She sat at the center table, engrossed in the religious books before her. Her eyes were shielded by the white glasses she always wore when reading or using her phone. Adorned in a crimson lace outfit, the intricate patterns sparkled in the stitching, accentuating her beauty. Her youth had only just begun to bloom, yet her allure was such that she could be mistaken for being less than beautiful.

Sam’s arrival went unnoticed by her until the savory aroma of cooking wafted in, prompting her to lift her eyes to him, revealing the affection that filled his gaze. Shagwaba remarked, “You’re not going out for Hajj.”

He responded with closed eyes, simply checking his wristwatch. She playfully tapped her feet on the floor and teased, “You’re fine. I know you’re not in the mood to talk; you’ll just do it.”

His hand gently caressed her cheek, and with a sigh, he said, “You’re growing up… Stop acting like a 30-year-old child.”

She nestled onto his broad chest and murmured, “Oh, Elhajj, I’m only a girl when you see me. I’m not growing up.”

A brief smile crossed his face as he uttered, “Hmm, I’m off.”

He gently pulled away from her and said, “Goodbye.”

He departed at his unhurried pace. When he reached the security compound, the guards promptly rose and greeted him respectfully. Without uttering a word, he stepped into the car that had been opened for him and left swiftly. In the car, he occupied the passenger seat while the driver took the wheel.

He retrieved his iPad and began working. Respectfully, the driver asked, “Sir, where are we headed?”

It took about three minutes before he replied, “The new site.”

The driver acknowledged with a simple “Okay, sir.”

A 15-minute stroll led him to an impressive building, its beauty somewhat overshadowed by its functionality, constructed predominantly of glass.

Upon parking, security personnel swiftly opened his car door. They followed him until he reached the private elevator, at which point they halted, not accompanying him into the general elevator for public use.

Exiting almost simultaneously on the 5th floor, where the meeting room was located, he entered with an air of calm assurance. Everyone gathered as if he were the sole participant awaiting the meeting’s commencement. He exchanged no greetings, and the discussion promptly delved into the purpose that had brought them together.

The meeting continued for approximately two hours, centering on the goods to be imported from his company in China. Prominent businessmen had already paid for these goods in anticipation, aware of Elhajj’s reputation for delivering only the highest quality.

Following the meeting, he retired to his office. He removed his hat and leisurely adjusted the AC remote to a colder setting, as he preferred the room to be quite chilly.

Upon opening the door, he didn’t need to open his eyes; he already knew who was there, except for his friend Salim.

Salim sat in a chair, observing him intently. “Elhajj, I’ve been warning you since yesterday. Take a closer look at this. The man didn’t deceive me.”

Opening his discerning eyes, Elhajj looked at Salim and responded, “I’ve already signed, and I’ve examined every aspect. This deal is profitable, and you know we stand to gain significant profit.”

Salim shook his head, attempting to make his point. “It’s a massive sum, Elhajj, and I can’t fathom your plans for it. If you’d like, you can invest it within the company. You know why; you owe it to us.”

Opening a bottle of water, Elhajj leaned back slightly and stated, “Helping him is a business venture, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I won’t just give handouts; we’ll do business together. Why worry, brother Salim?”

Salim fell silent before conceding, “Well, if you’re at peace with this deal, then so be it.”

They lapsed into silence, the soft hum of the AC filling the room. Salim stood up and said, “I went last year, and I have some clients who want to discuss.”

Elhajj remained focused on his computer, where he reviewed textile designs for import.


She screamed as if in agony, drawing everyone in the house to her side, their prayers and well-wishes filling the room.

Baba grasped her ear and sternly declared, “I’m not asking you; I’m taking my money for your father.”

Struggling to contain herself, Zillo protested, “Father, I swear by God, I have no involvement with your money. God knows, I have nothing to do with your wealth. By God’s grace, you need not mistreat anyone; God watches from above.”

He stifled her words, warning her, “You’ll disgrace me. Tell me, yes, as your mother did.”

She pursed her small lips and declared, “I’m a child of God, Father. God is watching, and He knows how I’ll seek justice.”

His hand moved to cover her mouth further, but she deftly avoided it.

Umma, standing at the doorway, intervened, saying, “Because of your father’s anger, you insult me and tell lies.”

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