Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season Two, Episode 17

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This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series Enemy Circles - Season Two

Jomo, a young nomadic man was betrothed to a fellow clan’s girl, Bonajo, and they were to be married during the merriment of reuniting at the designated reunion camp in mountains of central Africa. Unfortunately, a huge war campaign was to prevent that simple thing from happening until after more than three years.

PLAYING WITH FIRE

Read from the first episode

Agnes, the blond beauty in the harem, was more than disturbed, to say the least, about what was about to happened. She very well knew that, when Moalama, chose a woman it was like a permanent ticket to being the king’s favourite. When she was brought from Constantinople she was instantly chosen by the eunuch, the fact that put her at the front line of rivalry with Djamila, the Arab and Torilla, the Portuguese. She mastered the art of living in a harem, as the al-Badi Harem in Marrakech was not her first. In fact, she was born in the harem of Istanbul by a Slavic mother.

Her father was the Turk king of the Ottoman Empire. Another additional advantage she had was that she knew the Maghreb King for almost eight years during his stay in Istanbul, after he and his brother fled their other brother when he overtook the throne of the kingdom. It was the caliph’s plan that she would be his queen on the death of his brother and his resumption of the throne, which, with her father’s help, happened as was planned. Agnes was happy with those plans and her mother more than prepared her for the task ahead, of being a good queen. However, on her grandeur arrival at Marrakech palace after the king resumed the throne, she found out that he had already taken an Arab wife.

She ached and was heartbroken for a while. The diplomatic al Rashid on the other hand treated her with so much respect and adoration that at a point she believed he loved her more than the queen. Moalama, too, practically worshipped her with attention. It made her believed it was the king’s commands that she should be treated so. She never had any problem, except that she was not the queen as it was planned.

Now, after spending a number of years with the king and in the harem, she came to understand two things: one, the king was lavishing her with attention to maintain his relationship with the Ottoman Empire. Now having stronger European allies, and the Ottoman caliphs becoming weak, the king abandoned the Ottoman Empire along with her.

Two, Moalama saw all the women in the harem as his dolls along and always wanted to play with different races and traits. She believed it so, because when she arrived at the palace she was the only blond with European features in the harem. Perhaps the eunuch, on his side, believed that it was his mastery in women selection and beautification that enchanted the king towards her. With these two realizations all her dreams were shattered into more pieces than the abundant sand grains in the great Sahara.

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As time went by, Torilla took her place. Now that the king made more powerful allies in the west, he didn’t seemed keen to please the Ottoman empire, and hence Agnes.

Enemy Circles on Memorila
Enemy Circles on Memorila

Torilla’s bloom was shortlived too, when Djamila made her entry. Hers was even shorter by virtue of the fact that she was already older than the rest of them when she was given to the king along as a token of goodwill by the Saudi kings. With the beginning of the Songhai war and other diplomatic affairs overseen by the king, he became so busy that even the queen lady rarely saw him these days. The harem became quiet throughout the war with Songhai, with not as much to do as relaxation and petty bickering. The upcoming music event was understandably creating an unusual excitement.

Agnes was all along planning a strategy to win her way back with king al Rashid as his army advanced into Songhai. Now that new lands were conquered I may be assigned a queen of one of such lands, she thought, as she stood in front of her mirror dressing for the occasion.

She stared at herself. She knew that she was beautiful, no doubt. Her azure blue eyes were enchanting. She knew that she had the most beautiful skin tone in the harem – the fairer the better, her mother would always say. She knew that Djamila had been driving herself crazy with the futile efforts of attaining similar translucent skin sensuality of hers. That information was gathered by her spy-maid – Haggar. Agnes smiled at her reflection, having pride in her race.

How wonderful it would be to be a queen? With a palace built for her and maidens and servants to command around. Agnes resolved to fulfil her dream of becoming a queen by doing whatever it takes. She learnt that the Songhai Empire was more than fifty times larger than the Maghreb; she knew that assigning a small portion of the land for her to govern will not be too much to ask from the king, if she was in the right position with the right favour. But, first she had to claim his attention before she could hope of making as little as such a request. The king was expected next month; she felt now is the time to start the project. She decided to launch her strategy by first getting close to Moalama. The mirror reflection of her face contorted with that thought.

Moalama! The zombie all of a sudden hit her plans hard, by choosing the black slave girl as the woman that the king would apparently have in his bed on his arrival and Agnes’ plan was taken aback. Regarding what is at stake she decided to make Moalama change his mind by surprising him with her charms at the music listening evening. She knew there was no stopping at her plans, and if she did what needed to be done right, Moalama would soon be on her team. He couldn’t resist her charms before, he sure would not this time that she knew what captivated him, she told herself.

Agnes touched the soft satiny dress lying on the bed. This is what would have to get the job done tonight. She told herself solemnly in a hypnotized whisper. She was nervous even though she intensified preparing for the big day thirty days since the drama that ensued after Moalama publicly chose the black girl.

What she did was to further lighten her blond hair and skin tone to emphasise the milky tone in the evening light. She spent extensively long hours in her milk bath to enhance her translucent skin. All these she succeeded, and now looking again at her image in the mirror she smiled with satisfaction. She slipped on the dress.

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The white satiny dress lushly flowed around her curves, doing very little to cover her perfectly shaped legs and complimented her skin and hair colour, giving her a bright angelic allure. The low cut neck of the dress with the aid of a tight bodice provided a clear view of her fair breast mounds. Sparkling diamond earrings and small Byzantium silver tiara perfected her dressing. Moalama will not resist my Scandinavian beauty.

