Tag Archives: Syafika

The Inklings: Chapter 103

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

Syafika rushed to work on Tuesday and worked diligently until Celine arrived, then she walked over to Celine’s desk.

“Will you come for a quick coffee with me after the meeting? I’d like to go back to the café and see the waiter again” said Syafika.

“Sure” said Celine, sounding pleased. Syafika noticed that Celine looked towards Fanta’s desk and thought Celine might have been checking to see whether Fanta looked jealous but Fanta was too busy reading to have noticed.

And so straight after the team meeting Syafika and Celine went to the café. When they arrived Celine noticed that the waiter who’d given Syafika the note wasn’t there and suggested they come back another day.

“But I saw him here when I walked past this morning on the way to work” said Syafika. “Maybe he’s just gone to the bathroom. I really need a coffee anyway. We can come back again tomorrow if he doesn’t turn up today”

Syafika was feeling proud of how she’d thought of a convincing lie so fast. She could see D’arby sitting at one of the tables and noticed that he was holding a mobile phone, which made Syafika feel like laughing because D’arby hated mobile phones more than she did – he didn’t have one and would normally have refused to even use one.

When they’d ordered their coffees Syafika lead Celine to the table next to D’arby’s, and sat down facing D’arby. This meant that Celine had to sit in the seat with her back to D’arby.

As soon as Celine was comfortable D’arby dialed her phone number. When Celine heard her phone ringing she took it out of her bag and answered.

“Hello?” said Celine. “Hello?” Celine looked at her phone screen and shook her head. “Someone called me from a private number and hung up as soon as I answered”

“Maybe it was a wrong number” said Syafika.

When Celine noticed the coffees being delivered to their table she put her phone back in her bag and was just about to take a sip of her coffee when D’arby rang her phone again. Celine sighed and answered but D’arby hung up again.

“Maybe they keep losing signal?” suggested Syafika.

“Maybe someone is trying to annoy me!” said Celine.

D’arby quickly sent Celine a text message that said “Why did you hang up?” Celine’s phone made a soft chiming sound when D’arby’s message arrived.

“I’m not going to read that” said Celine. “Stupid phone”

“It might be important. I don’t mind if you check it” said Syafika.

“No. I’m cross with my phone now” said Celine.

D’arby had to send another five messages before Celine’s curiosity grew large enough for her change her mind. Syafika watched as Celine unlocked her phone to check her text messges then Syafika deliberately picked up her coffee cup without taking a proper grip. The cup slipped out of her hand and spilt coffee all over the table

“Ow!” said Syafika, pretending she’d burnt her hand.

The next bit had been hard to plan because D’arby and Syafika could only guess what Celine and the waiter might do, but fortunately their behaviour suited the plan. The waiter rushed to get some ice for Syafika’s hand and Celine dropped her phone into her bag and rushed over to the counter to get some serviettes to wipe up the spilt coffee.

D’arby reached down into Celine’s bag and took her phone. He knew he only had seconds before the screen would lock so he quickly opened her Contacts and looked for a ‘Lawrence’, but there wasn’t one. There was only a ‘Mr L’. D’arby looked through the rest of Celine’s contacts and couldn’t see any sensible names. While Celine was wiping up the spilt coffee and the waiter was presenting Syafika with a bundle of ice wrapped in a tea towel D’arby discreetly copied down the numbers for Mr L, Mr X, Mr Triangle, Lion and Mouse. Then he carefully put Celine’s phone back in her bag.

“Would you like another coffee?” the waiter asked Syafika.

“No thanks, I feel so embarrassed that I just want to go. Thanks for offering though” said Syafika.

Celine was a bit annoyed because she’d been looking forward to drinking her coffee and the waiter could tell so he poured Celine’s coffee into a takeaway cup. Syafika insisted on paying the bill and while she was doing so D’arby walked past and dropped the phone he’d been using and a piece of paper into Syafika’s bag.

As they walked back to the office Syafika apologized to Celine and they organized to go for a coffee again the next day.

Back at the office Syafika did some work for about half an hour and then discreetly put D’arby’s phone and piece of paper into her pocket and headed for the bathroom. Syafika checked that the cubicles were all empty and then opened D’arby’s note. It said:

“There wasn’t a Lawrence in the phone so here are some possibles. Try them until you get him”

Underneath the note was a list of the phone numbers D’arby had copied from Celine’s contacts and ‘Mr L’ was first. “L for Lawrence” thought Syafika. “But what about T for Tucker?”. Syafika noticed there wasn’t a ‘Mr T’ on the list. Complicating Syafika’s thinking was the fact that when he’d been working with her, Anthony had gone by the name ‘Anthony Long’.

