Chapter 8: Jabi

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Reads: 25
Comments: 2

 

Emissary Part 2

 

Chapter 8 Jabi

 

 

“What is the matter with you?” I asked Layla. 

 

I was sitting on the divan in the “Great Hall.” 

 

That was what we used to call it. “The Great Hall.” 

 

It wasn’t too great of a hall but the name had a ring to it. It was the main domed structure which used to house the temple of the goddess Minerva. We gathered in that room every afternoon after our work was done. Joel was sitting on one of the sofas while Mina occupied the other. As for Layla she just stood next to my seat, fidgeting left and right on her two feet.

 

“Sit down Layla,” I ordered, “You’re making me dizzy.”

 

“She can’t,” Mina replied on Layla’s behalf.

 

“Why can’t she?”

 

Mina giggled at the expense of her friend. “Because she was screwed,” she answered. 

 

“SHUT UP MINA.” Layla countered. “Don’t you dare tell him.”

 

“Then sit down,” I reiterated my command. 

 

“I can’t,” Layla replied. 

 

“Why the hell can’t you?”

 

“Because I can’t that’s all. Don’t you understand?! I physically can’t.”

 

I was confused. “Am I missing something here!?” I asked Joel who was trying to hide a grin with her hand. She was desperately trying not to burst out laughing. 

 

Joel leaned closer and whispered in my ear, “she can’t. She has been screwed by your personal bodyguard Jabi.”

 

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN SCREWED!?” I yelled that out.

 

“JOHN!” Joel berated. “Stop it. Can’t you see she is in pain?”

 

“Tell us Layla, Was he as good as you said he was?” Mina asked her friend ignoring my presence. When ladies chatter and they ignore the only man in the room then that man better shut up and listen. So I did.

 

Layla looked at me and sighed, “Ohhh!! Sister! You should have seen it. It was the biggest thing I have ever set my eyes upon. It could barely fit in my mouth. Ohhh!!! I tried, believe me, I tried. I could not even get my fingers around it. It was more than a foot long. I almost chocked as he pushed it down my throat.” She was explaining what they did in intimate details that I almost blushed myself. 

 

“I had to see how far this thing could go inside. Ohhh!!! I tied, believe me I tried. Unfortunately he barely managed to insert it half way before I almost passed out. I have never felt so much pain in my life! It was soooo....exhilarating,” she added. For Layla pleasure and pain were two interchangeable words. 

 

“May I ask what prompted that in the first place?” Joel addressed her apprentice. 

Layla’s voice was stern and confident as ever. “I have always wanted to see if what they say about people of his color was correct,” Layla tried to explain. 

 

“And?!?!?”

 

“Oooo…. Every single word of it… and I got the blood and pain to prove it,” Layla confirmed by fidgeting even more. She went on to describe how she did it. “I went to his room last night. At first he was a perfect gentleman,” she said. “Of course, I would not let anything as mundane as that distract me from my goal. I practically forced him on to me.”

 

“Well, You should not have forced him to DO IT back there, knowing how big he was,” Joel reprimanded. “He could have done a lot more damage.”

 

“Ohhh!!! Mistress!” Layla sighed again, “and deny myself the pleasures of the devil’s pain!?”

 

“Well, that devil’s pain could have torn you apart.” Joel expressed her concern. 

 

“Oooo I wish I was there with you,” Mina added. I was sure Mina was not going to let her friend have all the fun all to herself. I wondered what those two were going to do to Jabi’s devil when they get a hold of it. I pitied what my personal bodyguard life was going to be like in their hands. Poor man.

 

Speaking of the poor devil, Jabi-Ibn-Musa entered the great hall with Jaco. They were carrying one of the large chests that arrived from Cairo by ship a week earlier. We still had not emptied every box and barrel yet. There were so many. We had been working day and night to put everything in place. I asked Jabi to bring one particular chest into the great hall. He set it in the middle of the room and asked, “do you want me to open it?”

 

“Well, you seem to know how to open things up so, yes. Please do.”

 

“JOHN!” Joel snapped at me. 

 

I didn’t think Layla was capable of blushing. It was either that or she was so furious her cheeks started to turn red. Layla wasn’t a shy person when it came to matters of the flesh. I was surprised she even cared about my jab at Jabi. I felt there was something she had not told me. Joel certainly knew. It was her I had to worry about. 

 

Jaco excused himself and left the hall leaving the three lady friends and I, together with Jabi, to complete the task of emptying what was inside that chest. The wooden box was tightly sealed with metal screws and latches. It was greased on all sides to prevent moisture from seeping in. The people in Cairo did a thorough job securing those valuables inside. Jabi finally managed to open the box, as we gathered around him waiting to retrieve what was ours.

 

Oud and so did Mina. Joel snapped up her “” leaving Layla to retrieve the “Daff.”

 

Mina played a similar musical instrument like mine, only hers had a knife buried in its neck. Mine didn’t. I wasn’t too fond of those. They tend to weaken the short wooden handle which made tuning the strings more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, Mina was a good Oud player only she was a better killer.

 

Joel was a wizard in a great many musical instruments. She also played the Oud but she preferred the soft whistling sound of the Ney even more. I didn’t know if she used her Ney for any other purpose, I didn’t ask. As for Layla, she played a variety of drumming instruments. She used a as well as a exquisitely. Her Daffs where particularly unique especially those that had copper jingles around them. She could throw those knife edged circles with great accuracy from ten feet away.

 

Jabi sat on his knees looking at us in bewilderment. “I didn’t know you could all play music!” He said in surprise. 

 

Music was one of the main requirements at the missionary school in Cairo where we all had trained. Ours wasn’t your normal academy. Of course we learned languages, history, astronomy,… a great many subjects. However we were also trained to fight, to love, to kill, and of course to play music.

 

“What is so important about music?” The first question I asked mistress Maria when she handed me the Oud.

 

I remember she held hers on her knee and played a lively melody that I haven’t heard before. “What do you feel when you hear this tune John?” She asked. 

 

“I feel happy, like I want to dance.” I later learned it was an old Nubian piece of music that was played in the land of the Sudan. 

 

She switched tunes and played an entirely different melody that made me want to cry. 

 

“What about now?” Maria asked, “how does this one make you feel?”

 

“I feel sad like I want to cry.”

 

“This is the magic of Music. It is a universal language that speaks to the heart,” she explained. “Some say it is the first language ever communicated by man. It is the basic language of the universe. It is what unites humanity where ever they go in the world. If you are good at it you can project your feelings onto others without them realizin. This is the power of music.”

 

“Okay. I understand the power of music but why is it important for us soldiers?” I had to ask, “we are being trained to fight, so why do we have to know how to play music?”

 

“Music can open a great many doors for you John,” she said, “doors that could not possibly be opened otherwise, doors to a lover’s heart, doors into the halls of a king or a queen. You can also hide a weapon inside your , and if things really get bad you can even use your instrument as a weapon in itself. So you might as well enjoy playing it because you will always be carrying one with you where ever you go.” 

 

Every student at the school had to learn to play at least one musical instrument. Some were good at it, others managed to scrap by. I was given the Oud and was personally trained to play by mistress Maria herself. Unfortunately, I left it back in Cairo when I came to Rome. I should have followed the mistress instructions better.

 

Oud. Music always had a way of soothing my troubled soul. The was ever my trusted companion and it still is. I missed plucking its strings, strumming its chords before I slept. In my last letter to master Badr I asked him to send it to me. He must have flipped when he read all my requests. He should have known I was going to ask for it.

 

“I remember you told me you were a musician yourself,” I address Jabi. “What instrument do you play?” I asked.

 

“We have different kinds of instruments in Ghana than the ones you have here,” Jabi tried to explain. “My personal favorite is the Kora and I am also good with the Dunun.”

 

Dunun?”

 

“It is a sort of drum, similar to the one lady Layla is holding.” Jabi explained.

 

Dunun,” Layla interjected.

 

“I believe you already have, my dear,” I added.

 

“JOHN!” Joel snapped at me again. “Behave yourself!” 

 

It was Jabi’s turn to blush. Or at least that was what I thought he did. I was certain people with his dark black complexion could blush, but I couldn’t differentiate the shade. I assumed his eyes turning red was also an indication. I prayed I wasn’t wrong. But one thing for certain, he knew exactly what I was hinting at since he kept looking at Layla and blushing even more.

 

Kora? I have never heard of it before. Do you have it with you?” I tried to change the subject before Layla used those jingles of hers.

 

Kora is a traditional musical instrument in Ghana. It has 21 strings which are plucked with your fingers. It is similar to a harp,” he tried to explain. “I do have it with me, unfortunately people in Rome don’t want to listen to anything other than a harp or a lyre. Or maybe they don’t like the color of those fingers plucking it.” I remembered Jabi telling me he tried to seek employment as a musician in this city with no success. It was Rome’s loss and my gain. 

