- Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season Two, Episode 15
- Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season Two, Episode 16
- Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season Two, Episode 17
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 18
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 19
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 20
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 21
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 22
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 23
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 24
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 25
- Enemy Circles – Season Two, Episode 26 – Finale
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.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END
Agnes yawned and stretched amongst the silk linen of her sumptuous bed. It was the kind of beautiful happy morning she would want to do nothing but spend the rest of the day lying down on the bed, awake, without having to ever leave it. On days like these, she had pleasant memories to recall and replay in her head, enjoying every string of it. Yesterday was very interesting, the event was spectacular, and she knew she was a significant part of what made it that amazing. She gathered from her maid that a lot of the society ladies were asking about her outfit. That was not at all unexpected, it was a sure thing she was an important highlight of the event.
Faint noises of maids hurrying about to provide their ladies with their needs poured inside the Byzantium decorated boudoir in company of insistent rays of light that escaped through the thick curtains. Agnes wondered where the Moorish girl was at the moment; whether she was awake and bragging and boosting about her success last night. It was a good thing that she was among the first friends the now famous Moorish girl came to make: keep your friends close and your enemies even closer, her mother would say in her non-ceasing lessons when she was preparing Agnes into being the queen of some land someday.
Agnes grimaced at that disappointment. She believed she was born a queen, of course. With the help of her mother’s confidence boosters she developed the attitude and set her mind in that direction. She also remembered that her mother used to say ‘If God gives you ginger, make ginger ale’. Now this is what she had and she would make the best out of it. To begin with, she needed Moalama on her side as a trusted friend. She knew if there was any bridge to connect her to the success of her plans, it was that sneaky freak of a man, and what easier way to get to him than the now famous Moor girl. That was an opportunity she wasn’t going to play with, even if it meant bringing herself down to befriend the black girl.
But God, she was perfectly put together last night, Agnes thought, as she put her legs down and stared at her own outfit, carefully laid in a chest. No doubt the Moor girl caught so much attention, even though it could be curiosity of the unfamiliar by people, rather than because of the girl’s genuine beauty. A black girl would never be beautiful enough to compete with the likes of her, it was certain, anywhere in the world. It has to be so – curiosity. She remembered casting a similar awe during her first days in the palace. That could be different, though, I am a genuine beauty, she dismissed.
“My lady, would you take your bath now?” Haggar, Agnes’ trusted maid, asked as she breezed into the room and began opening the windows for fresh air to flow in.
Agnes was not sure she wanted to do that right now, all she knew was that she could do without Haggar for now. Everything was going on as she planned, but she needed more ideas for it, so she needed more time alone.
“No Haggar, leave those curtains alone, not now. Just go and leave me for a while.” Agnes said, returning back to the comfort of her bed, watching and waiting for her maid to make a quick leave.
Haggar started folding the evening dress, obviously reluctant to leave in haste. An idea flashed inside Agnes’s mind. “Haggar I want you to wash that dress and take it to Von Edge.”
Haggar asked, confused by both the decision to give away her lady’s number one dress that was certainly one of the latest top fashion besides the black concubine’s own after last night, and even more confused at the stranger with a strange name to whom the dress was sacrificed easily to.
“Damn! I can never pronounce these awful names correctly…” Agnes complained, scratching her bed-dishevelled hair. “…The Moorish concubine.”
Haggar was more perplexed now. “May I ask why, my lady?” She asked carefully.
“No, you may not.” Agnes rose from the bed.
“You will know why when you need to know. Now fill my tub, put all my oils and salts, I changed my mind about not wanting to take bath now. And get what I asked of you done afterwards.”
Life had never been like this before. Bonajo’s concept of living lavishly was an understatement of what she was experiencing now – not even a near guess. She could wear the most intricate gold in existence; she eats the freshest and choicest food in the market, while she practically did nothing but sleep and rest. Moalama rained attention on her like she was the princess of all princesses in the world. The speed with which she learnt Arabic since she went into beautification amazed him, though she was far from fluent, but she was communicable the best way possible.
Sitting at her favourite spot – the fountain at the centre of the harem’s court yard, Bonajo’s mind was reeling thousands of memories about her life before she came here. She was not thinking much about last night; it was not something she would love to have to do again. No amount of parties and fancy dresses would make life in the harem more beautiful than the one she knew back with her people, and certainly not the fake friendship she was experiencing after last night.