Syafika opened the phone D’arby had given her and tried ‘Mr L’ first.

“Hello?” said Anthony.

Syafika was so relieved that she didn’t have to call everyone on the list that she almost forgot what she was supposed to say.

“Hi. It’s me – Syafika. We really need to meet today. At lunchtime. I’ll wait for you at the café in the Botanic Gardens at 1pm. Ok?”

“What?” said Anthony. “What’s this about?”

“I can’t talk now. Will you be there at 1pm?” said Syafika.

“Ok” said Anthony.

Syafika quickly hung up, put the phone in her pocket and tried to look normal as she walked back to her desk.

As Syafika sat down she heard a funny tinkling sound and realised that the phone was ringing. She looked at the number and realised that Anthony was calling her back. Syafika couldn’t speak to Anthony there and didn’t know how to turn the phone off so she took the back off and removed the battery. Then she looked up to see who’d been watching her and was disappointed to see that Nelson and Celine were both looking at her.

“Sorry. New phone. I don’t know how to use it properly” said Syafika, hoping that she hadn’t stuffed everything up.

 

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The Inklings: Chapter 100

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

It was raining when Syafika left Fanta’s place, but Syafika liked being outside in the rain. There was still a little bit of light in the sky when Syafika arrived home so she decided to have a look at how the runoff was flowing through the back garden. As Syafika walked out the back door she discovered that Festus had set up his tools under the back verandah and was making something from pieces of wood.

“What are you making?” Syafika asked.

“I’m making two wheelchair ramps for India so that Penny can get in the front and back doors of her house” said Festus.

“That’s nice of you. I hope Penny and Gina are able to feel comfortable at India’s house” said Syafika. Syafika couldn’t imagine how she would survive living with India and realised that Penny and Gina would have to put up with it for at least a year.

“India will be on her best behaviour. She feels responsible for the fire and car accidents because she’s the one who asked Gina to make sweet potato chips, and it was India’s friends who filled the street with parked cars” said Festus.

Syafika took off her shoes and paddled along the miniature river to the pond. She could hear frogs croaking but it was too dark to see them. Then Syafika heard Rose telling Festus to come inside and reminding him that it was the 15th of March. Syafika had forgotten it was the anniversary of her grandparent’s death. She rushed inside to have a quick shower before 9pm.

Every year at 9pm on 15th March Rose would select something from her parents’ music collection to play and everyone had to sit in silence and listen to it from start to finish. It was not something that Syafika looked forward too, but she endured it without complaint because she knew how important it was to Rose.

When Syafika came into the loungeroom Rose was carefully opening a box that held the CDs, cassettes and records. Ousman was next to Binta and trying to stick his head into the box to see what Rose would choose to play.

“Be careful Ousman. The records are very fragile and precious” said Syafika.

There was a rule about which music was chosen. Each year they would play what was at the front of the box and then put it at the back of the box and Rose would not let anyone change the order. If anyone wanted to play any of the music on any other day of the year Rose would have to supervise and make sure that the order was not changed.

At the front of the box there was a CD and Binta took it out. The cover had a picture of a man sitting at a piano on it. Ousman laughed at the man’s hair because it was parted down the middle and stuck out a bit at the sides.

“This is the pianist who got so carried away that he often played wrong notes” said Binta.

Syafika remembered how when she was a girl her piano teacher had often been cross at her for playing wrong notes and decided that she might enjoy this record.

Syafika looked at Mamadou to see what he thought of this ceremony because it was the first time he’d been there to take part. Mamadou looked happy and Syafika wondered whether all artists were obsessed with music.

Festus turned on the lamp near the CD player and turned off the overhead light. Syafika realised that she sitting in the darkest seat in the room and was glad because it meant she wouldn’t have to worry about her face giving away any of her thoughts.

The first piece of music was slightly familiar to Syafika but not something she’d ever tried to play so she wasn’t able to tell if the pianist made any mistakes. The left hand played the melody and the right hand ran up and down the keyboard making complicated patterns that Syafika suspected were beyond her ability. Syafika enojyed the piece and wondered whether her grandparents had hoped she would be able to play it one day.

