Lami Fatima Babare, my beloved wife, my friend, the mother of my children. Today marks one week of your painful death. When we got married on the 30th of October, 1992, our dream was to grow old together; to live to the age when we will walk about alone in the house with walking sticks after sending all the children on their course, reliving our early love once again, with our grandchildren, great grandchildren and more to give us some fulfillment after the long struggle to prepare our children for their life’s journey.
But He who created you from my rib for me knew you would leave me in the cold night of 6th of March, just two days after your 52nd birthday.
You sang for me, you danced for me, you brought laughter to my life, to our home. You made me excel because I wanted to be your king. My life too revolved around you. Everything I did was for you, because of you or in consideration of you.
You were always there for me; in your eyes I was the father and mother you didn’t have. I was your husband, friend and brother too. Your love was genuine and so was your submissiveness to my authority as your husband.
When you were diagnosed with cervical cancer over a year ago, it was a rude shock to us. You knew, we all knew, it was just a matter of time. It became debilitating for the month you remained bed ridden as the unmerciful disease ate up your inside.
From Tuesday, 6th of February to Monday, 5th of March when you finally gave up the ghost, it had been from one hospital to another and one surgery after another. Yet you were always full of praise to your creator. I witnessed this because I was always with you, by your side all the days.
I recall when you were to undergo a procedure called Bilateral Nephrostomy in which tubes were inserted into your left and right sides so as to empty your bowels as your kidneys’ functions had been impaired. We held hands by the hospital theatre entrance and your words were ‘Allah abun godiya’.
You were submissive to His will and struggled on, with strength. All of us that saw you were all the time in tears but not a drop of it from your large, beautiful, enchanting eyes. You were a woman with all the attributes of women but your strength was the envy of men and my source of strength and confidence.
You put up a gallant fight for your life, but death is an inescapable foe. It does its work at the time given to it by the creator. No one escapes their appointed time.
You achieved a lot. You made me a man, always a source of comfort to me and a pillow that cushioned my heart.
You gave birth to, and nurtured, six wonderful children, one of whom became a lawyer at 22 while three are at various levels in the university. You have left behind two beautiful grand children from your first daughter.
We all will miss you. Your friends will miss you. Your relations will miss you. Mine will miss you. Your students at FCE (T), Potiskum will miss you.
FCE (T) Potiskum is where you served diligently as a lecturer for 27 years without a query or reprimand of any kind and you rose to become a senior lecturer and deputy director of its remedial programme. You were also a dedicated unionist.
Even though neither the college’s management nor the COEASU executive sent a delegation to visit you on your death bed, I know that you have forgiven them because you were large hearted, generous, gentle and forgiving by nature.
I have been in tears since you left me but the tears are not for you; you are in a better realm now. The tears are for me. Your death has opened me up because the foundation on which my life was built was you. I now realise my home is no longer like home, because you were my home.
Because you were there, I could afford to move about in the world in a carefree way, knowing that you got my back. It is now a new era for me. There is no time, but I have to start again. One’s first marriage is generally one based on sincere love because it’s generally effected by contributions from family and friends. Any other after is because one can. One cannot replicate with any other what one has done with the first wife.
My only regret is that I did not take a photograph with you on your sick bed. There was always a sort of shyness between us; with you sometimes I behaved like a child in front of his mother. Perhaps I didn’t want to think I was taking the pictures as a way of saying good bye. And there was always that reserve of hope, however faint, that anything – positive – could happen with your case.
I also regret not snapping you when you lay lifeless. I touched your face tenderly, closed your slightly parted lips but it never occurred to me to take that physical snapshot, but that picture will remain indelible in my mind’s eyes.
As the curtains are drawn on your worthy, earthly life, a life well spent, I eagerly look to a reunion under the shades of the trees of Paradise so that we continue from where we stopped, where I will enjoy again the endless laughter from your sweet voice.
I know you are there. If your Paradise were under my feet then you have no problem because I had raised those feet to make way for you the day I married you. It is left for me to do what will make me meet you where you are waiting for me, by living well. