The Smoking Girl in Hijab

Lucinda Palme

The Smoking Girl in Hijab

Limaan was passing past the junction at Liseberg, and he caught the attention of a girl and her friends who were standing-at-ease and chatting animatedly.

The girl arrested Limaan’s attention. Her lips were ruddy as ruddiness is. Saving for her radiant face, the hijab covered her head but her earrings tumbled out of the garment for they were the size of the full moon. The hijab flowed down over her black shirt. The shirt was short: neatly showcased her navel. A steely ring distinctly popped out of her navel. And, she was smoking. The denim trousers showed the contours of her hips and legs: sturdy and alluring legs, Limaan surmised. He was pleasantly surprised but also displeased with these type of girls for they were moving away from their cultural values. But he never dated a Muslim girl who also smoked. He had only heard about some Muslim girls who are smoking, these days, but this was the first time he saw a girl smoking, in a public place! He parked his car, and rushed to the group of girls.

Confidently, Limaan greeted the girls, loudly and clearly, ‘hej’. The wide face widened as he opened his mouth to the widest point. Faduma ignored him. Ladan nodded her head in acknowledgement. Nasteexo smiled. Maria maintained aloofness. Ebba chirped ‘hej’. His attention was on Faduma, and he asked in Swedish, addressing all of them, “Please, spare me a cigarette, girls?” All the girls looked at Faduma. Only Faduma is a smoker in their group. Dragging a puff, deeply, and she exhaled out the smoke in the direction of Limaan, and cast her eyes on his chest. The chest was adorned with a gold necklace resembling like a rope that anchors a boat. The ornament glistened on his body only to compete with his smile when he opened it.

Faduma thought that Limaan can wear a gold rope but cannot buy a packet of Camel. “Can’t you buy one,” Faduma said condescendingly noticing his stare at her. Her condescension poured out of her eyes, and her eyes bulged out for they were touched with antimony around her eyelids.

“I smoke, rarely,” Limaan said, “when I meet beautiful girls like you.”

“Ugh,” sounded Faduma, dropped her cigarette butt on the floor, and took out the Camel packet from her handbag, and thrusted it to Limaan’s face to pick one from the box. He took one, shouted ‘thank you’ at her, and waited to light his cigarette. It became obvious to Fadum, she had to spare her lighter as well. Smoking for the sake of smoking, he asked, “Where you girls up to?” No one answered. “Lovely day, girls,” he said, looking around.

A sunny day.

The girls had come to Gothenburg from Rinkeby-Kista to spend few days with their distant family members, and friends. And they were about to part from each other to their respective destinations though two among them had booked different hostels.

Failing to elicit a response from the girls, he introduced himself, “Limaan,” and forcefully shook every one’s hands, and enquired about their names. They told their first names, or nicknames, except Faduma.

Limaan smelled from their smells where they could have come from. Social interactions in Sweden taught him to smell out a Somalian from an Eritrean and an Eritrean from an Ethiopian and an Ethiopian from a Somalian, and who is a native Swede and who is a naturalized Swede.

“Liemaan,” said Faduma, “sounding Swedish, ah?”

“Hej, I don’t want to pretend, Limaan is a Somali name,” he clarified, not to be related to any other Leeman or Leighman or Layman.

“What you do,” she asked.

“I own my own business.”


“I have a fleet of cars. My own business,” he said confidently unsuppressing the air of boastfulness.

Faduma was definitely sure he was babbling, she asked, “Driving taxi?”

“I own cars.”

“Go, and get your saloon car, first.”

“Give me a second, I will be back,” he said, and sprang to the portico of Gothia Towers where he had parked his car. He returned at the speed of light with his car, and parked it in front of them. He gently honked, looked intently at Faduma, and freeing one hand from steering wheel, he stretched out his hand: get into the car. The girls looked at one another. Faduma dragged her wheeled suitcase to the door of the car, Limaan opened the other side off the door for her, and she entered into the saloon car.

The car zoomed past the city centres to a riverside of Gothenburg.

—Lucinda Palme