Jabali's Redemption - Episode 9
‘How come you are always here almost all evenings?’ Jabali asked Aluvisa who was sprawled on his sofa set at his town house, ‘don’t you have somewhere else you have to be?’ he knocked Aluvisa’s feet off his coffee table.
‘If I don’t come to see you Jabali, you will die a recluse. I am the only friend you have, so enjoy me while it lasts,’ Aluvisa smirked at his scowling face.
‘You must be in a good mood if you are listening to reggae music again . I thought you didn’t like it anymore,’
Jabali sighed, ’you are so invested in my life Aluvisa, stop it.’ He sat on a lone chair and picked up a remote flicking through the television picking on something to watch. Aluvisa watched him in amazement.
Jabali could feel his friend’s gaze on him, ‘what?’
‘Jabali what is happening to you? You don’t watch TV. All you do is work, work and work.’
‘So I can’t even watch my own T.V in peace? Good lord Aluvisa, when did you turn into a nagging woman?’
‘The day you turned into a complete different person,’ Aluvisa answered smartly, ‘is this because your old flame is back in town?’
‘Neema is not an old flame…’ Jabali trailed off after realizing his mistake.
‘Aha I didn’t say anything about Neema,’ Aluvisa laughed triumphantly, ‘tell me Jabali are you going to rekindle, the relationship between you two?’
‘That is none of your business,’ Jabali picked up the remote again and turned back to the huge T.V on the wall and completely ignored his friend raucous laughter.
After the laughter had died down Aluvisa turned serious,’ Jabali something is happening in the office I thought you should know,’
‘What?’ Jabali perked his ears.
‘Mzee Kisiki is selling his shares and currently looking for the highest buyer among other board members,’
‘How is it possible I don’t know anything about it?’ Jabali shot up from the chair dumping his remote on the plush chair he was seated on. Mzee Kisiki was an old man who had a lot of shares in the company, it was very important that Jabali knew who was going to buy then
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. Currently he was the biggest shareholder and the foremost decision maker in the company. If someone else had the large number of shares then that would mean, Jabali’s position in the company would be challenged.
Mzee Kisiki hated Jabali. It was obvious in the board meetings how many times he opposed everything Jabali did. He never accepted Jabali to take over the Director’s General position after the passing of Mzee Kasri, Jabali’s father. He claimed that Jabali was too young and inexperienced to operate such a huge task. No matter how much Jabali had proved over and over how much capable he was. He had practically saved the company from being bankrupt. How much did he want him to prove himself? Jabali thought bitterly. To make it worse Mzee Kisiki was not the only one, several other older men in the board felt the same way. Now that he had decided to sell his shares and stepping out of the board, he decided to take Jabali with him, Jabali grinded his teeth in anger.
‘Hey don’t be mad at me. I knew it a couple of days ago, now if you will listen to me, I will tell you who the buyer is,’
‘Who?’ Jabali nearly picked up Aluvisa and shook him to get him to speak faster.
‘Mzee Okumu’s son, Akila Okumu, the newest board member,’
‘No, that can’t happen Aluvisa; we have to buy those shares. Quickly,’ Jabali picked up his phone from the coffee table tapping rapidly on it.
‘Yes,’ Aluvisa agreed, nodding his head, ‘we have to be quick. If Akila buys those shares, he would have the same power as you. He might even challenge your position,’
‘That can’t happen. I have worked so hard to maintain this post. I will not end up like my father,’ Jabali spat bitterly when he stopped tapping on his phone momentarily, a faraway look on his eyes.
‘You are nothing like your father Jabali, but some board members don’t see it that way. Mzee Wanyama thinks you will end up like your old man and he will be waiting for a moment like this to cut you down. He will most definitely support new blood, that is Akila,’ Mzee Wanyama was another member of Anti-Jabali Team.
‘I thought Akila is just a playboy who came to take his father’s place. I never thought he would be this shrewd,’ Jabali’s jaw ticked in exasperation, he had clearly underestimated the man. ‘That will not happen again. Mark my words Aluvisa,’ Jabali picked his ringing phone and stalked out to the balcony, already in action.
Neema’s phone vibrated again on the dressing table cutting her sleep short. She ignored it being sure it was the same private number that had been calling her for throughout the weekend but whenever she picked the call; nobody spoke on the phone, only silence.
She burrowed her head deeper into the pillow ignoring the insistent blaring.
