Tag Archives: Syafika

The Inklings: Chapter 83

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

Syafika was just about to leave work when her phone rang. It was Rose.

“I know you usually go to Fanta’s place for dinner on Mondays but could you please come home for dinner tonight? We want to have a nice dinner together and then talk about what is going to happen when Zikpi comes to film tomorrow” asked Rose.

Syafika couldn’t help groaning. She wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Zikpi had insisted Syafika be there for the final filming and Syafika was cross about that because it meant she had to take a day off work. Also, Syafika had been looking forward to seeing Fanta that evening because she wanted to talk about what had happened at lunchtime. Syafika had once imagined that she and Fanta would be able to have lots of nice chats at work, but it had turned out that opportunities for that were rare because work kept them both so busy. They couldn’t even walk home together because Fanta usually had to leave work early to pick up her sisters.

Syafika paused while she made a quick plan in her head. “Ok. I will come home for dinner but I am going to pass by Fanta’s house on the way home. I will be about an hour and 15 minutes” said Syafika.

After Syafika hung up the phone she ran downstairs to get changed into her running clothes. She had calculated that if she ran to Fanta’s place she’d have enough time for a decent chat about Anthony before she had to leave to run home for dinner.

When Syafika arrived at Fanta’s house she was puffed but happy. She’d managed to get there as fast as she’d hoped. Syafika took some deep breaths while she waited for Fanta to answer the door.

“I’m glad you are a bit early” said Fanta when she opened the door. “D’arby is cooking and wants an early dinner because he has to start his new job tomorrow”

Syafika had to try to control her expression because she felt like scowling. She hadn’t run all the way there to talk about D’arby.

“I can’t stay for dinner – Mum wants me at home to plan for tomorrow. I just ran here so we could have a quick chat about what happened at lunchtime” said Syafika.

“Ahh, ok” said Fanta and she came outside and closed the front door so she and Syafika could talk in the relative privacy of the front yard.

“You did see Anthony, didn’t you?” asked Syafika.

“Yeah, I guessed that was him. Who else would you bother chasing?” said Fanta.

“What did you think?” asked Syafika.

“I thought you were an amazing runner” said Fanta.”But didn’t he notice you were chasing him? I think I would notice if someone was running so close behind me”

Syafika felt a bit embarrassed. She answered “I don’t know…” but really she did know. She’d just realized that Anthony had known she was chasing him, and must have also noticed the last time she did it.

“Celine seemed to notice too” said Fanta. “When you went to get changed she kept asking me questions about you and about whether you knew someone called ‘Lawrence’”.

“Ah ha! So Anthony must have been pretending to be Lawrence when he met Celine in the café that time” said Syafika.

When Syafika started jogging home from Fanta’s house she was feeling a bit embarrassed that Anthony had noticed her running after him, but it was also thrilling to think that they were both playing a secret game. Syafika had a chuckle and ran a bit faster.

When Syafika crossed the road in front of her house a car came roaring along the street and beeped the horn as it almost hit her. This made Syafika really cross. Her street used to be quiet but recently there had been a lot more traffic. Syafika made a mental note to be more careful crossing the road there in future, and to make herself feel happy again she ran up the garden path and bounced up the front steps.

The house was looking very tidy and Syafika initially wondered why, but then remembered it was all for Zikpi. Syafika had so far avoided being filmed for Zikpi’s documentary but she knew she couldn’t escape it tomorrow. As Syafika changed out of her sweaty running clothes she had a little daydream about Anthony turning on the TV and seeing her strolling happily in her beautiful back garden.

When everyone had finished eating dinner Rose explained the timetable for the next day. It sounded like it was going to be a long one. Zikpi and the film crew would arrive at sunrise and they would stay as long as it took to get good footage and interview everyone.

“They won’t interview me though, will they? I’ve had nothing to do with it” said Binta.

“I don’t know” answered Rose.

“You can hide in my room if you like” offered Syafika.