 

“What about you?” Jabi asked. “How good are you with the Oud?”

 

“Ooo… I dabble a little.” 

 

The ladies giggled. “Ooo…He dabbles a lot,” Joel added.

 

“Let’s hear it then.” Jabi sat cross legged on the floor and waited for me to tune my instrument before I began to play.

 

Oud sounded like, I urge you to listen to this. You will be mesmerized)

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjyObyuGg5c

 

 

 

 

By the time I finished playing everyone who was at a hearing distance heard the sound of my music; Gilbert and his wife Serena, Helena the house keeper and her children, the three so called guards, a dozen or more people who were temporarily working at the embassy. They all gathered in the great hall to see where that strange sound was coming from. 

 

“Wow!!! You are good,” Jabi said after I put down my Oud.

 

“He is great!” Layla corrected.

 

“I was hoping to see you play as well, my lady,” Jabi addressed Lyla as they both continued to blush together.

 

“I believe you already did,” was my final jab of the evening. I could not help myself.

 

“JOHN!” Joel snapped at me for the last time not caring if everyone in the hall heard her threats. “I swear I will shove my Nayy so deep up your ass, you’ll feel it all the way up your noise.” 

 

“Okay.. Okay.. I was just kidding.. Come on!!!… Can’t you see they are practically  asking for it?!” I replied with a smirk. Knowing Joel, she was always good with her promises. Besides, I wasn’t going to be too comfortable with that two foot long cane reed stuck up there. So I did what she asked. I stopped bothering Layla and Jabi. For now.

 

“I think you have an audience, your excellency,” Jabi finally said, pointing to all the people who had gathered inside the hall. “Do the ladies play as well as you do?” 

 

Of course Jabi was curious to know. His love for music was clear on his face. His eyes glittered with joy when he listened to it. I remember him telling me that his people were born with a musical soul. They loved to sing and dance. Music was all around them; in the trees, in the sound of the gushing rivers, in the whistling winds….It was in their blood. I made sure we did not disappoint him.

 

I looked at Joel and said with a smirk, “would you like to show my blushing personal bodyguard here your talents, my lady?” 

 

“Anything in particular you would like to hear my Lord?” Joel asked with a mocking curtsy and a smirk of her own.

 

“Surprise me, Mistress.”

 

All three ladies scrambled with delight. Joel began with her Ney, an introductory tune to captivate the audience, then Mina set her Oud on her thigh, while Lyla held the Daff (hand drums) in her hand and they all began to play. However when Joel began to sing, our hearts were all mesmerized by her angelic voice:

 

As she emerged swaying

Full of youth and beauty

My lovers beauty charming

I'll sacrifice myself. If there is way

 

Her glance captivating

In the meadows and the shadows

As a glistening branch bending

Gliding in the heavens. During the day

 

Was I promised? It is mystifying

Who'll have mercy on me. I wonder

From love and my anxious longing

Except the sovereign of beauty. I pray

 

 

(If you want to hear what Joel and her girls might have sounded like then I urge you to listen to this.)

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgF8_27FPL0

 

 

 

By the time Joel finished her song I could not stop myself from crying. She knew I would, because her tears tackled down her cheeks as well. That song was the first piece of music I heard mistress Maria sing to me. It is still one of my favorite tunes which I often play myself. It is a famous piece of music written by Ziryab more than a hundred years ago in Andalusia. It is still played all over the Arab world. I was lost in that song. In its memories. More so in the purity of Joel’s voice that I almost forgot why I was sent to Rome in the first place. Unfortunately all it took was for Gilbert to submit his resignation the next day for me to remember.

 




Submitted: July 17, 2021

© Copyright 2021 samnash. All rights reserved.

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Comments

DampKitten

What? Why did Gilbert resign?

I love the YouTube musical demonstrations. And Jabi is hung like a horse. They don’t allow those demonstrations on YouTube. How unfortunate.

Hey, I’m watching a History Channel series on Barbarian uprisings against Rome. Thought you’d like to know that.

I’m also at Emerald Isle in NC, trying to read this on my phone. There’s something weird about the way your story is showing up on my phone, so I’ll try to look on the computer and see if it’s the same.

Tue, July 20th, 2021 3:16am

DampKitten

I think when you pulled this chapter over from WORD (or whatever), the system transposed some of your narrative. I highlighted those paragraphs.
I like the nostalgia of the musical piece and how it relates back to training with Maria.

Tue, July 20th, 2021 12:23pm

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