Home / Arts & Books / Peeping into the secret life of Hajiya Binta Zubairu

Peeping into the secret life of Hajiya Binta Zubairu

Thrilled and hilarious! I was wildly excited all through Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms and quickly quaffed the offering down my gullet without me knowing. It’s the story of a common Hausa family, of a widow mother, an elderly woman of stately dignity living with a niece and a grandchild. What a thrill you read a novel and meet people you know. As I read, I found myself laughing and yelping and whispering and talking to characters I feared people called me mad.
Lines are poetic and ringing in Abubakar’s work. It is a delight. Characters and their dialogue seem real and believable, speaking and behaving convincingly. Faiza, the stubbornly eccentric girl proves mesmerizing in her manner and speech pattern as a real Hausa girl. She is young and knows the new fashion in town. She disagrees with Hajiya over dress and appearance, laughing at Hajiya like my sisters laugh at our mother for her lack of sense of trends.
Abubakar must have caught a one-on-one conversation with his characters. Have you met Mahmood Mai-shayi, quick, energetic and agile? He reminded me of a tea seller in our area. Abubakar created memorable characters by letting them to speak themselves.
However, Season of Crimson Blossoms is nearly ruined by attempt at providing what Orville Prescott called “political documentary details.”
People like me who had never been to the closet of women bedrooms would find the book revealing, revealing the secret thinking of women about sex and things we never hear about girls.
Beyond the world of Hajiya Binta and her sexual adventure lies a world of rhythms of street culture and subculture assembling at San Siro, and streets of Jos with its joy, daymare and nightmare. There is the notorious Nigeria’s image looming large in Reza’s boldness to confront the law for hindering his illegality. There is something that many people out of this culture may not understand about Reza, you understand.
Season of Crimson Blossoms is a story of Hajiya Binta, a widow who struggles between the intersections of faith, culture and personal fulfillment. Hajiya Binta was originally caught in a tasteless marriage that almost looked like sexual slavery, escaped her past ten years after her husband’s death, Mal Zubairu, and finds life in Reza, in whom she sees and feels her late son, Yaro. At childhood, Yaro shared a lot with Reza, was in drug and weeds and in the street puddles. Hajiya nursed deep affection for Yaro but was forbidden to show it openly “because of kunya, the socially prescribed modesty” that she “had to live with…”
Reza breathes life to the story and propels it. A product of broken home, he was raised by stepmothers after his mother was separated from his father. As a result, he grew up with a thirst for maternal emotional needs.
While Hajiya sees her son in Reza, Reza also sees his mother in Hajiya Binta, to whom he felt not only filial affection for but also romantic. While putting a ring on his palm his mother’s smile enchanted him. “The elegance with which she performed the gesture mesmerized the boy” (p.41). The boy also has affection for his mother, “the gleam of gold in her teeth and her beautiful face shimmering like an image under water” fascinated him. Something here is already hinted. Therefore, the affair between Reza and Hajiya Binta is transferred Oedipus complex and inverted Electra complex respectively – Reza “mother-fixated, she, “son-fixated.”
In this case there is a little problem about their relationship, since each is struggling to mend the little jarred pieces of their past. However, half-way through the reading I became disturbed and troubled as Hajiya’s sexual escapade became wild and untamed. Blame the author for authorial conspiracy, letting Hajiya going to hotel rooms and giving her so much energy to conduct her affair with agility and rhythm that surpassed person her age.
You won’t get troubled about the whole thing until you pick Hajiya out of the fictional world and plant her into the real. A mother of four, with a string of grandchildren and a niece? What is even more troubling is that Hajiya Binta is decent, respectable and dignified old woman surrounded by the comforting atmosphere of family life. Imagine a woman of her age having an affair with an irresponsible young man like Reza with all the putrefying smell and bad feeling after each sexual encounter.
It’s hard to forgive Hajiya given that Hadiza and Munkaila approached her with the proposal of remarrying, which she never bothered to consider. Hajiya Binta could have fought oppressive social codes in ways that preserve her honor and dignity and that of her family. She could marry since the children are not totally opposed to the question of remarrying than as to the character of the person. The fact that there would a possible resistance to the idea of marrying Reza proves that decency and respectability are cherished values in Binta’s culture.
With courage and candor, Abubakar touches on raw aspect of society. The question however, is not to blame Binta directly, but to look into the condition that begat her, that begat Reza and Gattuso and San Siro.

PS: Parresia did a splendid job on editing and proofreading. However, I think there is the need for improvement on consistency on whether to italicize throughout or not even italicize at all, and check really if “Unguwa” can be written as Angwan Rukuba Junction (p.169), (later I learned this is how many Hausa-speakers of central Nigeria say it) and if Mararaba market (p.181) is not actually Mararraba. I almost forget this, that two dots appear at the end of the paragraph where Munkaila was stamping his immaculate shoes “every now and then” (p. 159).

 

Abubakar is Kano-based blogger, writer and new media journalist. He’s finishing up a degree in Theory and Cultural Studies from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. (@mallamabubakaar)

About Abubakar Sulaiman Muhd