Jabali's Redemption - Episode 22
Neema emerged from the lavatory after an hour of bawling out and crying her heart out. Her phone rang numerous times but she didn’t pick it up. She didn’t want to leave the safety of the small four wall space and face Jabali. She wished he would leave her alone but that was going to be hard considering she just signed a marriage certificate with him.
Married to Jabali Kasri.
She was now Mrs. Jabali Kasri . Her husband murdered her brother. Naiti must be turning on his grave now seeing what she had done, Neema thought morbidly. She didn’t know how to tell her mama and Ngao that she was married to Jabali. They will not believe her at first, then hate her. Jabali had finally done her in. Neema prayed that Naiti would understand her situation, she couldn’t protect him all those years ago but now she was going to protect her family that was alive. Jabali would never harass them again, Neema hoped that Naiti would understand.
She cringed as she checked her reflection on the mirror, her eyes were swollen and her face bloated. Her nose was shiny and she looked like she had not been sleeping for months on end. It was a good thing she carried a small make up kit that she rarely used. She didn’t ever think it would come up handy
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. After a few well-placed strokes of a brush, she looked almost brand new. Though she couldn’t do much to the eyes, their rims were red.
She stepped out of the toilet only to find Jabali standing outside the door, a blank look on his face, his jaw ticking. How long had he been standing there? She wondered.
‘We have to take some photos, I organized a photo shoot session,’
Was he serious? Photos? Neema’s sad was turning to rage now. What in the world was wrong with Jabali, he couldn’t be this stupid. She was not going to take any photos with him. Never ever. Neema didn’t answer him, she turned and started walking away. If she didn’t she was going to punch him up.
After a step, he grabbed her hand and pulled her back to him, Neema knew they would be attracting a scene if not for the toilets being behind the tall building on a small corridor.
‘And these,’ he went ahead and produced two golden rings from his breast pocket, Neema looked at the shining surface. Those were the small handcuffs that were going to bind her to Jabali probably for life, fresh tears threatened to start falling.
‘Why Neema? Is the idea of being married to me so bad?’ his tone forced Neema to look up to him, she could see a break in his indifference dark handsome face, his eyebrows were creased together and his mouth set in a hard line. Neema could instinctively feel that this was not easy for him, then why was he doing this?
He appeared hurt but by what? The emotion disappeared as quickly as it came, his face becoming a blank mask again.
‘Jabali we have time to stop this…’ she started pleading with him, maybe he would reconsider…
‘Mr. Kasri, we have been looking for you everywhere, time is not on our side,’ an eccentric female voice called out and Jabali released her arm, turning to face the owner pf the voice but not before whispering down at her in a tight voice, ‘you are my wife now Neema, behave. Your brother and mama’s destinies lie on your hands. Choose your next steps wisely,’
Neema knew her fights were ineffective, she had lost the battle a long time ago. She would anything to protect her family.
‘Is this the lucky bride?’ Neema quickly dabbed the tears from the corner of her eyes and turning to face the woman.
The lady was clearly a fashionista, dressed in a long pink slack, impossibly high heels and a long sleeved white dress shirt. Her afro hair was all over her head and it bobbed up and down whenever she moved her head.
‘Oh, your wife is beautiful Jabali, the pictures are going to be perfect,’ the tall lady gushed as Neema stared on wandering what is going on, how was a perfect day descending into this madness,
As if hearing her thoughts Jabali introduced them, ‘Neema, this is the events manager who will…’
‘Oh Mr. Kasri, you are being so modest, I am not an event manager. Though when you called me to ask me to take pictures of your civil wedding I thought it was a surprise. I wanted to suggest maybe we could go for a full wedding photoshoot with bridesmaids and grooms but you insisted you wanted something small…’ the lady prattled on and in the process revealing a lot of information that Jabali hadn’t cared to explain to her.
It was clear Jabali had taken his time coming up with the perfect plan to lure her into his trap and setting up the marriage.
‘I think we are clear to go,’ Jabali cut the lady short after consulting his wrist watch. The lady stopped for a second and turned to Neema, looking her up and down.
‘You are the first silent bride I have come across,’ she noticed curiously,
Jabali released a hearty laughter and threw his arms casually over Neema’s shoulders, squeezing her slightly, ‘I believe she is awe struck,’ he held on with some force when Neema tried to move away from him, ‘sweetheart where are your manners,’ he added with a forced smile at her.
‘Nice to meet you,’ Neema forced herself to extend her arm and greet the events manager, who smiled happily at her.
‘Now if you would come with me Mrs. Jabali, my team will prepare you effectively for an official wedding photo shoot,’
Mrs. Jabali, that made Neema felt light headed.
The lady led her from Jabali to a passage of corridors into a room full of people. They all smiled at her as she entered. The events manager didn’t stop prattling, she asked Neema of her favorite colors and other mundane things and Neema only answered halfheartedly, her mind was swirling in thoughts.