Brrr…brrrr the phone went on and Neema grew furious. She reached for it preparing to give the caller a piece of her mind. Without opening her eyes, she screamed at it,
‘Leave me alone or else I will report you to the police, you demented lunatic,’
A pause then, ‘demented lunatic, hmmm. I have never been called that before,’ Jabali’s smooth baritone had Neema shooting up from bed and nearly falling on the floor with the sheets entangled on her legs.
‘Jabali…’ her voice came out croaked.
‘See you in the office in the next ten minutes,’ a curt response and the call ended.
Just then her mama came in running, ‘Neema, why are you shouting so early in the morning,’
Neema placed her phone on the table, ‘it is Jabali…’ she was still perplexed.
Her mama raised her eyebrows, ‘you were shouting at your boss?’
‘No mama, I thought it was someone else but I didn’t know it was Jabali,’ her mama looked at her even more confused. ‘Don’t worry about it, let me prepare for the office. Where is Ngao?’
‘He already left for school. He will be fine. The teachers promised to keep an eye on him. They know he is notorious,’
Neema nodded and walked over to the one bathroom inside the three bed roomed house. If there was anything their good for nothing father had done was building them a large house. When Mzee Kadiri was sober, he had bought land for the family in Tembo town and settled his family there. Many town developers had approached her mama with offers to buy the land off her but her mama was reluctant. She claimed that her husband might be alive and he would be lost if he came and found out that the family had moved. Neema didn’t understand the logic behind that. To her, her father was a dead man or else he would have already found his way back to them. He chose his liquor and ignored his family; he didn’t deserve her mama’s loyalty.
‘I will prepare some breakfast for you before I leave for the market,’ her mama was a grocery vendor in the local market.
‘Shukran, (thank you) mama.’
Neema decided to hurry she didn’t want to make Jabali angry at her on her first in the company.
‘Why do you look so jittery,’ Lulu questioned Neema who was busy looking at the clock and not wiping down the tables. It was almost nine o’clock at night and Neema feared she would come face to face with Jabali whom she had been avoiding for the past one week. After her conversation with Naiti about Jabali, she had changed her schedule and Lulu covered for her for the last one hour in the evening. Lulu was godsend, she understood Neema’s situation quickly and agreed to cover up for her so that Ma. Zainab wouldn’t tell. The arrangement had worked out perfectly until now. They had a lot of customers that night and Neema didn’t find a way to sneak out of the restaurant.
‘You know he asked for your phone number but I didn’t give it to him,’ Lulu continued, rubbing a stubborn stain off. Neema swallowed the hurt felt. To sum it up, she missed Jabali. She missed him so much that her heart ached. She couldn’t fault Lulu for not giving Jabali her contacts because; Neema was the one who asked her not to. Neema had sneaking feeling Jabali had somehow managed to access her number, her phone kept ringing with a new number but she never picked. So scared of finding out it was him calling. It was a coward way out but also necessary.
‘You could at least call him back, he left his number with me,’ Lulu suggested resting her hand on her waist, leaning against a table. A few patrons were still in the restaurant drinking coffee and tea to ward off the cool evening. Every time the door of the hotel chimed, Neema’s heart beat fast expecting it to be Jabali but he never appeared. Neema kept expecting him to come in the day but he only appeared at night. If he was interested in her why didn’t he come in the day? She asked herself. Naiti was right, Jabali didn’t have clear intentions with her, she had concluded but that didn’t stop her from missing him, his silent demeanor.
‘I can’t Lulu…i…’ Neema trailed off not knowing what to tell her friend. Was it normal to get attached to someone after such a short time? Neema wondered. She was also not confident that she could have a relationship with Jabali. The idea seemed far-fetched and looked like a recipe for a big disaster.
‘You know what Neema, you don’t have to follow everything Naiti says. Just because he has a grudge with Jabali doesn’t mean he should drag you in it too,’ Lulu looked at her directly, ‘Naiti can’t come between true love,’ Lulu finished the sentence in a low tone as if she was speaking to herself. Neema had to strain for a bit to listen.
Neema scoffed, ‘true love? As if such a thing exists,’
‘It exists Neema,’ Lulu insisted frowning at her friend.
‘Have you been in love?’ Neema paused and Lulu turned back on the table biting her lower lip.
‘I thought so,’ Neema laughed at her friend, ‘you are all talk but no action. You can’t talk about a love that you haven’t yet experienced,’
‘But I have,’ Lulu blurted out but quickly covered her mouth with the back of her hand. Neema’s eyes grew large and wondered if her bosom friend was speaking the truth.
