Jabali's Redemption - Episode 7
Jabali’s office was cool, rustic furniture decorated the place. Neema could see a big ebony desk with a laptop on top of it. A low black task office chair sat behind the big desk, a tall window with the background of the endless estates of tea. On the far right you could see the snowcapped Tembo Mountain in the misty clouds. The view was breathtaking and Neema wished she it would last but she had other important business to attend to.
She turned around to see him not having moved an inch from the position he was standing by the door, looking at her . His eyes unnerved her. Neema clutched her bag tightly to hide shaking fingers.
‘Jabali I have come to talk to you about…’Neema started she avoided sitting on the chair since he too was standing.
‘Ngao, I know,’ he finished for her, pocketing his hands deep inside the pocket, he still didn’t make an effort to move from the door.
‘Then you also know that a juvenile detention is not a place for a young boy like him,’ she countered.
Jabali chuckled his light laugh not reaching his dark eyes,’ your brother damaged my property. He has to be held responsible for his actions,’
‘He is a young boy Jabali. He merely needs guidance and he will be able to correct his ways,’ Neema defended her brother
‘No, I don’t think so
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. This is the third time he did it, he is a repeat offender Neema. He won’t stop if I let him out,’ her name slipped so easily from his lips transporting Neema at a different time but she shook her head to clear her thoughts.
‘But, you can’t hold him inside the detention surely there must be something we can do to prevent that,’ Neema quickly looked for solutions noticing the resolute face of Jabali.
He walked towards her, ‘Tell me something Neema, all these years you ran away from Tembo swearing never to come back, was it Ngao’s situation that made you change your mind?’ he stopped right in front of her, breaking into her personal space again. Neema refused to step back that would give him the satisfaction of bullying her. She had to crane her neck back to face him, he was that tall. Did he notice her absence from the town? Why was that? They hadn’t really parted ways as the best of friends.
‘It is none of your business why I left town and why I stayed away for so long. I am here to demand you to release my brother,’ Neema commanded trying to keep her wits close to her, she was not going to play mind games with him. His scent was wreaking havoc at her and she was really trying not to breath in so much of it. Why did he have to smell so good?
‘Oh it is my business Neema, since it my property that was damaged and your brother was the culprit. You are here trying to paint him as a saint when clearly he is not,’ Jabali leaned forward and Neema took an involuntary step back. His eyes were dark and bitter, though that did not diminish his attractive looks. He looked dangerously handsome. Stop, she mentally slapped herself. Jabali was a murderer for crying out loud.
‘He is only acting out, Ngao is…’ Neema tried to explain still holding his turbulent gaze.
‘Acting out to what? I have never done anything wrong to him,’ he finished the sentence for her again but Neema grew furious. How can he claim he didn’t know the reason why Ngao was so antagonistic towards him?
‘You are lying, you know very well what you did to us, to our family…to Naiti,’ Neema whispered her brother’s name, willing tears not to fall. Every time she thought of the cruel way her brother died, something inside her died too. She wondered how long the pain would persist.
‘I never killed Naiti…’ he stoically retained his innocence. His voice a whisper barely on top of hers. His eyes piecing into hers, Neema could see some genuinely and hurt there but she refused to believe his innocence. Jabali used his family name and wealth to win the case. He was a murderer.
‘Don’t you dare say his name,’ she gritted her teeth stabbing her finger on his chest,’ you have something against my family. Killing my brother and now jailing another.’
Jabali took hold of her finger in a strong grip, ‘No it is the opposite, and it is your family that has something against me. Without provocation Ngao attacked my family and Naiti,’ Neema tried to snatch her finger from his warm grasp but it was futile, angry tears escaped her eyes but Jabali held strong, ‘yes I will say his name, Naiti, I didn’t kill him, it was pure coincidence…’
‘No I will no longer listen to your lies…I…’ Neema was shaking uncontrollably now. She hated Jabali. She hated his guts so much.
‘Naiti was murdered and the perpetrators are still out there.’
‘Of course the perpetrator was not caught. He is standing right in front of me and it appears he is preparing to strike again,’ she spat out bitterly, still trying to release her trapped fingers, Jabali didn’t appear to be flexing his muscles. Why did he have to be so strong?
He released a rough laughter, his whole body reverberating with him, ‘you are wrong Neema. I am innocent. I have always been innocent,’ his laughter didn’t have mirth. It was dry and cruel as him.
‘Let my brother go,’ she whispered now pleading with him, ‘ I will personally make sure he pays for his mistakes and stay away from you, we will both stay away from you,’ Neema didn’t want to come anywhere near him again.
He scowled down at her and suddenly released her causing her to stumble on her feet though she didn’t fall down. She rubbed her finger trying to get rid of him, his warmth.
‘That won’t be enough. Ngao has to pay for the damages. The repairs didn’t come cheap,’ he walked round her and to his seat. Neema tried to ignore the way he fit so well into the suit. It looked like it was made just for him.
‘How much was it?’ Neema wanted to know how much of her savings she was going to lose. She had already come with some money prepared hoping it would be enough.
Jabali held a ball point pen tapping it on the desk looking at her,
‘The amount totaled to…,’he mentioned a blasphemous amount that made drop her jaws.
‘But how is that even possible. It was only a fence,’ she exclaimed
‘Point of correction, an electric fence. He is lucky he didn’t end up electrocuted in the process,’ Jabali smirked at her, revealing his dimpled cheek. Neema’s breath held for a second.
Get a hold of yourself, she admonished herself.
