Tag Archives: Syafika

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.

 


The Inklings: Chapter 56.

On Wednesday morning Syafika was just opening the door to leave for work when she heard Rose say “Oh no! Oh dear! Syafika!” so she went to find out what was wrong. She had the phone in her hand and was pressing buttons in a fluster.Syafika could hear the answering machine saying ‘You have no saved messages’.

“There was a message on the answering machine for you but I think I accidentally deleted it” said Rose.

“That’s probably ok” replied Syafika. “Just tell me what the message was or who called”

“A man… Anthony? The message was left last night. He asked whether you wanted to go somewhere for dinner and to call him. He said his phone number, but of course I can’t remember that!” explained Rose.

Syafika suddenly felt like crying. “I don’t have his number” she said. Syafika had a go at retrieving the message but it had definitely been deleted so she headed off for work, hoping that Anthony was going to be running in the Botanic Gardens at lunchtime.

When Syafika arrived at work she found a note stuck to her computer screen saying to call Glenda and her number. Syafika didn’t know Glenda but had heard about her and decided to have a cup of tea before calling her. As the tea was drawing Syafika turned her computer on and saw that she’d been copied in to a string of emails regarding the advice she’d given the Minister’s Office on Monday. She opened the first one and was just starting to read it when Glenda appeared.

“Why didn’t you call me?” Glenda demanded.

“I was just about to” answered Syafika. Glenda didn’t look like she believed her.

“The Minister is furious” said Glenda.

Syafika was frightened and wondered what she’d done wrong.

Glenda started explaining but Syafika didn’t understand what she was talking about. Glenda kept mentioning names and projects that only sounded vaguely familiar. Then Christine walked in and told Glenda that Joe needed to speak to her. Joe was the Executive Director that Glenda worked for.

“I’ll be back” said Glenda as she left.

Syafika looked at Christine. She remembered what Nelson had said about Christine and expected to be yelled at, but instead Christine was calm and friendly.

“Joe gets Glenda to be his attack dog” said Christine. “She doesn’t always know what she’s talking about. Neither does Joe. None of this is your fault but you have been blamed for it.”

Christine explained what had happened. Syafika’s advice had been fine but it wasn’t the information the Minister needed because she’d been asked the wrong questions. She’d been asked the wrong questions because Joe hadn’t bothered clarifying with one of the other Executive Directors before passing them on. And so the Minister had been made to look like a fool in a press conference, and someone had to be blamed.

“So you are going to have to leave this branch and come and work for me” concluded Christine. She told Syafika to pack up her stuff and come down to her office on level 2.

As Syafika packed her teapot, cups, diary and pot plant into an empty printer paper box she contemplated going home instead of down to level 2 but then Syafika remembered what had happened last night and that it was now her responsibility to earn money to support her family. As she walked down the stairs to level 2 she still wasn’t sure what was going on. If she had been she’d have been crying with rage.

Nelson was in Christine’s office when Syafika arrived. Christine was on the phone. Nelson led Syafika to her new desk and introduced her to the rest of the team. Then everyone went to the meeting room to discuss their current project. It was lunchtime when they emerged but Syafika wasn’t hungry. Her head was foggy though and her hands were shaking. She looked around and saw everyone else settling down to eat lunch at their desks and felt like she should copy them but didn’t want to. Fortunately Nelson gave her an opportunity to get out of the office by asking whether anyone could go and get him a coffee if they were going to buy lunch.

“I have to go and get something” said Syafika, wording the sentence carefully to only make it sound like she didn’t have her lunch because she had a generous packed lunch in her bag.

“Great”said Nelson and handed Syafika a coffee cup.

Syafika was just about to ask Nelson what kind of coffee he wanted when he changed his mind and decided to come too. Syafika tried to not show her disappointment. She’d been hoping to do a quick walk around the Botanic Gardens, but how could she do that if Nelson came too? Then she had a brilliant idea. Syafika picked up her cup and as she and Nelson walked out of the office Syafika told him that her favourite coffee place was the café in the Botanic Gardens.

“There are plenty of good coffee places closer than that. The coffee there must be good if you walk all that way” commented Nelson.