As an afterthought, Agnes put on a diamond studded silver girdle, remembering her mother’s words – the last accessory is often the highlight of a perfect outfit.

***

Djamila was less enthusiastic about the whole music evening. She was certain however that some excitement was going to happen. When the black girl, as she and others began calling Bonajo, was nowhere to be spotted within the last thirty days, she knew what was happening – beautification. She sent spies upon spies to find out how the beautification session was going on, and she was happy to gather that there was nothing to worry about. Still yet, the fact that she is going to graduate as a concubine on the music evening was embarrassing enough.

Djamila accused Moalama several times while discussing with other low ranking concubines that treated her with respect as a senior, or even her maids when doing such gave her solace. She couldn’t find justification for his action of taking a lowly black ignorant girl closer to an Arab king. What if such union produces a child? God forbid! That would be a disaster.

Today was going to be the time. The black girl would make her first appearance. Djamila laughed secretly at the absurdity that was going to be. She knew Agnes was one large bottle of fury for being a competitor to someone black and ugly as the black girl. May be that was the excitement she was expecting. Or maybe it was Torilla’s reaction she longed to see.

While Djamila was not extraordinarily beautiful even among her Arab race, she has grace, poise and oratory, which she always made sure was emphasized. Also, many of the times she played the superiority card to cover her shortcomings. She could tell that Torilla was begging to unravel her mystery.

She and Torilla were not best of friends, but they were not enemies either. They occasionally talked about the harem gossips – even secretly consult a gypsy woman at the Marrakech markets sometime in the past, about their futures. More than often, however, they clashed over the smallest misunderstandings, which they would later make up for and forge ahead. As Djamila came from the Arab kingdom of Saudi, she regarded all other people as inferior to the Arab blood. It was a huge surprise that she and Torilla could become friends, because Torilla too was proud of being a Portuguese, claiming they were the pure blood and world famous sea conquerors.

After the event with Bonajo thirty days ago, the duo seemed to join forces in tackling the issue. Djamila was more concerned about the future of the future palace. She was troubled that a child from the black girl would be a catastrophe future if by any chance he gets near the throne. Torilla brushed her troubles as baseless. She believed the chance of such happening was one in a thousand. She scolded Djamila for her racist allusions later on, when the true understanding of her idea of throne purification of Arab blood dawned on her. They quarrelled and never talked ever since.

Today however, Djamila decided to pay a visit to Torilla’s boudoir and interest her with the latest gathered gossip by her personal maids. Torilla couldn’t help but show her interest.

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“Torilla-the-Portuguese, how comes you didn’t know that the queen herself is coming to the music? It is not unexpected though, you hardly learn about anything that happens around this place.” Djamila soon began, after exchanging pleasantries with her host.

Torilla looked at Djamila with green eyes like the sea of Gibraltar. She could pick sarcasm in the woman’s tone, but decided to discard it for later. She needed to know everything the woman pretended she knew. She was having sleepless nights about Bonajo becoming a concubine in the harem. And that is the person whose story she was interested in, not some unpopular queen.

Por favor! The queen has not been involved in anything lately. I was told she either was pregnant or depressed or both.” Torilla said, being careful not to display her lack of information – a situation that would put her at a position lower than her co-concubine intellectually, and something the latter would give gold to attain.

Djamila laughed with such theatrics that made Torilla rolled her eyes heavens-ward.

“You didn’t really believe that, now did you? Well I mean if it is true I would know for sure.” Djamila said all-knowingly.

Torilla was losing her patience with the actress. Djamila’s best weapon was her acting skills and carefully tailored words. She could convince almost anyone with her acts and pretences. Like now, she was hearing this gossip Torilla told her for the first time, and was trying to brush it aside as non-true because she was not the one who brought it up. Torilla was glad at least the Arab witch was ignorant about events in the palace.

“OK, what other news did you say you have?” Torilla said with annoyance, as she beckoned to her personal maid to help her get dressed for the evening music event.

The maid brought out the maroon sequin gown, but hugged it protectively to her bosom, casting sidelong glares at Djamila’s direction. Her lady should not let the cunning Arab woman see her dress. She was sure that’s what brought her to Torilla’s boudoir at that jiffy. Djamila looked at the gown with that sly smile fixed on her perfect mouth.

“Well, I was saying the black girl was given a boudoir and chest of jewels heavier than yours and mine combined.” She said, feigning surprise. “Isn’t that unexpected of Moalama to think that goat can make a fine lady?”

Torilla’s patience snapped.

“No, you weren’t saying that. And by God we all know that, Djamila. That is not headline news anymore. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to ready myself for the evening. I am sure you have a similar thing to do.” With that she put her hands on her hips, waiting for Djamila to start leaving.

The maid let out a faint smirk of satisfaction with her lady. Djamila looked at the two, never losing her theatrical smile.

“Yes, yes, you are right I have that to do, and gosh, going through all that lot of effort especially…”

“Enough, Djamila. Just get out!” Torilla screamed, her hair tussled wildly as she shook her head.

Djamila widened her smile and moved to the door with calculated steps. She lifted the curtain, then turned and said.

“Nice gown by the way.” She popped the curtains with exaggerated gestures of formality and walked out. This event is going to be everything the word joke means, Djamila mused cheerfully.

Continue reading here>>

Series Navigation<< Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season Two, Episode 16Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 18 >>

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Bashir Kabir

Born, raised and studied in Kano State, Bashir Kabir has a degree in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Physics, all in Bayero University, Kano. He is married with a kid and currently works at Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Kano.

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