He placed a dossier in front of her and Neema could see the breakdown of all the damage her brother and his friends had caused. The cost of reinstallation and the rest. Her legs felt rubbery so she dropped down on the seat before her, gripping the report tightly. She wished it was Ngao so that she could strangle him. How was he so reckless? Where in the world would she get the money to reimburse?
‘This is a lot of money,’ she said after the shock had passed.
‘As said it was a lot of damage, you understand why I have to have him in remand. I fear if I let him out the same will happen,’
‘I will make sure that won’t happen again. You have my word.’ Neema assured him.
‘What benefit do you get with him inside the juvenile detention?’ she questioned.
‘What benefit do I have with him out of that place? He will only cause chaos again,’ Jabali challenged back, sitting back on his chair, looking smug.
‘He…’ Neema remembered the bitter way Ngao had spoken about Jabali. She couldn’t guarantee that Ngao wouldn’t try another antic if he was out of jail.
‘I take it you don’t have the money,’ he raised his cut eyebrow at her.
‘I do have some money but it won’t be enough for all of these,’ Neema pointed at the file flustered.
‘Then we have nothing to discuss here Neema, I will see you on court on Monday where justice will be served,’ he abruptly stood up and walked towards the door. Neema could only watch with a dropped jaw as the situation before her escalated.
‘No wait,’ she stumbled after him, ‘there must be something I can do to stop my brother from being convicted,’
‘Short of getting my money back? Nothing. Actions have consequences, Neema,’ his tone was brusque and uncompromising.
‘I can work. No both Ngao and I can work for you till the debt Ngao has is paid. We can pick tea,’
‘I don’t allow children under eighteen anywhere near the tea estates so Ngao working for me is out of question. It would take you years to pick enough tea to pay off that debt,’
‘I am not afraid of hard work.’ She defiantly fought back. Ngao couldn’t go to juvenile center. ‘I will do anything,’ by now she was standing right in front of him by the open door.
‘Anything?’ he questioned and Neema noticed the spark on his dark eyes.
She swallowed hard realizing she had made a big mistake.
‘He is back again,’ Lulu whispered behind Neema as the restaurant door of Swahili dishes chimed again. Neema raised her head from the ledger book she was trying so hard to balance the accounts of the day. Ma. Zainab had asked her to lock for the day after the last customer had left. It was already 8.30 pm by the large clock on the wall. Neema was ready to close for the day and go to sleep.
She was not expecting to see Jabali at the restaurant again. It had been exactly a week and two days since he had come into the restaurant.
Since the only remaining people at the restaurant was she and Lulu who had strategically disappeared back to the kitchen. She was obligated to go and serve him.
Jabali took his seat near a window and turned to his phone. Neema sighed and picked up a menu ready to go and serve him.
The restaurant was empty apart from both of them and Lulu in the back. Rain was drizzling outside and Neema cursed her luck. She would be walking home in the rain. Again.
‘What would you like to have?’ she handed him the menu but he didn’t pick it only grumbling Kahawa tungu (bitter coffee). He didn’t turn to face her. Neema wondered why he was grumpy, he didn’t even acknowledge her. she thought they shared a connection the last time he was there but then again she might have made all that up in her head.
‘Anything else?’ she rudely asked him, forgetting her the hard instilled manners Ma. Zainab had bashed into her head.
Jabali raised his eyes at her tone, his dark eyes boring into her, Neema felt butterflies in her stomach, ‘No, nothing else,’
She didn’t reply and turned to go back to the kitchen. To her chagrin Lulu had also left, her coat was uncharacteristically missing from the hanger and her work uniform was present. Neema had been left alone with Jabali.
After pouring the hot piping coffee into a mug, she took his order to him.
‘Enjoy,’ he didn’t acknowledge her again and Neema went back and took her seat at the cashier table, calculating her math. She completely ignored him just like he was ignoring her.
Ten antagonizing minutes later with her unable to concentrate on what she was doing, she looked up to see him looking towards her. Their gazes clashed and she looked aside. He stood up his chair scraping the rough floor and came towards her.
Neema felt her heart beating so hard on her chest, waiting with anticipation. Waiting for something she didn’t know she would get.
He handed her another crisp new note, ‘keep change,’ he grumbled and turned to walk out. Neema felt disappointed. Maybe she should say something to make him talk to her.
Read " The Dancing Bride And Her Spirit Warrior " by the same author ( Razia Iminza )
. she felt at lose sitting there watching him walk out. But what would she talk about? She was a small-town girl and he was the learned son of the opulent Mzee Kasri.
She sighed in disappointment and decided to focus on closing for the day. She had no business drooling after Jabali. If Naiti got a sniff that she was near him, he would scold her.
‘What time do you close?’ his deep voice cut the noise in her head. He had come back standing in front of her at the cashier desk.
‘Um…now,’ Neema mumbled. She could not believe he was talking to her.
‘How do you get home?’ he asked again scowling at her and Neema wondered why he was asking her questions.
‘I take a boda (motorcycle),’ she answered unsure where the whole questions were leading to.
‘It is not safe for a girl to be taking a boda at night. I will be dropping you home,’ he turned and walked away leaving her staring back at him. He paused at the front door and looked back.
‘I will be out front, don’t keep me waiting,’ he threw the hood of his sweater on top of his head and walked into the drizzling rain.
Neema could only gape at his wide back disappearing through the front door.
So guys, my laptop crashed and the interet connection was very poor.
I am very mad at myself but much more at the situation. i couldnt write for days and upload. I am very sorry for the delay. Bear with me.
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