“Maybe it is the walk that makes the coffee taste so nice” answered Syafika, carefully. She’d never actually had a coffee from the café in the Botanic Gardens.

As Syafika and Nelson walked through the gardens Syafika looked around as much as she could without making it too noticeable. Nelson was telling her lots of things about the work she would be doing but Syafika wasn’t paying much attention. She was waiting for an opportunity to ask about Christine because Syafika hadn’t found her to be a bully at all and couldn’t believe she would be corrupt either.

As they waited for their coffee orders, Nelson finally stopped talking long enough for Syafika to speak.

“Christine doesn’t seem to be the way you told me she was” said Syafika

“Maybe she isn’t” answered Nelson. “I don’t think you know her well enough to judge yet. Also, sometimes people say things to see how you respond, not because they are necessarily true.” As Nelson said this he put his hand on Syafika’s shoulder. Syafika glanced over Nelson’s shoulder as she tried to think of a response and saw that Anthony was sitting at an outside table and looking at them. Syafika smiled at Anthony before being distracted by Nelson, who was handing her her coffee.

When Syafika turned to look at Anthony again he was gone.

……

When Syafika and Nelson got back to the office everyone had finished their lunch and had started another meeting and so Syafika’s packed lunch went un-eaten. She didn’t have time to feel hungry though. The afternoon flew by, as the time was eaten up by one meeting after another. Syafika took lots of notes as she tried to make sense of what was going on. After the last meeting Syafika walked home as fast as she could. She wanted to call Fanta. There was so much to talk about!

“Where have you been!” said Rose as Syafika walked in the front door at home.

Syafika was confused until she realized the time. She was two hours later than usual and hadn’t called to say she’d be late. Then Syafika saw that Fanta and her sisters were sitting at the kitchen table.

“I tried to call you at work lots of times” said Fanta “but you didn’t answer”.

“Sorry” replied Syafika. “I had to move offices” and she realized she hadn’t asked whether she’d be keeping her old phone number, nor had she sat at her new desk all day.

“We were worried” said Rose.

“Sorry” said Syafika. “I had such a big day that I forgot about all the normal things”

“I had a big day too” said Fanta. “When I went back to work today I discovered the shop was closed and I don’t know where Lenny is”.

“On holiday?” suggested Syafika. Syafika was impatient to tell her stories so wanted to hurry Fanta up.

“No, the police were looking for him too. He’s officially a missing person” said Fanta. “And without Lenny, I don’t have a job”

Syafika was interested now. “What are you going to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know” answered Fanta. “Look for a new job I suppose. But I don’t know when or if Lenny will turn up again. And I’m not going to be popular with other agencies because nobody likes Lenny.”

Syafika didn’t like the sound of this. She could see that Fanta might end up with a job that made her less available. This made Syafika feel depressed and she no longer had the energy to explain her day. Fortunately Ruby was tired and asked Fanta if they could go home. Fanta explained that they’d been there for two hours and had already had dinner. Syafika and Fanta organized to meet for dinner the following night. Then Fanta and her sisters walked home.

Syafika watched Rose tuck Festus into his temporary bed on the sofa. The stairs were too hard to climb while his leg was still so sore. Syafika decided not to bother her parents with her work troubles that night. She said ‘Goodnight’ and went to have a shower.

Rose watched Syafika go and then told Festus that Syafika hadn’t shown any interest in dinner and hoped she was ok.

“So do I” said Festus, because he was feeling so powerless that all he could do was hope.


The Inklings: Chapter 54

Tuesday at work was much quieter for Syafika. Nobody emailed her, and nobody called her. She could only assume that the Ministers Office had been happy with the information she’d supplied the night before. After the excitement of the day before, Syafika actually felt a bit bored. At lunchtime she decided to go for a walk in the nearby Botanic Gardens and enjoy not having to keep an eye on the time (if she was late nobody would be there to care and she’d already finished everything on her list of things to do that day).

Syafika wandered along the paths enjoying the smell of damp leaves and some strange fluffy white flowers. She was humming to herself and not paying attention to where she was going when around the corner came a runner and they collided. Syafika nearly lost her balance but he quickly put his arm out to support her. She looked up, not sure whether to be angry or apologetic and saw that it was Anthony. Instead of taking a step back to reclaim her personal space, Syafika stayed where she was and took a deep breath.

