Musa Sani Khalil
It was in the early hours of Tuesday, April 12, 2021, the first day of Ramadan 1442. My wife and I were awake for a meal before dawn (Sahur) when we got the sad news of the year. We were discussing something that somehow related to Short Message Service (SMS) when her phone suddenly beeped and she immediately reached for it. The moment she read the message she murmured, “Inna LilLahi Wa Inna Ilaihir Raji’un.’’ She could not compose herself anymore, so she left me curious and perplexed. “What happened?’’ I asked, but she didn’t respond. I managed to ask if it was Yaya and she nodded. I quickly ran to my phone and placed a call. It was confirmed, he had passed away.
Yaya had suffered from a leg problem for about two years, which is a widespread health challenge within his age bracket. However, his health condition gradually deteriorated within just a week or two before his ultimate demise.
It is difficult to imagine the magnitude of the loss to the entire family and the community. Yaya was one of the elderly, prominent people one could find in Hadejia. He was an intimate friend to the late Emir Abubakar Maje, AVM Hamza Abdullahi, Bura Lili (my paternal grandfather) and Hassan Hadejia.
To the family, Yaya was a great patriarch. His shoulder stood strong with huge responsibility and burden. It will sincerely be difficult to find his replacement in the family.
The kind of “zumunci’’ he practised to members of the family, far and near, is just second to none and unquantifiable. Yaya was a kind of personality with principles and ethics. I have not come across an individual who epitomised authority like him. When it came to shouldering responsibilities in his entire household, he carried everyone along and treated them equally.
Yaya touched so many lives positively in one way or another. He shouldered all family responsibilities for more than 60 years or more. He sponsored his entire household and many others to hajj. He paid school fees to hundreds of relatives until his demise, etc. Indeed, the vacuum he left will certainly be difficult to fill.
As one of his intimate grandchildren, I consider myself to be one of the most affected, physically and mentally, by this irreplaceable loss. Yaya impacted so much in my life in many positive ways. He taught me to be honest, resilient and hardworking. One thing is certain: whenever you interacted with Yaya you must learn something before leaving.
Apart from the usual visits I could randomly pay and greet him in his living room, I used to spend quality time with Yaya every weekend in the morning. We discussed national issues, politics etc.
When he was challenged by old age and moved downstairs, I could see him almost every day. Yaya was not just a grandfather, he was a mentor and friend to me. He had confidence and trusted me to the core. On two occasions he had done something I will always remember and remain indebted to him forever.
One Saturday when I was to be with him but couldn’t because of a wedding fatiha I attended, I received a phone call from him around 12:50am and he said, “Yau bulaguro kayi ne baka zo ba?’’ I calmly explained that I attended a wedding fatiha. He added, “In kayi kazo ina neman ka.’’ I did not waste any time after dropping the call; I went straight to see him. I saw him sitting on his usual spot in the couch. I greeted him and he immediately handed a brown envelop to me. I had no idea what was in the envelop, however, I patiently waited for his instructions. He directed me to open it and read. Guess what was in the envelop: a letter and house documents, which were duly signed by him and his four eldest children. He had granted me a house. As I was reading the paper, he gazed at me and I couldn’t contain my happiness.
On the second occasion in 2014, I sat for an aptitude test for an employment opportunity. We were later called for an interview and screening. Although I was confident of my performance, we were all curious because there were speculations that the number of applicants that attended the interview was far more than the number of the available vacancies. However, one Saturday when I visited Yaya, he handed over to me another envelop and asked me to open it. Guess what? It was employment letter. I was too astonished to express my gratitude on that memorable day. Moreover, when I graduated from the university, before I went for the youth service scheme, Yaya placed me on a weekly stipend. Every Saturday I visited him he would give me the stipulated amount before I departed. In fact, life will never be the same without Yaya.
He showed me love and care. He will forever remain in our mind. I will miss the Ramadan meals he offered when I went for “Barka da shan ruwa.’’ And one would be made to eat the meal, even if one had eaten.
Life is always full of hope; however, it will be difficult to find replacement for Yaya. He deeply penetrated our souls. Allah Ya ji kan Yaya Ya sa shi a Aljannah Firdaus.
Musa Sani Khalil (Yaya)