Binta looked like she was going to say thank you but the phone rang and she was sitting closest so she got up to answer it instead.

It was India on the phone. She’d called to tell them that the first episode of Zikpi’s show was about to be broadcast and that they should turn the TV on.

So everyone moved to the loungeroom and sat down while Ousman found the right channel.

At first it was enjoyable to watch Zikpi’s show. The episode was about a couple renovating an old house that was in such bad shape that it could apparently collapse at any moment. Everything was respectable at the start but then it started to feature more of the couple arguing than of the work they were doing to stabilize the walls.

“You two didn’t argue infront of the cameras, did you?” Syafika asked Festus and Rose.

Rose assured Syafika that they hadn’t but realized that the footage of her crying would probably make an appearance.

Syafika looked at Mamadou. He looked appalled.

“I don’t like Zikpi anymore” said Mamadou. There was silent agreement from everyone else in the room.

The rest of the program was predictable. The couple managed to save the house and at the end of the program they looked reasonably happy together.

Syafika looked at Mamadou again to see if she could tell what he was thinking. When she saw Mamadou’s devious smile she started looking forward to what might happen during filming tomorrow.

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The Inklings: Chapter 82

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

Syafika, Celine and Fanta were all heading to the Botanic Gardens for lunch, but only Syafika was wearing running clothes. Celine and Fanta were coming with her, but instead of running they were going to have a nice lunch at the café, then walk back with Syafika.

As Syafika started jogging away from Syafika and Celine she hoped that this time she’d see Anthony. It had been months since she’d seen or heard from Anthony and she was beginning to doubt she would ever see him again. But Syafika knew that her regular running trips had not been wasted. Instead of getting puffed after a couple of hundred metres, Syafika could now jog around the gardens for the whole of lunchtime if she wanted to, and she noticed that she was able to run much faster. Syafika thought it was sort of funny that since she’d become determined to spy on Anthony she’d only caught sight of him once, but she also considered her running scheme to be a kind of spy training and it comforted her to know that if she finally did come across Anthony she would be better prepared than ever to follow him on his run.

Syafika sprinted up a slope to see if she could make it to the top. When Syafika made it to the top of the slope she turned around and ran back down again, enjoying how effortlessly she could run downhill and how running made her feel graceful. Syafika remembered the first time she’d run down that slope a couple of months ago and how silly she’d felt. It made Syafika smile. She was really happy when she was running.

Syafika jogged towards the shadiest part of the gardens where there were lots of windy paths to follow. As she turned a corner she caught a glimpse of a runner disappearing around the next corner. Syafika had chased runners around corners many times in the last couple of months only to find they weren’t Anthony, but this time Syafika knew it was him.  She sped up and was able to get close enough to be sure it was Anthony. Anthony turned his head enough for Syafika to worry he might have spotted her, but he showed no sign of having noticed her and so she continued her persuit.

When Anthony took the path that led to Government House Syafika guessed that he must be at the end of his run and she slowed down because she anticipated that he would soon stop to stretch, but he didn’t. Instead Anthony turned down a side path that headed back towards the café. Syafika sped up and was almost close enough to reach out and touch Anthony by the time they were at the café. Then Syafika saw Fanta and Celine sitting at an outside table and she remembered she was supposed to meet up with them to walk back to work together. Syafika stopped running immediately and looked at her watch. It was time to stop running. Syafika watched as Anthony disappeared around a corner, and then she walked over to Celine and Fanta.

“You run fast!” said Fanta. Fanta was amazed. She’d never imagined that Syafika would run so well. Fanta desperately wanted to confirm that the man Syafika had been chasing was Anthony, but because Celine was with them she couldn’t ask.

Celine was feeling confused.  She’d seen Anthony run past too, only she knew him as Lawrence. Celine wondered what Lawrence was up to and hoped he hadn’t been spying on her. Celine also thought it was suspicious that Syafika was running so close behind him.