The second piece was something Syafika had played, but never as beautifully. The pianist on the record was explaining something using music, as if he wasn’t able to talk but had something very important to say. When Syafika had played the piece she’d been so worried about keeping time and getting the notes right that she’d made it sound robotic.

Syafika looked at Ousman to see if he was getting bored. He had his eyes closed and was leaning against Binta. At first Syafika thought he’d fallen asleep but then he smiled and moved his head to the other side so Syafika realised he was just enjoying the music.

The third piece of music was a trio and something Syafika had heard her grandfather listening to many times. The violin’s cheerful start made tears come to Syafika’s eyes. She remembered her grandfather’s bushy eyebrows and couldn’t help crying. Then Syafika remembered a stream of other things, like the day she’d got stuck at the top of a pear tree and her grandmother had called out helpful instructions to guide her down, and the taste of the dark purple plums her grandparents had grown. Syafika wiped tears from her cheeks and tried not to sniffle too loudly.

The next piece was just for piano and not something Syafika remembered hearing before. It reminded her of running up a hill and her mind drifted to other things. Syafika realised she missed being a kid who had nothing much to worry about apart from music lessons and she realised that she missed her piano teacher too.  Next Syafika remembered the photo of Anthony that D’arby had shown her that evening and the plans they’d made for her to contact Anthony. She realised how much she enjoyed being part of a plan that involved team work. It had been fun to spy on Anthony by herself, but also a bit too scary for comfort. Now that D’arby, Fanta and John were involved Syafika thought she would be able to relax and enjoy the adventure more.

When Syafika realised that instead of listening to the music she’d been thinking about Anthony and she decided that she’d give her full attention to the music for the rest of the CD. So Syafika spent the next half hour thinking only about the music she was listening to and she enjoyed it so much that when it was over she was disappointed.

When Festus turned the light on Syafika realised that Amanda was sitting on the floor near the door and looking really sad. When Amanda noticed that Syafika was looking at her she dashed out of the room and up the stairs so fast that Syafika wasn’t sure she’d really seen her.

Nobody else in the room mentioned Amanda and Syafika wondered whether they’d even noticed her. Ousman asked whether they could listen to music like that more often but Syafika didn’t wait to hear what Rose and Binta would say because she didn’t want anyone to notice that her eyes were red from crying. She said “Goodnight” and went to her room without looking back.


The Inklings: Chapter 99

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

D’arby couldn’t help running the last kilometre of his trip home. He was anxious to find out if he was right that Lawrence the spy was also Syafika’s Anthony.

When D’arby burst in the front door Fanta came out of the kitchen and whispered for him to be quiet, then pointed towards the chair where John was sleeping.

D’arby quietly opened his backpack and took out an enlarged copy of the photo on Lawrence’s license.

“Is this Anthony?” D’arby asked Fanta.

Fanta looked at the photo carefully and then said “I think it is him, but you should ask Syafika to be sure. I only saw him once, and he was running pretty fast. But why on earth do you want to know?”

D’arby hated that he couldn’t tell Fanta what was going on. “I decided I would try to find out what Anthony is up to afterall” said D’arby.

“Where did you get that photo?” asked Fanta.

“I’m not supposed to say” said D’arby. “Is Syafika coming for dinner tonight? I’d really like to show her the photo”

“She is. I will call her to see if she can come early” said Fanta. She had never seen D’arby looking so excited and didn’t want him to have to wait any longer than necessary.

The stress of the fire on Saturday had left Syafika mentally exhausted and she was not enjoying being at work on Monday, so when Fanta called to ask Syafika to come early for dinner she was happy to oblige. Syafika turned off her computer and went downstairs to change into her running clothes. The clothes were still damp with sweat from Syafika’s lunchtime run but she decided that being a bit smelly was a fair price to pay for getting to Fanta’s place a bit faster. Syafika started running as soon as she came out the front door of her office building and smiled to herself because she looked and felt like she was running away from work.

When Syafika arrived at Fanta’s house John answered the door and Syafika thought he looked like he’d just woken up.

D’arby was in the kitchen making salad to go with leftover pumpkin soup and bread. Fanta and her sisters were in the backyard taking the washing off the clothesline because it looked like it was about to rain.

Syafika went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and caught D’arby muttering to himself.

“I want to show you something” said D’arby and he quickly washed and dried his hands before going to get the photo of Lawrence.

“That’s Anthony!” said Syafika as soon as she saw the photo.

“I thought so” said D’arby. “I just have to make a quick phone call and I’ll be back in a minute” said D’arby and he rushed to the phone to call Rudnika.