In less than an hour, Neema had been turned, twisted, curved and bent through a series of dressing, manicure, pedicure and facial cleansing that she hadn’t expected. Never had she been pampered so much in her life. The lady and her team were serious about there work. Her braided hair was unbraided and a different style was set. The lady asked her preferences and most of the time Neema let her do what she thought was good. Finally, the process was over and Neema was fitted into a beautiful white wedding dress.
‘Perfect, now bring out the mirror,’ the events manager clapped her hands together giddily, creating anticipation for Neema, she wished to see how she looked.
Neema was helped to stand up and face a long mirror. She blinked her eyes severally at the image that stared back at her.
A true transformation.
Her skin glowed and her make up was perfect. Not exaggerated or caked on. Her wedding dress was uniquely set. It was simple yet elegant. Seeing herself in the dress Neema felt sad. This was not how she ever envisioned her wedding day.
Once a long time ago, when she thought she was going to get married, she wanted her family to be around her. Her mama holding her hand and her brothers smiling at her, threatening to break her husband’s legs if he dared hurt her. Her elusive extended family would also be around and there would be music and food for people to enjoy. The wedding would take place on a beach and her groom would profess his eternal love for her, not threatening her to render family destitute if she didn’t agree to his terms.
Jabali had managed to destroy another of her dreams. She was getting married in a government office with strangers around her on a Monday morning, who gets hitched on a Monday? Her family had no the slightest idea what was happening and she didn’t know how to break it to them.
‘Don’t be so sad Neema, am sure Mr. Kasri will make you a very happy woman. He is not a bad man entirely,’ the woman whispered behind her seeing Neema’s sad expression.
‘Thank you,’ Neema didn’t know what else to say. It was obvious the lady didn’t know what kind of charade was going on. Though she had to hand it over to her, she was good with makeup.
Neema reentered the board room where Jabali was seated on the head chair, his hands practically fling on top of the keyboard of his laptop. He never stopped working, even on such a day. The room had been transformed and decorated with creative lightning and colorful strips of light. Balloons and baskets of flowers were tastefully arranged all over, the long conference table was removed and the floor was decorated with carpets and carefully strewn flowers. The room looked magnificent. Jabali had not spared a cent.
He had loosened to tie and rolled the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows. The crisp shirt hugged his biceps and Neema gaze travelled from his long, neat fingers to his strong throat where some buttons of his shirt had been loosened. She nearly choked on her own saliva. How can someone so attractive turn out to be so cruel? It wasn’t fair.
‘Neema,’ he had noticed her and stood up, his eyes quickly taking her in, from the hair updo, to her face and downwards. Neema felt her blood heating up when he started coming towards her, his eyes turning dark, the gaze Neema instantly remembered. The office elevator’s some tome back. The time when she lost her senses for a second and fell into his arms, it felt like a long time ago.
Now he was standing before her, he raised his hand and lightly touched her cheek,
‘You are very beautiful,’ he whispered in his deep voice, his long finger trailing from her cheek to down to her collar bone, leaving a trail of fire. Neema closed her eyes and focused on his spicy scent that he exuded. His presence was causing her light-headedness and when she managed to open her eyes, his lips were descending down to her.
Bright light flashed inside the room and both Neema and Jabali turned to see a be-spected photographer smiling at them behind his lens. She hadn’t seen him and wondered where he came from. Curse Jabali and his lethal looks, enough to command the room to a standstill, Neema thought, she hadn’t focused on anything else apart from him. His mere presence was able to command a room to a standstill.
Neema quickly took a step back from Jabali but he snaked his hand on her waist to stop her. Instinctively Neema raised her hand to his shirt to hold onto something and she held on to his solid biceps. His skin was warm and hard under the shirt and Neema bit her lower lip, the camera clicked again. Was Jabali putting on a show? She wondered, of course he was, she stupidly answered herself.
Read " The Dancing Bride And Her Spirit Warrior " by the same author ( Razia Iminza )
. The whole charade was a show. He had an angle to it and Neema was going to find it out.
‘Easy,’ he whispered at her when she tried to get away from him.
Then it occurred to Neema that her attraction for him was going to be hard to fight now that they were going to live like husband and wife. Wait, Neema thought in horror, was she going to live with Jabali? Did her expect her to act like a wife to him? Neema was determined to put up with him only in the public but once they were alone, she would shun him.
‘Smile Neema, this is going to be over soon,’ he whispered into her hair as he held her close, the camera clicked rapidly, the flash lights practically blinding her.
‘Just like that, closer, yes like that,’ the photographer encouraged snapping pictures here and there. Jabali even put back his coat and tie and more photos. He knew how to pose for the pictures. He held her like he meant it, his eyes roving over her like she was the most treasured person he had ever seen. Neema’s heart was thudding loudly in her heart, she knew she was reacting to him. He was the only man who had ever managed to command her body to bend to his will.
How was she going to survive living with him?
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