The Inklings: Chapter 78

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

When Syafika went back to her old office to meet Leah she noticed that everyone else was back at work but her old desk was still empty. Helen and Julie came over and asked her how her new job was and soon everyone was milling around her, but Syafika wasn’t sure how much anyone knew. Nobody showed her any sympathy so she wasn’t sure if they had just decided not to mention her having had to leave in disgrace or if they had been told she’d decided to leave instead of being forced to. Syafika thought Helen and Julie might be a bit cross with her, but wasn’t sure. She hadn’t been close to Helen or Julie since they abandoned her in the pub.

Leah came out of her special office in the corner and suggested to Syafika that they go out to a café for coffee.

“What happened?” asked Leah as soon as she and Syafika had settled down at café table.

Syafika wished she’d been given a narrower question to answer. She didn’t know whether Leah wanted to know the sequence of events or whether she wanted to know why Syafika had stuffed up. Syafika decided to give her the sequence of events – she didn’t understand how she’d stuffed up anyway.

So Syafika told Leah about the phonecall she’d received and the email she’d sent in response. And then about how Glenda had come for her a couple of days later but Christine had rescued her and had told her that Joe had made some kind of mistake and blamed her for it.

“Joe was meant to be looking after you while I was away” said Leah, in an exasperated voice. “I’m sorry” said Leah.

Syafika hadn’t been expecting this. She started to cry.

Leah gave Syafika some tissues and patted her on the shoulder. When Syafika had calmed down Leah asked her how her new job was going and told her that if it had been up to her Syafika wouldn’t have had to move. Leah explained that she’d told Syafika’s team that Syafika had chosen to move and hoped that was ok.

When the coffee was all gone and it was time for Leah and Syafika to get back to work Leah handed Syafika her card saying “If you ever need my help please call me.”

 


The Inklings: Chapter 77

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

Anthony was more worried than angry as he ran away. He was under a lot of pressure at the moment and he knew that if he made any mistakes his life could be ruined.

When Anthony ran past the spot where Syafika had been hiding the day before he smiled as he remembered how Syafika had followed him on his run. Anthony had taken an extra long and convoluted route just to make sure Syafika really was following him. He had enjoyed being chased by Syafika but wasn’t sure if it was just another one of her games or if she really thought he hadn’t noticed her.

Anthony decided he’d probably need to call Syafika soon because she might be able to tell him things that Nelson wouldn’t. Thinking of Syafika made Anthony feel happy, and he smiled. When Anthony realized he was smiling it made him remember how dangerous it was for him to interact with Syafika.It wasn’t unusual for him to develop a fondness for people he had spent a lot of time watching, but with Syafika it was worse than usual. Anthony didn’t feel in control of his actions when he was near Syafika. He kept forgetting he was meant to be working. If he made a mistake and told her too much he would be in real danger, and so would she. And Anthony wasn’t sure how much Syafika knew. Sometimes she seemed clueless but other times he thought he could see in her eyes that she knew everything and was just pretending she didn’t.

 


The Inklings: Chapter 65

On Saturday morning Mamadou woke when the birds did. Then he had to wait hours until it was a suitable hour to disturb Rose – now that Zikpi had filmed the ‘before’shots Mamadou was allowed to start working on the garden. He filled in the time it took for the sun to rise above the roof of the neighbouring house by drinking tea and drawing pictures of a waterfall and plants.

Ousman and Binta weren’t going to come with Mamadou to help this time. They were busy doing mathematics. Mamadou was happy that Ousman was so clever and that Binta worked so hard to help him, but he also felt uneasy. How was he going to fit into their lives?

When Mamadou arrived at Rose’s house she and Festus were busy discussing the house plans. When Mamadou remarked that Rose looked much happier than she had the day before Rose explained that it was due to the magic of having a nice long sleep and waking up to find the house sparkling clean and tidy. Festus was struggling to move around the house on crutches, but he also seemed much happier.

Rose took Mamadou out to the garden shed to show him the tools. Festus followed slowly and carefully.

