The last days of our father, Alaramma Idris Hamza, who died on Saturday, October 12, 2019, revealed a lot about his person: his relationship with people and his perception about this world and the hereafter.
Alaramma was a wonderful man because few weeks before he returned to his Creator, it was as if he had the premonition of his eternal departure as evident in the way he spoke with me during one of our telephone conversations. On that day, our cousin, Alaramma Abdulrashid Haruna Hamza, called to give me an update on the state of health of our father who we took to Kano on Thursday, September 26, for medical attention.
Malam Abdulrashid said Baba was lively and recuperating, even though he said the octogenarian passed through a lot of pain the previous day. And when he handed over the phone to Baba, he too, during our short but eventful conversation, told me that he was getting better, but admitted that he had an unprecedented fever the previous day.
Speaking in Hausa, Baba said, “In fact, I had a feeling yesterday that my life was coming to an end, but Alhamdu Lillah (Glory be to God), the fever has subsided…I had a sound sleep through the night.”
Baba continued, “But in order not to take anything to chance, as usual, I took time to recite the prayer recommended by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for someone in a situation like mine,” and he surprisingly went ahead to recite the prayer to my hearing, saying every Muslim should always prepare for his final moments:
“O Allah, keep me alive so long as life is good for me.”
“And cause me to die when death is good for me.”
“O Allah, let me be with the highest company (of people you are pleased with after my death).”
Soon after concluding the prayer, Baba told me that if his life came to an end, he should be buried in Kano at the cemetery where his younger brother, Alaramma Haruna Hamza, was buried.
He said, “I have told Abdulrashid and Anas that I should be buried close to Haruna here in Kano; you too should take note of this.”
And by share coincidence, the day he died was exactly 28 years after the death of his brother, Alaramma Haruna, who left this world on Saturday, October 12, 1991. Alhamdu Lillah, my siblings respected the directive Baba gave and buried him not far from the grave of Alaramma Haruna.
Anas and Sanusi who were with our father when he passed on said he had a peaceful exit.
“We never knew he was dead; he died quietly,” Sanusi told me on phone, while I was in Douala, Cameroon, struggling to return home.
Sanusi further told me that, “We heard enough conversation with Baba earlier in the morning; he ate and told us stories which made us laugh. We never thought that was our last moment with him.”
He said when he saw that Baba was somehow stable, he left for the town to deliver a message, only to be called back by his brother, Anas.
“When I returned and discovered that Baba was shivering, we decided to take him to hospital. We helped him change his clothes…He was supplicating and uttered Kalimatu Shahada and we assisted him into the car. We didn’t go far when we realised that he was no longer saying anything; he was silent,” Sanusi told me.
“It was indeed a glorious exit,” Anas too told me when I enquired about Baba’s final moments.
Anas added that “Baba’s soul was gently taken; we did not notice when he passed on…It was as if he was asleep. However, to clear our doubts, we proceeded to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) where he was confirmed dead. He was at peace with himself.”
At 77, our father was very strong and agile. He never passed a night on any hospital bed. He was a healthy man who had no record of any ailment.
Baba was fond of walking from our family house to anywhere he wanted to go in Jos despite a vehicle at his disposal and our friends who were always willing to give him a lift.
It was only during his last days that his health began to fail, and curiously, all the hospitals we took him to, including the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and some private clinics, could not diagnose him with any serious ailment even though he was intermittently battling with fever.
It was at that stage that we decided to take him to AKTH, and even then, all the doctors that checked him could not diagnose him with any ailment, rather, they advised that he should have enough rest.
We, therefore, took him to the house of my younger brother, Aminu Idris Hamza, at Hotoro Quarters in Kano, where he spent 16 days before he passed on to the great beyond.
We tried other facilities to get the best treatment for our father but the stubborn fever and cold refused to go.
Baba was everything to us his children. He gave us the best he could, and as his first child, he devoted a lot of attention and expended his mean resources, including selling his belongings, to ensure that I did not drop out of school. I will for the rest of my life remain indebted to this gentleman.
Many of us are yet to come to terms with the fact that Baba is no more! Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajiun (Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return).
Our hearts bleed because of this monumental loss, and personally, my eyes are dry of tears that could relieve my pain whenever I yearningly try to reconnect with the eventful moments I had with our father. I keep recalling the 39-minute phone conversation I had with him on Thursday, October 10, during which among other family issues, he reminded me about the virtues of patience, perseverance and forgiveness.
And when I called him on October 12, to tell him that I would be travelling out of the country, these were his last words to me, “Allah ya yi maka albarka (May Allah bless you). Allah ya baka ‘ya‘yan da za su kula da kai (May Allah give you children that will take care of you). Allah ya sa ku gama da duniya lafiya (May you and your siblings live a fulfilled life). Allah ya dawo da kai lafiya (May Allah bring you back home safely).”
We had the conversation around 09:00am and I left for the airport ahead of our take off by 01.45pm. Six hours after, while on transit at Addis-Ababa, I received a condolence SMS from an acquaintance.
Certainly, the departure of Baba has created a huge, painful and irreplaceable vacuum in our lives, but we take solace in the verse in Surat Ali ‘Imran that says: “Every soul will taste death….”
Alaramma was a pious Muslim, a lover of truth and an ardent reader of the Holy Qur’an. Although he committed the 60 chapters of the Holy Qur’an to memory at the age of 19 and wrote the manuscript before he was 23, he recently started writing verses of the holy book on a slate (Allo) and was attending Darasu (an informal gathering of students and clerics where they read, revise, review and deepen their understanding, expertise and mastery of the technical aspect of the letters of the Qur’an).
He was so obsessed with the holy book to the extent that reciting it was part and parcel of his daily routine.
Baba was a moral compass and a spiritual guide to multitudes who saw in him the real virtues of simplicity and piety.
Baba was a mediator, a prime confidant, a pillar of strength, a father figure, a rallying point and a source of inspiration to different generations.
He lived a dignified life, and all the people that attended his Janaza (burial) in Kano, and the Third and Seventh-Day Fidda’u prayers in Jos, attested to his simplicity and decorum.
Alaramma Idris Hamza was born in 1942 at Maiturmi, a sleepy village in Mai’adua Local Government Area of Katsina State.
He learned the Holy Qur’an and Islamic Jurisprudence under the tutelage of prominent clerics such as Malam Manzo in Kano, Malam Barau Na Madabo and Malam Abdullahi Alkalin Shendam in Jos, and many others in Borno and Yobe states.
He left behind two wives, 21 children, over 40 grandchildren, his elder brother, Malam Nasiru Mai Goro, among others.
I pray Allah to grant his soul peace, make the Holy Qur’an a companion to him in his grave and admit him into Jannatil Firdaus as his final abode.