person.

Mamadou was sitting at the table looking proudly at his garden plans when Ousman woke up. It was 8:30am. Ousman ate a banana for breakfast as he and his father walked to Rose’s place. They arrived just before 9am.

“I think we might be a bit early” said Ousman. “Did Aunty Rose say to come this early?”

“No, she just told me she needs to have the plans today so I thought earlier is better” said Mamadou.

“Let’s check whether she’s up and about yet before we knock on the door” suggested Ousman. He wasn’t sure when Rose got up in the morning but he imagined she wouldn’t be ready for visitors before 10am.

So Ousman crept up the front steps and peeped in through the crack between the curtain and the window frame. He could see two figures in the lounge room and from the shape and the way they moved he thought they must be Rose and Amanda. They seemed to be having an animated conversation and he could hear laughing. He took a step back, walked to the door and knocked. Ousman thought he heard someone rushing up the stairs. Then Rose opened the door.

It took Rose a couple of seconds to compose herself when she saw Ousman and Mamadou. When she noticed the roll of papers in Mamadou’s hand she realized what the visit was for.

“Come in!” said Rose enthusiastically, giving Ousman a hug.

Mamadou was feeling nervous. He hoped Rose would approve of his garden design.

Rose unrolled the drawings and gasped as she looked at them. After looking at each of them she laid them out on the table so Ousman could see.

“Magnificent!” said Rose, when she’d seen them all. Ousman looked at Mamadou proudly. Mamadou smiled, but was still feeling nervous.

Then Mamadou explained how the garden tied-in with the house. How the greywater would be cleaned as it trickled through the series of ponds and how it could then either be sent to the greenhouse or along a channel he liked to call ‘the river’, watering the fruit and nut trees, flowers, berries and veggies as it wound through the garden, all the way to the frog pond in the back corner.

Rose giggled and explained that if India was there she’d probably know some term that experts used to describe such a system. Rose gathered up the drawings and they all went out to the backyard to see how the design would fit with the topography of the yard. Luckily for Rose’s budget, the land sloped downwards to where Mamadou wanted to locate the frog pond and it looked like it would be possible to gravity feed the whole system. Mamadou wanted to get started straight away and asked Rose for a shovel. Rose laughed and told Mamadou that they couldn’t start anything until Zikpi had been to film the ‘before’ scenes.

Ousman, Mamadou and Rose spent the rest of the day alternating between caring for Festus and creating a project plan for the renovations and garden. Ousman liked the way they had to work out how each step of the various jobs would fit in with the rest. Mamadou liked the way that it looked like he was going to be very useful. Rose loved being able to be part of a team, and Festus liked the way that Rose’s plans were going ahead despite his broken leg. He looked forward to being able to help though – he was glad that, according to the project plan, his leg would be better before the project was over. He imagined that the last few scenes of Zikpi’s documentary would show him working really hard to get things finished on time.


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