Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon by Lulufa Vongtau

1998 Bindawa, Katsina

“Where are you?” it was not a question or a request, it was blurted out with an intensity that suggested desperation.

“I am at home. We just returned from Tungan Maje with Sani.  What is wrong?”

“Come to me.” It was not a request or even an instruction. It was desperation.  Sani, my best friend, her brother, would be home by now. I looked at my watch. It was a little after midnight.  Quietly, with purpose, I negotiated the darkness towards her sailing past cactus fences, snoring cattle, disturbed and annoyed owls and the spirits of the unresting dead, calling at me like sirens at mariners.  But I had purpose. What I heard in her voice was my purpose.

Zainab. Your feet are beautiful in those sandals.  The curves of your thighs are like jewelry made by an artist. Your navel is like a round cup;  may it never be without wine. Your belly is like a pile of wheat, surrounded by lilies.  Your breasts are like twin fawns, of a young gazelle.  Your neck is like an  ivory tower. Your eyes are like the pools near the gate. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon,  that looks toward Damascus.  Your head is like Carmel, and the hair on your head is  like silk. Your long flowing hair, captures even a king.  You are so beautiful and so pleasant, a lovely, delightful young woman! The daughter of the Northern star. The light of my eyes. She was waiting for me under the baobab tree that had fed and sheltered our village for almost a hundred years. Her face was downcast as in the dark  she handed me the plain simple cell phone I had gotten her for her sixteenth birthday just a couple of weeks ago. I read the text, my heart racing. Her father, the hakimi, our village head had determined that she would marry the head of the dogarai, the bodyguards, after Friday mosque. Today was Wednesday!  I looked up at her face, the face that caused me to go on. She had been crying. She had cried until, she had no more waters to give her eyes. I knew. I knew Zainab. Wordlessly she reached for my hand with a soft pliant hennaed hand, looking at me in the low moonlight with eyes that pierced me to the divide of my soul and spirit. We had never thought this moment would come. The princess and the son of a woodcutter. That night we did not look back, we had said our bye byes centuries ago. We picked our destiny in four hands and rushed headlong into the night.

2014, Hampton Suburbs New York, New York

It was a little after 7 am, I sat at my computer watching her drink her coffee seated at the couch. Our daily ritual. It was cold, but it was peaceful, she brought peace to me. Peace, stableness, warmth, life, yes life….a door behind her creaked open and Amira, our 4 year old, rubbing  at her eyes in  the aftermath of a deep sleep, clutching at a rag doll with the other hand, wordlessly walked to her mother and into her embrace, unafraid of not been unaccepted.  Her mother cuddled her with those same arms that had cuddled me and taken away my pain and loneliness, and anger and confusion. And Amira promptly went back to sleep. She turned to look at me, her smile still the most precious thing to me on this plane of existence. I smiled back. Then something caught my eye on the Nigerian news tickers. “Sani Danburam becomes Hakimi”. I looked at the image of my friend Sani, he had not changed much ,his face wizened and wiser it seemed. He had like me, become a man.  I remembered his hearty laugh. The wrinkles by the side of his eyes when he laughed. I remembered his promise that I could marry his sister. I turned to Zainab.  “It’s time to go home.”



19 thoughts on “Song of Solomon” by Lulu (@Lulu)

  1. Well What Can I Say, Beautiful With A Flow Like Music But Rather Too Short And Rushed Without Invicible Actions.

    1. thanks for the kind comments but I thought thats why they call it flash fiction…this is my first official flash f ever..

      1. thanks bro, been a minute

  2. The kind of stories I read, and write.

    Good one o!

    1. an obvious error on my part. I forgot gsm services started in 2000. but don’t let that distract you from the greater themes therein

  3. A simple cell phone in a village in 1998?

    1. Now, who would have sent a 16 year old a text on Wednesday to inform her she was getting married on Friday, in 1998? Her Father? Mother? Sani? Naa…I can’t get my head around it.

      1. @greatjaneo her sister? obviously this is strange to you but I did not have the time or inclination to pursue that theme which is tangential to this story but central to the series i have in mind , but i assure you that even as I write, there are 16 year olds getting wed off in Northern Nigeria, who had no pre knowledge of the wedding until the night before. You dont have to understand it. it is what it is.

        1. Yes, you are right about the possibility of no pre-knowledge. But then, she would have been informed, but not via a text. The “sister” angle was never implied in your story line. See, it’s your story and you tell it as you want. My observation was to make you tell your story better and more logically. Okay?

          1. by logical and better, you mean something you can wrap your mind about ehn @greatjaneo ? i appreciate your comments but the job of a writer is also to make us think. Why do you think she called her lover at midnight? why did they elope, if it is nothing they have not thought about. let me state the implied then…the father has recognized that Zainab has dreams too big to be contained by his culture. he does not understand this as he has a narrow view of the role of women in society. he wants to marry her off maybe this will cure her madness. he intends to do this secretly without her knowledge. but he tells her mother who informs her sister who sends her a text. Zainab learns of this and elopes. Her return heralds a new dawn and perhaps a clash of ideologies when other women see what she has become, empowered and free of centuries of restrictive tradition. That would be too much to put in a piece of flash fiction. if this has answered your initial disbelief, I suggest you refine the quality of your future criticism. I tell tales of Africa, and there are things I could tell you that you would not believe but they exist, even if i try imperfectly to tell them. Be well.

  4. Forget the little error with GSM, this is a great story.

  5. This is beautiful writing, full stop.
    Not everything can be explained in flash fiction. Most leave the reader feeling as if the ending is missing. Yours doesn’t feel like that for me. You wrote it so well and still managed to fit in a resolution @Lulu. I salute you.
    The last time I tried to write a flash, I ended up with 1550 words. Flash fiction is not really my thing though. I like to thrash out themes.

    The part about her not knowing makes sense.
    Why would the father that is trying to take away her rights sit her down to tell her his plans? So, no @greatjaneo, in real life she wouldn’t have found out until that day.

    In the UK, girls disappear from classrooms frequently. The last thing they tell their friends is that they are going back home on holiday with their parents. The next thing you hear is they are now ‘happily married’.
    They only get to come back here when they are pregnant or have given birth.
    I’m happy Zainab’s case ended well. But let’s not forget the girls and women whose voices still remain silent.

    1. @olajumoke as always you are a breath of fresh air on a hot sweaty day tanks…. its been a minute though. I am going to borrow ‘voices that remained silent’…i feel a story building itself around those your words, begging to be written……i wonder what happened to Zainab’s sister in the years this has passed. They will not be forgotten…thanks my instant muse, Im going to write…

  6. Bola (@basittjamiu)

    It is really nice reading this flash story and the coment are really cool. You wrote the “Flash Fever” the way it ought to be written, no better way than this Lulu. People will always find one thing or the other to say about a piece of writing, yours is to welcome them and say thank you. Lol!
    Weldone Lulu.

    1. @basittjamiu i guess so. Thanks for the words. very kind and thoughtful.

  7. Nice one. Great imagery. Really enjoyed it.

  8. t’was indeed a nice flash fiction… a story of love decorated with words that made the deftness of the scribe not in doubt…

  9. CANT PUT D WORDS TOGETHER.AMAZING PIECE*takes pen and paper* learning alot here…tank you

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