When Rose opened the door of the garden shed Mamadou was amazed to find that it was larger and better equipped than some of the houses he’d lived in. There was a window, a sink and power points, a small fridge and an assortment of garden machinery and tools, bottles of fuel and oil, bags of different kinds of manure and potting mix. There was even a small table and chair.

“Wow! It’s good enough to live in – can I?” said Mamadou. Rose and Festus laughed but Mamadou had only half been joking. He could see where you could hang a hammock from the ceiling and thought it would be great to be able to spend all night and day in the garden.

“Now is there anything else you need? We should go to the garden centre to buy some plants” said Rose.

Mamadou definitely didn’t want to spend the rest of the morning at a garden centre. He wanted to get stuck in.

“I don’t need plants yet. I need to do some digging and shaping of the ground first” said Mamadou. He unrolled the garden plan and showed Rose where the stream that took water from the house to the pond was going to go. He also showed her the water feature in the middle of the pond.

Rose and Festus looked at the plan and then at the garden and then back at the plan again.

“You will need tonnes of rocks for the water feature, won’t you? I can organize a delivery. They can put them on pallets and unload them from the truck using a forklift” said Rose.

“You’ll also need to hire an excavator to dig the pond and to knock down that wall” said Festus and he pointed at the heavy wall made of sandstone and bricks with a doorway that lead from the manicured part of the garden near the house from the wilder part at the back of the yard.

Mamadou felt alarmed. He didn’t want all those machines.

“Not necessary” said Mamadou. “I’ll use a shovel and big hammer and I’ll reuse the bricks and stones from the wall to build the waterfall in the middle of the pond”

Rose and Festus looked at each other. They thought Mamadou was being silly but didn’t know how to say that nicely so they accepted a temporary defeat and anticipated that Mamadou would change his mind once he started working.

“Well what can we do to help?” asked Rose.

“Go inside” said Mamadou. He was trying not to sound rude but he really just wanted them to leave him alone to work.

The conference officially ended after lunch on Saturday but Syafika left at morning tea time. She was anxious to get home to see how her Mum and Dad were going. When she arrived at home she was relieved to hear laughing from inside the house. Rose and Festus were trying to make a nice lunch because they thought it was important that Mamadou had something nice to eat after all the digging he’d been doing, but then Rose had burnt the curry and Festus had dropped the salad on the floor.

“What would Binta think?” Rose had asked Festus. And that’s why they were laughing.

Syafika was happy that her parents seemed happy, and now that she had one less thing to worry about she remembered that she was supposed to call Anthony. So after greeting her parents she took her bags to her room and picked up the phone. She realized that she was breathing too fast and took some long slow breaths to try to calm down. Then she carefully dialed Anthony’s number. It rang, and rang and rang. Nobody answered and there was no option to leave a message. Syafika was disappointed but then realized that perhaps Anthony hadn’t been expecting her to call that early. She decided to try again after lunch and went to the kitchen to see if she could help her parents rescue some of the food.


The Inklings: Chapter 63

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

There was only 30 minutes between the end of the talks for the day and the start of the conference dinner so Syafika rushed back to her room. She wanted to have a bath, or at least a shower, before the dinner and make sure she looked her best. When Syafika opened the door to her room she saw a folded piece of paper on the floor – someone had slid a note under the door. As soon as she saw the handwriting on the note she knew it was from Anthony.

“Have to go home early so no drinks tonight. Sorry. Call me when you get home.

A”

Underneath the writing was a phone number.

Syafika was disappointed but also a bit relieved. She carefully copied Anthony’s phone number into her address book before folding the note up and putting it in her wallet. Then she went and had a bath and worried about having to call Anthony when she got home. Thinking of home made her remember about Zikpi. She quickly finished her bath so she could call Rose before dinner.

Binta answered the phone and told Syafika that Rose had gone to have a sleep because she’d been exhausted by the day. Then Binta had to get back to cooking so she put Ousman on the phone.