“You ok?” asked Anthony

“Yep” answered Syafika and tried to think of something else to say to keep the conversation going.

“I didn’t know you came here” said Anthony.

“I didn’t know you came here either” said Syafika

“Or you wouldn’t have come here?” suggested Anthony.

“No! I mean….” said Syafika. Then she was too embarrassed to say anything else.

“How’s Vincent?” asked Anthony.

“We broke up. I guess he’s fine” replied Syafika.

“Again?” asked Anthony.

“For the last time. We neither care for each other anymore” said Syafika.

Anthony smiled then said “I need to finish my run and get back to work. I’ll call you”. Then he ran off.

Syafika sat down on the first seat she could find. She felt shaky – she had that Anthony-induced feeling again. It was unsettling and made her feel a bit anxious but it was also delicious – warm and happy. Syafika remembered what it felt like in those seconds she was standing close to Anthony and didn’t want to move. She thought about following him to see where he went, but it was too late – she didn’t know which way he’d gone.

Instead Syafika went back to her desk and was engrossed in reading an article Fanta had emailed her when she realized that someone was standing behind her.

“Ah, so this is why you have to stay so late to finish your work” said the man from the lift. He introduced himself as Nelson and explained that he was hiding from his Executive Director Christine – the lady Syafika had seen him coming out of the lift with the night before.

“I can’t believe you are really hiding” said Syafika.

“I am” Nelson replied. “Christine is a bully”

Syafika was unsure what to do or say so she wheeled a chair to the empty desk next to her and said “Sit down if you like”

Nelson sat down and didn’t say anything. After a few minutes Syafika couldn’t stand the awkwardness anymore and started laughing nervously.

“Do you want some paper and pens so you can do a drawing?” she tried to joke.

Nelson looked Syafika in the eye while he took a breath.

“Can I tell you something?” asked Nelson.

“Ok” answered Syafika, sounding a bit worried.

“Sorry, but I need to tell someone. Christine is doing something really bad and I don’t understand why” said Nelson

“What is she doing?” asked Syafika.

“I think she is helping the Minister steal money” said Nelson.

“You should report it then” said Syafika.

“Yeah, that’s easier said than done” answered Nelson. “She’s had me organize the dodgy modelling and sign-off on all the paperwork so it looks like I’m the one who’s doing the wrong thing.

Syafika didn’t know what to say. She felt scared because she didn’t know whether it was Nelson or Christine who was the bad one and she wished Nelson hadn’t told her anything.

Luckily for Syafika, her phone rang and as she answered it Nelson got up and left.


The Inklings: Chapter 52

It was 10am on Monday and Syafika was at work, although hardly anyone else was – there was nobody at any of the other desks in her room that day. It was the time of year that people were encouraged to take their annual leave. Syafika had hardly eased her way back into the work routine when her phone rang. She put down her cup of tea and answered. It was an urgent request from the Minister’s office for statistics to be used in a press release and they needed them before tomorrow. Syafika hadn’t before been directly asked for anything like this but because the management people in her area were all still away on holiday she was the only one to call. She hadn’t expected anything like this to happen – at this time of year nothing usually happened. Syafika took careful notes about the request and tried to remain calm but as soon as she hung up the phone she felt sweat dripping down her back.

“What am I going to do?” said Syafika, but there was nobody else around to hear her. So she called Fanta.

“Stay calm” said Fanta. “Do you understand what the request is for?”

“Yes” said Syafika “But I don’t know if I can get an answer, let alone get one today”

“Spend a bit of time thinking it through” said Fanta “Up to an hour. Write down what you know and what you don’t know and possible ways to find the information you don’t have. Then if you don’t know what to do, call me back.”

Syaf worked hard all day – no lunch break. Fanta called her at 6pm to see when she would be leaving. John and D’arby were at Fanta’s place and were waiting for Syafika to come for dinner and their Monday meeting. Syafika was really upset that she couldn’t make it. She still had at least another hour’s worth of work to do before she could leave.

