Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun (Indeed we belong to Allah, and verily to Him we will return – Qur’an 2:156)
Monday April 20, 2020 will forever remain indelible in our soul, it’s the day we lost not just a father but a super dad, a confidant, an adviser, a counselor, a reliable pillar and a jewel of inestimable value to the cold hands of death. Kullu nafsin zaikatul maut (Indeed every soul shall taste death – Qur’an 3:185).
The abrupt passing away of Abba around 11.30pm has humbled and kept us all in a box of rumination, but as believers we accept it in good faith, hoping, believing and praying that Allah in his infinite mercy will accept his good deeds, forgive his short comings and grant him Jannatul Firdaus, insha Allah.
We are still overwhelmed by grief; we were hoping Abba would grow much older with us as he never for once showed any sign that the end was near. To the world, he was our father but to us he was our super hero – that is rare to find. Truly, the life of this world is an enjoyment of delusion, death is certain, life is not, and for death be prepared for it will surely pay a visit, sooner or later.
Still fresh in my memory is our encounter when he returned home around 5pm on Thursday April 16, 2020 and asked me to take him to the hospital as he had lost his appetite and was having general body weakness because he couldn’t eat much both in the morning and afternoon. We went to the hospital; he was examined and given an intravenous fluid which finished around 9.30pm, after which we returned home, but were asked to run a test the following day. On Friday April 17 around 10.30am, we did the test and from the result, we were informed that he had high malaria and we needed to get an E Mal injection. We got the injection and he was given immediately, with the remaining two administered on the 18th and 19th respectively. The fever was completely gone but still Abba didn’t have appetite and we returned to the hospital around 4.30pm on April 20. Another IV fluid was given which finished around 8.30pm, we went back home that night and he changed into more comfy clothes and went to bed.
Before leaving for my house around 10pm, I asked how he was feeling and he replied ‘Alhamdulillah’. Little did I know that was the last conversation between us. At exactly 11.15pm, I received the most terrifying call from my sister that I needed to come over urgently. I rushed to the house with the intention of taking him back to the hospital. I immediately called a neighbour who is a medical doctor. He examined him and told us there’s no need to go to the hospital – Abba was no more. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun.
For all the wonderful years we spent together, Abba was zestful, energetic and active. He drives himself around town comfortably, goes for 30 minutes’ walk seven days a week, between magrib and Isha prayers, just to keep fit. He was extra careful with his diet in particular and his health generally; as such he goes for medical checkup regularly despite the fact that he does not have any type of ailment common with people within his age bracket.
Abba was one of the happiest people around, and as we grew older, we realized that his happiness was tied to the fulfillment of obligations. He held on to his creator and served Allah Almighty to his fullest capacity, he served his parents with devotion and admiration, he treated his neighbours with kindness and empathy without expecting anything in return.
He was three in one to me; first he was the mirror with which I looked at life – he was bold, straightforward and supportive. He speaks to you straight from his heart, he will tell you the stark truth even if it hurts. Secondly, he was like the brother I never had and a father I’m so proud of; from the moment I return from work, we were always together. Luckily, I reside just about 15 metres away from my family house. We will discuss local and international politics, current happenings within and outside the country. On daily basis, we prayed magrib and isha prayers and still watched NTA news headlines together before leaving for my house. On weekends, we used to travel out of town for weddings, condolences, visits etc.
My consolation is that he lived his life according to Islamic teachings and guidance. He was a responsible family man to the core, he was always available for us, he sacrificed his personal comfort for his family, he made sure we lacked nothing, particularly basic necessities of life.
He was never an absentee father. Throughout primary and secondary schools, he always settled our school fees and did our shopping at least two weeks before resumption of every term. He would wake up early and drop us at school on time regardless of the weather. I still remember with nostalgia how he takes his time to guide us in doing our home work after magrib prayers, and on weekends he would ask us to recite some surahs which we have memorised from the holy Quran.
To our generous mother, he was more than a husband; he was a companion, a soul mate, a pillar, a backbone and dependable shoulder. He had supported her from day one till he drew his last breath. Together they created a conducive, “no nonsense” but friendly environment where we were all brought up with so much love. They had one voice when it came to decision making.
To his siblings and relatives, he was a bridge builder, a problem solver, tolerating and accommodating, he gave a listening ear and had solutions to all family issues and challenges.
He did his best in supporting the education, upbringing and marriage of his siblings, and supported widows and orphans morally and financially both within and outside his community the little way he could. He dedicated every Tuesday for reciting the holy Quran and visiting the sick, and maintained excellent ties of kinship with relatives, classmates, childhood friends as well as neighbours and encouraged us to do the same.
Abba was a disciplinarian; it is now that I sincerely appreciate the numerous scoldings I received from him whenever I did something wrong during my teenage years. Among the many things he did for us as kids that I will forever cherish and remember are the small blue BMX , the medium yellow BMX, the red Chopper with gear and the black Phoenix bicycles he bought for me at different times while in primary and secondary schools, and the car gift (green Toyota first lady) when I got admission into the university. The last gift ran in the family – each of my siblings received theirs upon getting university admission. But the most cherished gifts are the virtues he left for us to emulate and an ideal mother whom he carefully chose for us.
To his grand children Muad, Mu’in, Manal, Ayman, Maysam, Mahla and little Mahmoud, they will grow up remembering him as the free giver of Melody Candy whenever they set their foot in his sitting room and shake his hand.
Abba was born on March 15, 1951 in Kazaure Local Government Area of Jigawa State. he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Educational Development and Statistics from Institute of Education University of London in 1983, a Professional Diploma in Educational Statistics from Federal School of Statistics Ibadan in 1974, West African School Certificate from Provincial Secondary School Kano (Rumfa College) 1969.
He began his working career as Produce Inspector with the Ministry of Agriculture & Natural Resources Kano, and later moved to the Ministry of Education Kano, where he rose to Director Planning Research & Statistics.
After the creation of Jigawa State in 1991, he was appointed the first Sole Administrator of Gwiwa local government, and was later posted to Ministry of Education where he rose from State Coordinator Primary Education to Director General Ministry of Information, Youth Sports and Culture in 1997. In 1998, he was appointed Permanent Secretary and served in the Ministries of Education, Lands and Survey, Office of the Head of Service, and Local Government & Chieftaincy Affairs from where he left the service in year 2000.
His honesty, integrity, dedication, commitment, empathy, resilience, humility and transparency earned him another appointment as Permanent Commissioner Jigawa State Local Government Service Commission between 2001 and 2005.
He left behind our hard-working mother Hajiya Gaji Bello Hussain, my siblings Mufida, Mushira, Mujiba and my humble self, as well as his siblings; Alhaji Nura Hussain, Hajiya Ladi, Hajiya Aliya, Hajiya Amina (Allaba) and Hajiya Ummulkhair.
May I use this piece to sincerely appreciate everyone who sympathized with us, especially those who were at the salatul Jannaza and the grave yard despite the lock down in Kano, those who called on phone, through text, whatsapp messages and e-mail to condole us, may Allah reward you all.
Death changes everything. I truly miss the sound of his voice, the wisdom in his advice, the stories of his life, the excitement and pleasure he derives whenever he sets his foot at his birthplace Kazaure, and just being around him.
May Allah the most beneficent, most merciful accept and endorse his good deeds, May Allah have mercy on his soul, May Allah forgive his shortcomings and transgressions, May Allah give us the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. May He continue to guide, protect and be with us all and the entire Muslim ummah.
Ameen Ya Arhamar Rahimin.
Mubashir Bello Hussain sent in this tribute from Kano