“I was right” said D’arby to Rudnika.

“Ok. See what else you can find out and I’ll see you tomorrow” said Rudnika.

Syafika was still looking at the photo of Anthony when D’arby returned to the kitchen.

“Where did you get this?” Syafika asked.

“I can’t say” said D’arby. “But I’ll help you find out more about Anthony if you like”

“Why now? A couple of months ago when I suggested we spy on him you and the others thought it was a dangerous idea” said Syafika. She’d been feeling a bit hurt ever since.

“I realised I should have been more helpful” said D’arby. “Tell me what else you want to know about Anthony”

Syafika didn’t want to tell D’arby that she wanted to know if Anthony had a girlfriend so she tried to think of other things she’d like to know and eventually said “I’d like to know how he can afford to live in a flat with harbour views and where he really went last year when he said he was moving to Perth. And I’d like to know where he works now, and why he pretends to be someone called Lawrence and has meetings with Celine and Nelson from work”

D’arby couldn’t help smiling when he heard all this information, even though he’d heard most of it before, because this time it made sense and he no longer thought that Syafika was making it up. D’arby really wanted to give Syafika some answers but knew he had to be careful. Then D’arby had what he thought was a brilliant idea. “Why don’t you organize to meet up with Anthony and just ask him all your questions?”

“I don’t know how to contact him” said Syafika. “I don’t have his current phone number”.

“Nelson must have it though” said D’arby.

“And so does Celine” said Syafika. “I saw her put it in her mobile phone”.

“What’s going on?” asked John as he walked into the kitchen with a fresh teatowel.

“Do you know anything about mobile phones?” D’arby asked John.

“Only how to steal them” said John.


The Inklings: Chapter 87

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

As Syafika walked to work on Wednesday she kept thinking about her Mum. Syafika hadn’t mentioned to Rose that she’d seen her give money to the lady who lived in the park. Instead Syafika decided that next time her Mum said she was going to the beauty salon she would follow her. Syafika was impatient to find out what was going on but she was also excited to think that she might be able to find the answer without having to ask. Syafika suspected that her Mum never went to the beauty salon and that instead she walked around looking for someone to give the money away to. It made Syafika proud to think that her Mum had this extra dimension of kindness.

When Syafika arrived at her desk she noticed that Celine had beaten her to work so she checked the time. It was only 8am. Syafika wondered why Celine had arrived so early that day, because (just as Anthony had requested) Celine and Fanta were sharing the one role and so they each worked only 3.5 hours per day. Fanta would be there during school hours and Celine usually did the same. Christine had even been persuaded to move the team meeting back to 9:30am so that Fanta and Celine could attend.

A bit later Syafika was engrossed in some reading when Celine came over and asked if she’d like to go out for a coffee before the team meeting. Syafika felt uncomfortable around Celine and looked up to see if Fanta had arrived yet so she could suggest Fanta come too, but Fanta wasn’t there.

As Syafika agreed to coffee with Celine she tried to sound enthusiastic. Celine lead the way to the coffee shop where Syafika had seen her meeting with Anthony (Lawrence). As they walked, Celine kept asking Syafika questions. Celine asked what Syafika was working on, how long she’d been working there, what the other people in the team were like and then moved on to more personal topics. By the time they arrived at the café Celine was asking Syafika if she had a partner and as they ordered their coffees Celine volunteered that she was also on the lookout for a boyfriend.

“What’s your type?” asked Syafika. She was hoping to find out whether Celine had a romantic interest in Anthony.

Celine paused to think before she answered “Someone brave who thinks for themselves. And someone who is genuine. I hate it when people try to trick me”

Syafika wondered whether that was a good description of Anthony and decided that Anthony probably wasn’t very genuine – although he didn’t seem to directly try to deceive Syafika he had always been evasive and she realized she hardly knew anything about him.

Then Celine asked Syafika what her type was and Syafika struggled to find an answer. Eventually she managed to say “Someone who I can have good discussions with and who likes me the way I am”.

“That’s easy!” Celine exclaimed. “Good discussions are something you can initiate, and making someone like you the way you are is easy too”.

“What? How can that be? How can you make someone like you the way you are?” asked Syafika.

“It all comes down to making them feel good about themselves when they are with you. There’s almost a formula for that” answered Celine.