“Syaf! Your house looks so beautiful today. There are bunches of flowers in every room and the floor boards are shining” said Ousman

“What did Zikpi think?” asked Syafika

“Zikpi kept saying how interesting everything was and how hard it was going to be to finish on time and under budget. She made your Mum cry a bit”

Syafika felt sad when she heard that and almost started to cry herself. How dare stupid Zikpi barge in and make Rose cry! And how awful of India for making it all happen in the first place. But Syafika didn’t have time to say those things. It was time for her to go to the conference dinner. She asked Ousman to let Rose know she’d called and that she’d be home tomorrow afternoon, then said goodbye and walked to the conference hall.

The hall had been set up nicely for dinner. There were long rows of tables set with white table cloths, cutlery, plates and sparkling glasses. There were candles burning and the overhead lights had been turned down low. Syafika was happy with the lighting. She knew that candle-light was flattering. Then she remembered that Anthony wasn’t going to be there and felt disappointed. All she could hope was that there was something nice to eat and that she didn’t have to sit next to someone annoying.


The Inklings: Chapter 61

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

Syafika slept well on Thursday night but had to get up earlier than usual so she could catch the 7am train to the Central Coast. She had to get a taxi from the train station to the conference venue and arrived at 8:30am – just in time for registration.

Syafika collected her badge and room key from reception then took her suitcase to her room. Syafika was pleased to find that the room had a bath, and that there was a good view of the beach from the balcony. She wished she was there for a holiday instead of a conference. Still, she was hopeful that she’d learn a lot at this conference and be able to feel more confident about what she was supposed to be doing at work.

Syafika was walking back to the foyer when the door of a room she was passing opened and Anthony came out. He smiled when he saw Syafika but then looked a bit scared. Syafika looked down at his name tag and noticed that it said “Lawrence Tucker”. Anthony must have noticed because he quickly explained that he was attending in the place of a colleague who wasn’t going to be able to arrive until tomorrow and that it had been easier to just take Lawrence’s name tag than to explain to the people at reception what was really going on.

“Lucky your colleague isn’t female then” said Syafika, imagining Anthony having to wear a dress. Anthony seemed relieved and smiled. Then a bell rang and over the intercom a voice called all conference attendees to take their seats in the hall. As Syafika and Anthony walked to the hall, Anthony asked Syafika if she’d like to go for a drink after the conference dinner. Syafika agreed, even though the thought of it terrified her.

Nelson was already sitting down in the hall when Syafika and Anthony walked in. Syafika thought she better take the seat next to Nelson. Anthony went and sat on the other side of the room.

The first couple of talks of the morning bored Syafika, despite her best efforts at concentrating. There was just too much jargon for her to be able to understand what the speakers were going on about. She began to wonder whether she had wasted her time by coming. Syafika looked through the conference program for any mention of Anthony before remembering that he was attending in place of Lawrence Tucker but Lawrence Tucker wasn’t presenting any talks either. Syafika looked at Anthony and saw that he was busy taking notes. Then she realized that she should probably be taking notes too, but she didn’t want to disturb people by rummaging through her bag to find a pen and so she sat there awkwardly until the end of the talk.

The third speaker was much more interesting to Syafika because she used some of the words that Syafika had been hearing in work meetings. Syafika was glad she’d been able to get out a pen in time. The speaker was explaining how criteria could be used to decide whether a project should go ahead or not. Syafika was interested because she’d always been confused about how the executives at work decided which projects would go ahead and which wouldn’t. From what the speaker was saying, the decision could all be boiled down to the numbers in a table. Syafika wondered how many executive jobs those tables could replace and smiled.

Nelson was the next speaker and his presentation followed-on suitably from the previous one. He explained how the government was going to use this ‘decision making matrix’ to make decisions consistently and how they were going to do even more – that to make the modelling behind the numbers consistent, all modelling used in decision making would be done by the same team – Christine’s team. Finally, Nelson explained how they were going to modify the criteria by multiplying them by an additional matrix of factors to make sure only really worthy projects could proceed. Syafika thought this was a great idea, until question time. The lady who’d been the third speaker asked Nelson to clarify how the additional matrix of factors was going to be used and asked whether, if it was possible to use it to make the criteria tougher, wasn’t it also possible to use it to make the criteria weaker and if they realized that they were really creating a loophole that allowed the Minister to use discretion in determining decisions when the whole purpose of the criteria was to avoid that. Finally, she suggested that if they wanted a way to allow the Minister to make the criteria even tougher, they should add additional criteria instead.