It was dark when Syafika finally sent off the email with the advice, after having read it through to Fanta on the phone. Fanta reported that the meeting with John and D’arby had been quiet without her and she hadn’t missed anything important.

Usually Syafika took the stairs but it was too scary when the building was mostly dark.  She took the lift and was surprised when it stopped at the floor below. A strange man got in the lift. He looked tired too. Syafika tried to smile at him but his unfriendly expression made her give up half-way.

When the lift stopped at the ground floor Syafika hurried to the exit, but when she got to the door she realized she didn’t have her swipe card in her hand. She was so tired that she couldn’t remember where it was. She started looking in her bag. The man from the lift didn’t seem to have his swipe card either. He patted his pockets and then started looking in his bag too.

Syafika was getting angry. Why couldn’t she just get out of the stupid building after such a long day!

The man shook his head. “What are the odds of both of us having lost our cards? I must have left mine on my desk” he said, and he walked back to the lift. Syafika realized that she might also have left her card on her desk, but didn’t want to go in the lift with the man again so she kept looking through her bag instead. She eventually found the card – she’d put it in the side pocket. Syafika felt she should wait in case the man couldn’t find his card. She imagined how awful it would be to be locked into the building overnight and wondered whether there was an emergency way out.

Syafika tapped her foot impatiently for five minutes before the lift arrived again. This time there was a woman in the lift with the man. Syafika recognized the woman – she was one of the Executive Directors. She seemed cross with the man – she hurried out in front of him, turning to say “I need it done by 10am tomorrow”.

When Syafika got home it was bedtime. She was so tired she didn’t have any dinner.


The Inklings: Chapter 47

To read the story from the beginning go here.

Although Vincent missed Syafika he thought that because she had disregarded his serious, well intentioned and wise advice on who she should avoid it would be bad for him if he were to see her again because she would inevitably disappoint him in the same way again at some point in the future. It upset Vincent that Syafika was hanging around with people who he didn’t want her to hang around with.

Vincent decided to put Syafika out of his mind and enjoy his break from work. When Vincent left the house he discovered that it had begun to rain and so he decided to take a bus to his favourite café instead of walking. The bus driver was listening to the radio, but for some reason the reception had become bad as Vincent boarded and all Vincent could hear was static. By the time the driver had a chance to adjust the radio Vincent had taken his seat. When the radio signal was restored Vincent heard a guitar phrase that was so familiar to him that he didn’t need to hear the first lines of the song to know what it was.

“I would have given you all of my heart
but there’s someone who’s torn it apart” went the radio. Vincent realized that this song would bring him to tears and so he covered his ears until the next stop, where he got off. He would rather walk in the rain than cry on a bus full of strangers.

The wind and rain was so cold that it shocked Vincent out of his sadness and all he wanted to do was get under cover. As Vincent ran through the rain a van drove past with the window down and radio on. Vincent could hear the tail end of the song he’d been trying to avoid “The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know…”

Vincent swore and wished he’d stayed at home. At least he was nearly at his favourite café. He began to imagine the nice cup of black coffee he’d have and tried to decide whether he would have bacon and eggs or French toast.

Just next to the café was a newsagent and Vincent decided to buy a newspaper to read over breakfast, but as he walked in his eye was drawn to one of the posters in the window. It was advertising a magazine and the girl on the cover looked strangely like Syafika. Vincent turned his head away. He was disgusted with himself. Why was everything reminding him of Syafika today? He should forget about her.

At least the paper looked interesting, which was unusual for the weekend. Vincent was sure he could lose himself in news for at least an hour. One hour without thinking of Syafika would do him good.

Vincent sat down and straight away a waiter came over with a menu. Vincent didn’t need to look at it though because he’d already decided. He ordered his coffee and French toast and was just opening the paper when he noticed that the café was also playing Cat Stevens.

“It’s not time to make a change” went the song.

“Man! Syafika may not have played that cd I gave her but the rest of the world seems to be” thought Vincent. He realized that he wasn’t going to be able to avoid thinking about Syafika today so he gave up trying to read the paper and started going over their fight in his head. He thought that at least that might make him angry enough to stop Cat Stevens from making him cry.


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