Syafika wanted to know the formula but she was a bit skeptical and so she said “How do you know people don’t just like you anyway because you are so good looking? I bet what works for you won’t work for me”

Celine laughed and rolled her eyes. Celine had noticed that the waiter had looked at Syafika a few times so she thought she’d use this to her advantage.

“I will teach you and then you will believe me” said Celine. “When the waiter brings our coffees over I want you to smile and then observe him. I need you to be able to tell me the colour of his eyes and any distinguishing features of them. You will need to keep him here a while so you get time, so ask him a question – an interesting question that he is likely to have something to say about. And when you pick up your coffee to take a sip make sure that you wobble the cup so a little bit spills into the saucer. Then laugh at yourself – don’t get annoyed. And smile.”

Syafika thought this was stupid but she decided that a good way to show Celine she was wrong was to do what Celine asked and have it fail. So Syafika decided to make it look like she was taking the instructions seriously.

At least Syafika didn’t have to pretend to smile – she was so happy to see the generous sprinkle of chocolate powder on top of her cappuccino that she couldn’t have stopped herself from smiling. But Syafika remembered she couldn’t take a sip yet. She looked the waiter in the eye and asked him what the best and worst things about working in the café were. The waiter looked surprised because he’d been expecting a question like what the cake of the day was. He was happy to answer though and Celine nodded because she thought Syafika had asked a good question.

“Customers are the best and the worst thing” said the waiter, and he started telling the story of the day a customer had fixed the coffee machine when it broke down in the middle of the morning rush.

Syafika noted that the waiter had blue eyes but knew that wouldn’t be a detailed enough description to satisfy Celine so she looked harder and saw that around the pupil his eyes were slightly golden and that there was a ring around each iris that was almost black but probably really a very dark green.

As Syafika went to pick up her coffee she did as Celine had instructed and spilt a little bit of coffee into the saucer.

“Oops” said Syafika, and she smiled to herself.

The waiter smiled and would have told Syafika about his worst customers but he was called over to the cash register because the queue of people wanting takeaway coffees was growing longer.

While Celine and Syafika drank their coffees Syafika impressed Celine with her description of the waiter’s eyes but Celine was disappointed that Syafika hadn’t noticed other things she thought were important, like which hand he’d used to serve the coffees, whether his top or bottom lip was larger, what he smelt like, the shape of his earlobes and how the length of his upper arm compared to the width of his shoulders.

“You didn’t tell me to look for all those things!” complained Syafika. “And what is all that information good for anyway?” Syafika was beginning to think that Celine might be playing a trick on her.

“If you do the observation well you will see the effect for yourself” said Celine.

It was time to leave the café and go to the team meeting. The waiter was still operating the cash register when Celine and Syafika went to pay, but he didn’t continue his stories because the man operating the coffee machine was the owner of the café and he would have heard. Instead the waiter looked at Syafika and asked if they’d enjoyed their coffees. To buy Syafika time to make the rest of her observations, Celine gave an exaggerated description of how nice her coffee had been and described the flavours she’d been able to pick out and asked where the coffee beans were grown. While this was going on Syafika was looking at the waiter’s mouth, ears, arms and shoulders. Then she leant forward slightly and took a deep inhale.

When Syafika and Celine had left the café Celine said “So?”

“Right handed, bottom lip was slightly bigger, he smelt like cinnamon, his ear lobes were triangular and his upper arms were about 75% as long as his shoulders were wide” said Syafika. “How did that make him like me?”

“What’s that note in your hand?” asked Celine.

Syafika looked down at what she had thought was a receipt but it was really a handwritten note on a scrap of paper. It said “I hope you come back soon”. Syafika looked at Celine carefully because she still felt like Celine might have been tricking her and suspected that the waiter might be in on the trick too, but there wasn’t time to interrogate Celine because they had to rush back for the team meeting.


The Inklings: Chapter 86

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

Although Syafika had been expecting that she would feel cross after having to get up so early, she was actually enjoying how peaceful everything was at that time of day. She went out into the backyard and looked up at the sky to watch it change colour as the sun came up. Aminata seemed to like this time of day too. She flew out of the back door and sat in a tree. Ousman and Binta came outside soon after.

Then the door of the garden shed opened and Mamadou came outside. He had a big smile on his face and was carrying a cup of tea. This made Syafika smile too.

The peaceful start to the day ended as soon as Festus opened the door for Zikpi and the film crew. Zikpi had a clipboard with a list of things she wanted to film that day and as Zikpi started explaining the schedule Binta went and hid upstairs because she really didn’t want her moving in with Rose to become part of the story about the renovations.