She was surprised that at first some low ranking concubines wanted to be friends with her. Harem politics: explained Jango. Before, the harem was always to her like a prison she had to endure with little or no friends at all. She thought everyone there would look at her as an outcast for all sorts of reasons; ranging from her skin complexion, lack of Arabic language and recently her being ridiculously chosen by the chief eunuch as a concubine. She was wrong.
They never stopped trying to smile in her direction. She chose to ignore such friendly gestures, being careful not to expose her vulnerable self to what such gesture might drive her into. By instinct, when she first arrived here, she knew she couldn’t trust anybody within the walls of the palace, but now she had Jango, whom she got to learn from that he had inherited slavery from his parents. And on his fifteenth birthday, Moalama decided he should join his crew of apprentice eunuchs, and that meant he must give up his manhood against his will and be castrated. Sad stories and experiences atop common skin complexion brought them closer like the friends of a long time ago.
Bonajo felt obliged to share her own story with this only friend, but part of her restrained her from continuing talking about her past, knowing very well that Jango would never understand her yearn for freedom, when all he talked about was his ambition of becoming a chief eunuch someday. She was distrustful of opening up to anyone, after seeing how Jango was committed to his job, and naively thought she would grow to forget her past and embrace his promised future. He would tell her to accept her fate and consider it a promising careering. Now that last night turned out in his favour, he had more reasons to encourage her to throw away her past. She would feel disgusted by him suggesting she should be happy being the king’s whore, and that would spoil their cosy friendship. She chose not to say anything. For the same reasons she didn’t want to encourage the smiles she occasionally saw on the harem women’s faces. They couldn’t be trusted – no one could be.
A girl in plain clothes exaggerated a smile in Bonajo’s direction. Bonajo looked at her blandly and looked away. The girl’s smile dissipated like a snow on a hot frying pan and quickly hurried in the opposite direction. Bonajo hissed, squeezing her nose in contempt, wishing she didn’t have to put up with fake friendships every day of her life. She wished she was on those nice mountains in central Africa, getting married amidst lush green grasses with the air filled with cow mooing and damp dew from the overhanging clouds. Instead of being here in the extreme North Africa in a stone palace, in the middle of superficial women with fake personalities, with every modern luxury she would ever hope and dream of having, except she now wondered if she even wanted such things in the first place. She would rather tend to cows and hang out with her friends. How she missed Marra, a person she can genuinely call a friend.
Jango, she could call a friend for several other reasons, but that fair lady who was bold enough to come to her during the event was something else she would figure out. Even though the woman was not as mean as the rest of the harem seniors, she was one of them and if she could survive the wrangling of the harem life, it could only mean that she too played their games, whatever that was. The woman had been friendly at the music event and Bonajo knew at that moment that it was not the end. She was surprised to receive the gift of her dress the following morning. Bonajo was happy, though, with the gift, and didn’t spend another minute after the delivery maid left before she tried it on. After her excitement of the flamboyant dress wore off, she rearmed herself with her guard, knowing very well that receiving the gift haven’t made the giver a friend yet. What if the fair lady wanted something in return? Maybe my dress.
She cared less. Today was cool, the breezy Mediterranean air cooled down the heat that accumulated during the day by the hot desert waves. By the fountain side, her favourite spot besides her personal rooms was even cooler at this hour of the evening. Jango was assigned some task by Moalama and she was all by herself. Since she sat down more than an hour had passed and she counted glares and smiles that nearly balanced each other. Although many low ranking nonentities were trying to catch her attention, the harem seniors kept their distances and maintained their scolds. The queen; she never saw her and had no wish of seeing again.
Bonajo heard the music of the greeting that was a woman’s voice standing very close to her. Another fake friendship; this one must be intrepid enough to come in person. She refused to look in the way of the woman or even acknowledge her presence.
Jango insisted that she should be coming out of her boudoir and socialize with the rest of the harem otherwise she would be thought of as a timid and scared little girl. Being scared of the life in the harem she was, but scared of the women, never. Socializing with those was the last thing on her agenda. But she knew that she couldn’t lock herself in her boudoir all the time. She came out to watch the harem drama while she enjoyed the fountain breeze. Today was not any different; since she sat down she witnessed more than five quarrels in a row. But the last thing she wanted was to have a conversation with anybody, and certainly not with this person pushing her luck hard, by greeting her in person.
“Von Edge, how are you?” the voice repeated
Bonajo could hear her name mispronounced, she didn’t care what was said afterwards. “You know if you really could not pronounce my name well it would be nice and gentle if you try not to. You never know, I may be offended.” Bonajo continued to look away.