‘You are in love? But…you don’t even have a boyfriend,’ Neema couldn’t believe it, Lulu had to be lying.
‘You are in so much denial Neema that you can’t even see it,’ Lulu ignored her friend’s question, ‘you are here mopping around because you haven’t seen Jabali for a week and you think you are not in love?’
‘That is not…’ Neema wondered why Lulu was changing the topic, they were not talking about her relationship with Jabali but Lulu’s.
Lulu didn’t wait for an answer she turned and disappeared into the kitchen. Neema wondered if she had hurt her by her words. Maybe she was too harsh?
The door chimed while she was having the monologue inside her head and as if programmed, her head swiveled towards the entrance only for her searching gaze to collide with Jabali Kasri. The object of her desires.
Her hungry gaze quickly scanned him as she watched him with abated breath.
He is here, she couldn’t believe it. Her heart beat fast as she watched him standing there, locking her gaze with her’s. The whole room fade into a distance drone.
He had a stubble that was always absent, his eyes had lost the usual sharpness and under the bright lights of the restaurant, Neema could see that he had not slept well. He looked tired and roughed up.
Then he was standing before her, she hadn’t seen or heard him approach. He didn’t speak a word as he stood before her. His ardent gaze on her, now that he was near, Neema could see all the emotions there, anger, relief, passion and something else she didn’t want to divulge in.
Without a word, he pulled her by the wrist and started walking towards the front door. That snapped Neema from her reverie.
‘Jabali what are you doing?’ she tried to pull her wrist from his hold but he held on and didn’t stop either. Neema felt her face burn with embarrassment when everyone in the restaurant turned and looked at them. Naiti was bound to hear about this.
Then they were out of the restaurant in no time and the cold air hit Neema strongly. Jabali didn’t stop until they had crossed the dusty car park to reach his jeep. He opened the door and carried her inside, Neema let out a surprised gasp,
‘What are you doing?’ she couldn’t believe he was manhandling her this way, Jabali deposited her inside the car and fastened the sit belt. His face set and rigid, he didn’t look at her nor blink an eye.
‘Jabali…’ her question was cut off when he shut the passenger’s door, narrowly missing her nose.
Jabali jogged to the driver’s door and jumped inside the car quickly firing the engine and jetting out if the car park. All this time Neema was turning the door knob an action which was proving futile. The door was tightly shut.
‘What are you doing?’ Neema shouted at him trying to unfasten the seat belt. Jabali kept his attention ahead and kept on driving, he didn’t spare her a glance. Neema could see his jaw ticking inside the dim lit vehicle. They were speeding out of town and Neema panicked seeing the dim street lights fading behind her. The boda assigned to drop her home would not find her at the restaurant and Naiti will be told that she was dragged away by Jabali. Neema didn’t have her phone to call anyone and explain her situation. She was in big trouble.
‘Jabali please…’ she begged him to stop the car but he didn’t, if anything he increased the speed.
Neema wondered if she was being kidnapped. Jabali was acting in a peculiar manner which she had never experienced before.
Read " The Dancing Bride And Her Spirit Warrior " by the same author ( Razia Iminza )
. Something inside her was telling her she was safe with him. Part of her heart was thrilled to see him again and a big part worried about the consequences of their meeting. With all the commotion caused by Jabali at the restaurant, Neema was sure her brother would hear of it.
Suddenly the jeep stopped outside a huge black gate surrounded by high walled fence. A high security light floored the area with light. Neema could hear a dog bark and looked out. They were in a quiet street lined with jacaranda trees. A few palm tree decorated the streets too.
‘Jabali where are we?’ Neema asked looking around. Not a sole was in sight.
‘My home.’ An answer, Neema didn’t think that he would give her. He seemed hell bent on ignoring her presence.
‘What am I doing at your home?’ her anxiety was rising again. Why did he bring her to his home? Did he think he could have her way with her? Naiti was right, maybe Jabali was only after her body.
He didn’t answer her question.
That renewed her fight to get out of the car.
‘Stop it you will only hurt yourself,’ Jabali admonished her, his voice smooth inside the dark vehicle but instead of the calming effect his voice always had on her, Neema felt the opposite.
‘Then tell me what am doing here?’ she nearly shouted at him, he smirked.
‘You are bound to find out,’
As if on cue, the gate opened and he drove the car inside. Neema nearly swallowed her tongue at Jabali’s words.
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