Reviewer: Samuel Oluwatobi OlatunjiBook Title: Season of Crimson BlossomsAuthor: Abubakar Adam IbrahimPublisher: Parresia BooksYear: 2015Number of Pages: 347
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms is an intriguing story that delves into the intricacies of loss and longing. This story is a compelling canvas of the blackness of the haunting past or memories and the redness of romance and violence. There seems to be poetry on every page as one reads the novel: it has both melody and melancholy, both pulchritude and poignancy.
In this novel, a devout widow in her mid-fifties tries to overcome the loss of her first son through an exciting amorous adventure with a young rogue, who also wants to overcome the loss of his wild mother, who he barely knows. In their different losses, they long for each other, a dark and dangerous longing that instead of healing them turns out to not just hurt them, but hurt the people around them.
The big question that hunts my mind as I flipped from page to page is: what would make a pious, well-respected widow with children and grandchildren to burn with passion for a rogue far younger than her last born? There is simply a thin line between chastity and sexuality. This statement appears to be the foregrounding idea, amidst other ideas, of the novel. The reader may feel a sense of awe as a fifty-five woman who cautions her niece about the thickness of her lipstick and the tightness of her school uniform around the hips, and soon meets a twenty-five year man, who realises her femininity of being “a little heavy around the hips, a little heavy at the bosom… [and] not too mamarish” (9), and then ignites her sexuality, leading to the “moistening of her long-abandoned womanhood” (26). Based on their mutual and sexual relationship, I feel love or lust sometimes cannot be used to define the force that binds one to another.
Interestingly, Hajiya Binta, the widow, is not presented as an object of vile, but as a person to be still respected; it is easy to understand and forgive her. Even the character of Reza, the rogue, tends to obtain compassion and understanding from the reader despite his brutality. This affirms Ibrahim’s brave creative dexterity, creating captivating characters that drive the plot through a well-portrayed setting.
With the tryst of the widow and the rogue at the core of the story, the author still spirals through the violence-punctuated Nigerian history, unraveling certain political and social issues that are quite disturbing. This intensifies the red texture of violence depicted in the novel.
One would have thought this is another moral story told by an old wise man, trying to create a morally obedient audience since each chapter begins with a proverb, but that would have been a false thought. Ibrahim is not preaching or admonishing with this story; he is just telling a story that needs to be told. And the story has been well-told/written. Aside certain words being joined together scantily scattered through the novel, the novel is a perfect read, and is really worthy of one’s attention. Emerging as the winner of the NLNG Prize for Literature this year is simply a potent avowal of Ibrahim’s aesthetic ingenuity and the novel’s rippling brilliance.