This courtroom. Why everything has to be made from wood I don’t know. Like inside a coffin box it feels. Only carpet is some ugly green color, like Miss To Go eye-shadow.
MTG and Tariku are at their table, putting their heads with their lawyer like children whispering evil plan. But nothing will surprise me because I know what is next. It is their turn to bring people to give testimony for their side. My lawyer knows who they will bring, like they knew who my lawyer was going to bring. All this process I know from watching Columbo even many years before.
My lawyer, he looks more like Columbo’s grandfather who for his hobby all he does is eat. Two chairs would have make him more comfortable. Or bench. For me, a woman lawyer I would have liked but that was before I find out Tariku and MTG have a woman lawyer.
Forget all that, what happens next I almost cannot believe. The witness they bring, who is it? Someone who was to be witness for me and Columbo! I look at C to see if he knew. Like me he looks surprised. But, what to do? Is this normal, for witness to jump sides?
It is that Somali owns the internet cafe. Fuaad. I remember he said his name means ‘heart’. I think he means ‘betraying heart’. May it burst into a million pieces. On the Koran he puts his hand and says that he will do the opposite of what he will do – tell truth.
Zanzibar Internet Cafe. That what he calls his business. As if when they kick him out of Africa like penalty ball he first land his bony bottom there. His story is, it was not me and Tariku that go to his cafe to talk about the buna business. It was only Tariku. His memory has put eraser on the part of the picture where I also was standing and trying to talk sense into Tariku’s head, to tell him that paper flyer, poster, is old style. Everything is to be online, I said. Web page. Facebook page. Twitter page. All kinds of page. Sign up on website that list all the restaurant for delivery. They don’t list café without real world location? So what? We try. Like this we debating for more than hour. But all this, the eraser in Fuaad’s brain rubbed from memory.
When it is his turn to cross examine, my Columbo asks, “Then how is it that from the start of the business there were paper and electronic advertisements? How did that happen, if nobody discussed it and it was not agreed to at that meeting between yourself and Mr. Tariku? And how is it that this electronic promotional materials were all created at, and billed to, Zanzibar Internet Café?”
“Maybe when I am not there,” says Fuaad. “Maybe then someone come and do those things. I don’t recollect.”
Just yesterday Fuaad learned that way of saying I think. ‘I don’t recollect’ ‘I don’t recollect’, he says it like repeating sura. Anyway, that little single buna grain size of doubt my Columbo has put into the heads of the jury, so for that I am satisfied.
The way it happen was really like this. That day I come home from working at Mmmmufins and when me and Tariku are standing in our little kitchen looking at our little collection of coffee things and we surprised that we have maybe the same idea in our head and then the sink overflows the water. Yes, that day, after we sweep all the water mess from the kitchen floor, then we get to work. At that time, we are not thinking ‘who said it first?’ We are only thinking all the things there are to do.
First, of course, is to register that name: 1-800-Abol Buna Home Delivery and Preparation. Long name, yes, but too late now. Registering that name, getting that number called ‘toll-free’, all that is long story it will make you sleep. The part we are talking is the Fuaad part, when things become interesting. So. There we are, three of us. I, like normal person who lives in modern time, say we do everything online. Nobody uses paper anymore. That Fuaad, also he is on my side. Of course. That is his bread and butter. Only Tariku his teeth will not remove from this need of paper. So, we decide to do both. Only that way can everyone be happy. Fuaad the most happy, more money for him. The design, the words, all that I leave to them. I am the idea woman.
Time pass. Everything online looks nice, but nobody is calling. The flyers go into all the habesha restaurants, convenience stores, taxi driver cars. It is irritating no one is calling, but on the other side it is a blessing. Because our equipment it is not ready. The main piece is missing still. No jebena. That means no go. Waiting for container to fill in Djibouti, says Amina the owner of the big habesha shop. Nothing will be shipping until container full. When that? Allah knows. So it is ok if nobody is calling us yet when we first make our business known to the city.
Some time before, after the registering and the number-getting, and after Fuaad, is when we went to the Amina shop. There is where we get a shock.
“Sorry, I don’t have any jebena,” says Amina.
“What you mean no jebena?” I say.
I point to one corner of the shop. Around there she used to have the coffee things, and the shelf always it was full as much of dust as those things. I notice the area looks more empty than before, like when someone was motivate to clean up since long time. “I remember, there used to be one big huge jebena like almost up to my knee. Always it is there covered with dust.”
“Oh that. A ferenj lady come and buy it some weeks ago. She wanted sini too. And everything else that goes with buna.”
“To do what?” Tariku says.
“To do what? To do coffee, what else to do what?” I say.
“No.” Amina says, laughing. “That I think too. But she says nice presents they will make for Christmas time. Each thing she will give for different people in her family as gift. But jebena she will use as flowerpot.”
“As flowerpot?” I say. “What kind of child’s idea is that?”
“She say one night she see sini by the back window of taxi. She say it was so cute.”
When hearing this, Tariku says, “Oh! I remember that woman!”
Later I come to know that woman too. Shelley is her name. The first customer of our business. Also the person that make Tariku lose his taxi job.
She is sitting in the witness box now, Shelley. She is long and yellow and thin like those brooms we use to clean ceiling corner. “That cup was the cutest little thing,” she says. “I’d never seen anything like it. Not even in that store Ten Thousand Villages. The taxi driver, Tariku over there,” she points to Tariku. “He said that he has coffee going in the back sometimes. Otherwise I’d have never known that it was a coffee cup. For one thing it was just so tiny. And it was upside down, so it looked like, oh I don’t know, like a mini white mountain.”
She puts her hand like she is holding a sini, then turns is upside down. “After that, I found Amina’s shop on Yellow Pages, and bought just about everything I could lay my hands on. Then I had a change of heart about giving it all away as Christmas presents.”
“Which is when you began asking around about finding someone who can show you how to use it all,” Tariku and MTG’s female lawyer says to her.
“Yes. That was when I decided to learn how to actually use the stuff. I tried the internet but I didn’t find anything. So –
“So,” says the lawyer, smiling, “What you are saying is that you did not discover anything about 1-800-Abol from your online search.”
“That’s correct. So next I looked up restaurants, and started asking around there, hoping that they could refer me to someone or even teach me.”
And that is how the paper flyer, that Tariku said we have to have, end up in Shelley’s hand. One of the waitress girls at one of the restaurants, I think it was Hana at Blue Nile, she gave it to her. Or call the taxi company and just ask for his taxi number 1569, she said to her. I think this Hana must be one of the chicks Tariku used to have on rotation. It must be he take her out of rotation so revenge she wants. Because everybody knows that if any taxi driver gets request by a customer, that is big no-no. You get suspension. Worse if dispatch hears about it. You get fired.
Shelley called dispatch and asked for night driver of taxi # 1569. So guess what Tariku get. But, you lose one thing and it dies, you gain another thing and it lives. Tariku lose job, but 1-800-Abol gain first customer.