Nelson explained that the approach he had presented was only a suggestion, that they would be taking comments on board and that of course they only wanted to make the process stronger and more consistent and less open to political manipulation but that at the same time they needed to leave room for Ministerial input for the times when issues arose that the matrix hadn’t been able to forsee. He called it ‘future-proofing’.

Syafika thought again about what Nelson had told her about Christine on Tuesday and wondered whether all government decision making power had just been handed over to her new team. She thought it was a dangerous thing to let the same team that was in charge of the decision making matrix also be in charge of all government modelling.

Many hands in the audience were still raised when it was time to stop asking Nelson questions and have morning tea.

Syafika stood up and looked around to see where Anthony was, but she couldn’t see him. She wanted to tell Nelson how much she’d enjoyed his talk, but he was surrounded by people who still had questions. Everyone wanted to know more about how government was going to be using and modifying their decision making criteria – some because they wanted to know the implications for good decision making and others because they wanted to know how to get their developments approved.

Syafika went and made herself a cup of tea but when she took a sip all she could smell was coffee. Then she noticed that Anthony was at her side, holding a cup of coffee.

“Did you enjoy the talks?” asked Anthony.

Syafika told him how the first two had been beyond her comprehension but that she’d enjoyed the next two.

“I saw you with Nelson at the café the other day” said Anthony. “Are you working with him now, or friends?”

“I moved to the same team” said Syafika, choosing her words carefully. She wasn’t ready to explain how she’d had to move there because she was in disgrace.

Syafika didn’t pay much attention to the talks between morning tea and lunchtime. She was busy thinking about Anthony and what their after dinner drinks were going to be like. She started to feel nervous and almost wished she could go home.

By lunchtime Syafika was feeling really hungry. Plates of sandwiches were brought in and put on tables around the edge of the hall. Syafika wondered how many she could eat without looking greedy and she was just about to select her first sandwich when Anthony walked over and let out a disappointed sigh as he looked at the sandwiches.

“Sandwiches aren’t a real meal” said Anthony. “Let’s sneak off to the restaurant for lunch”.

Syafika didn’t really want to, but then she noticed Glenda selecting sandwiches from a nearby table and so she agreed.

As Anthony and Syafika walked upstairs to the restaurant Anthony said “Did you see Glenda? I’m glad to avoid her. Do you remember how I had to work with her before I left? She is very nosy and loves to gossip”

Syafika couldn’t help replying “I’m glad to avoid her too” which lead Anthony to ask why and before she knew it, Syafika was explaining what had happened to her at work that week. Anthony listened sympathetically, nodding a lot. He seemed interested to know all the details and so Syafika told him as much as she knew.

When Syafika finished her lunch she realized that she and Anthony had been talking for along time and looked at her watch. It was already time for the next lot of talks to start. The waiter must have known because when she came to clear the plates, instead of asking whether they would like any coffee or dessert she just asked whether everything was ok. Anthony smiled mischievously and said to Syafika “Let’s miss the first talk” and he asked the waiter for the dessert menu.

It was almost time for afternoon tea to start when Syafika and Anthony finally left the restaurant. As they walked back to the hall Anthony looked at the program and then said “I’m not really interested in the speakers this afternoon. I think I’ll go and have a siesta. I’ll see you later” and he walked off in the direction of his room.

Syafika wouldn’t have minded a siesta either, but was feeling guilty for already having missed three speakers so she walked quietly back to the conference hall. As she walked, she remembered that by now Zikpi would be at home filming the ‘before’ shots for the renovation program.

 


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