The woman walked around and came face to face with Bonajo – it was Agnes the European.
Bonajo felt like she stole from the queen’s purse. She knew she couldn’t treat a high ranking concubine like Agnes the way she did. Especially with all her gestures of goodwill, and her best dress gift, even if they were fake, which she was sure they were and didn’t care.
“I meant you no harm, you know that” Agnes said, still smiling, seeing Bonajo’s discomfort.
“I didn’t mean it as an insult. But if you are offended please accept my apologies.” She paused, her angelic smile never leaving her translucent face.
Bonajo could only smile back at such soft friendliness. “I am sorry my lady, I thought it was somebody else.”
Agnes took that as an invitation and sat on the fountain next to Bonajo’s cushion. “Your Arabic is remarkable, I must say I am impressed with how you could elaborately say what you said. And please, you don’t have to courtesy.” Agnes paused, as she settled down comfortably. “When I first came here the language sounded like an impossible task to learn. Think about it, how could anyone understand a language if it has to come from people like Moalama?”
They both laughed heartily. Agnes was right, Moalama intentionally made his articulation more bizarre than it should be, Bonajo thought.
“I must say I find it easy.” Bonajo screwed her face up again, remembering she didn’t invite Agnes to sit with her and freely trade jokes. What if she is after something?
“But then I have some basics of the language as a Muslim.” She wondered if Agnes was even a Muslim and not a captive from some Christian land Maghreb conquered.
“I can see, it is not the only thing you find easy.” Agnes widened her smiles, seeing that she was getting Bonajo’s attention with her humours. When Bonajo said nothing, she continued. “Everybody is talking about your pride, you were stunning, displaying it at the event the way you did.” Agnes added
Bonajo looked at Agnes. “I am not, because I didn’t inherit it. In fact I am seeing pride the way you described here for the first time in my life, and I don’t even understand the need for it in someone’s life.”
“Pride is a good thing, you know.” Agnes quickly changed the tone of her voice, sounding apologetic. “We all want to have it, it makes a lady more charming and helps enhance her poise. It is what we spend our whole lives trying to perfect ourselves in the art.”
“What a life!” Bonajo said with enough dose of sarcasm, using her fingers to rake her bushy hair, creating more volume. “ I still don’t know what that is, or the need for it in one’s life.”
Agnes decided to let that slide. “I never thought Moorish hair could look beautiful naturally.” Agnes said; not failing in the effort of concretizing her conversation with Bonajo.
Bonajo adjusted her position properly on the small tasselled cushion. “Your problem is you people don’t even know us, but you’re too arrogant to admit that. How many black tribes do you know; their differences, their ways of life or their ethnography, huh? There are more than a thousand but I don’t think you know that. Though you have informed me that arrogance is a good thing, I am sure it will mean that one can still pretend to know what he doesn’t, so as to enhance one’s image…oh wait, was it poise in the eyes of the people?”
“No, I didn’t say that.” Agnes laughed nervously.
“Anyway, for starters I’m not Moorish, may be Jango is. I don’t know what a Moor looks like.” Bonajo continued lecturing Agnes, seeing that the woman was ridiculously sweating to please her. “I am a Fulani, which I don’t suppose you know of, too. You see, bilad as sudan is a vast continent in terms of culture and languages, they distinctively are so different from one another that sometimes the only similarities between two tribes living within a mile is the dark skin. Religion may bring two tribes together or trade or war, but each has its own history, culture and norms.”
Agnes only looked blandly.
Bonajo finished her speech, throwing her hands on her laps with flat sounds at the helplessness of tutoring Agnes. What was she expecting; they were seen as a backward race. Who would care to document anything about them for the sake of a concubine like Agnes, whose interest was not in learning any knowledge about black people, but pretending she knew everything for the sake of whatever reason she was here for?
“Von Edge, relax, am not trying to pretend like I know you totally as you put it, but rather I would be glad if we become friends and you give me the privilege of doing that gradually. I am sure your tribe is an interesting one. I can see it in your attitude and traits and beliefs.”
Bonajo looked at the pristine face in front of her. Agnes was the softest human female she had ever seen. Her words of interest in knowing more about Bonajo’s tribe were kindhearted too. This woman couldn’t be harmful in anyway.
“OK.” Bonajo smiled sincerely. “By the way, thank you so much for the dress, I really loved it”.
Agnes smiled back, triumphantly. One very crucial step towards her plot had been accomplished.