It was interesting to see the look on Zikpi’s face when she walked out into the back garden. Of course she’d been there when the garden was being created but her focus had been on the house because her show was about houses, and Zikpi wasn’t experienced in looking at garden plans and predicting what a finished landscape would be like. When Zikpi first saw the backyard her normally serious expression softened into a look of wonder and her cheeks developed a rosy glow. It was as if time had reversed and Zikpi had gone back to being a child. Instead of barking orders to the film crew, Zikpi walked around slowly and quietly and the only noises that came from her mouth were surprised inhales each time she discovered a new feature of the garden. When Zikpi had taken everything in she turned around and, with a wobbly voice she said “I’ve never seen anything so amazing! So beautiful! Such a paradise!” and the clever film crew captured it all.

Zikpi seemed to really be enjoying herself for the rest of the day, and Mamadou took full advantage of Zikpi’s good mood. Everytime he had an opportunity to speak infront of the camera Mamadou said something mischievous. He made it clear what he thought of typical renovations and the materialistic lifestyle that shows like Zikpi’s usually promoted. But it wasn’t really Zikpi’s mood that made her let Mamadou speak his mind. It was because he was living his message.

Zikpi had filmed many people who talked about sustainable lifestyles or passion for art or nature but, possibly because it was so unlikely for someone to succeed in coming to Zikpi’s attention without them being an expert in self promotion, Zikpi had found that commendable sentiments and impeccable manners were often an insubstantial layer on the outside of a mean and competitive core – like a poisonous snake wrapped up in a piece of velvet. Because of the circles she mixed in, Zikpi also hadn’t come across many people who would have maintained their passions if they hadn’t made them comfortably well-off and so the novelty of a person who had a pure and open agenda meant that Zikpi couldn’t hear enough of what Mamadou had to say. Zikpi did not find Mamadou charming but she wanted her viewers to hear his message.

Festus and Rose also did well infront of the camera. Festus was surprised by how much he enjoyed showing Zikpi how all the plumbing worked – how rain water ran to the tank and then was used for washing people and clothes and then how the dirty water was cleaned and used again as it made its way through the garden. When Zikpi asked Rose how the whole renovation idea came about Rose told the truth and admitted that she didn’t even know what a greywater system was before India started talking about how important they were and that everything had flowed on from there because it had made Rose decide to try to make her home self-sufficient before India could.

Filming finished earlier than expected and Binta came out of hiding as soon as she’d heard that the cameras had been packed away. Then everyone had a nice late lunch together before Zikpi and the crew left.

After lunch Syafika went to have a siesta to catch up on the sleep she’d missed out on by getting up so early. Everyone else retreated into quiet corners to relax too. An hour or so later everyone was up and moving around again and Rose announced that she was going to the beauty salon, as a treat for having survived the renovations. As Syafika watched Rose leave she realized that her Mum hadn’t been to the beauty salon for months and guessed that it was because she hadn’t wanted to spend money while Festus was unable to earn any money.

A bit later in the afternoon Syafika decided she would go for a run. She hadn’t been for a run near home before and so it was exciting to plan about the route she would take. Syafika decided on a circuit that took in a couple of local parks. The first park was a quiet one and Syafika enjoyed being the only person there. She ran a couple of loops around the park, running on the grass rather than the path and passing under the shade of as many trees as possible. When she left the park Syafika noticed that a change of weather was blowing in and enjoyed the way the wind cooled her down.

The second park Syafika ran around was much busier because it was close to a train station. It was never empty because some people lived there. As Syafika ran along the path at the top of the park she thought she noticed Rose walking through the park and thought that was strange because her beauty salon was in a different direction. Syafika’s first impulse was to run over to her Mum and find out what she was doing there, but then Syafika remembered that she was unofficially a spy in training and decided to instead watch her Mum from a distance and see if she could work out what was going on.

Syafika followed Rose, making sure she stayed about 20 metres behind. There was a group of people walking just behind Rose who would provide Syafika with some cover if her Mum happened to turn around.

Then Rose stepped off the path and started walking over to the fence where there were a couple of tattered tents. A lady came out of one of the tents and Rose spoke to her briefly then handed her something before walking off towards home.

Syafika kept following Rose, but as she passed the lady outside the tent Syafika sneaked a look at her and saw that she was holding a small bundle of $50 notes. The lady was looking a very happy but also a bit shocked.


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.


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.


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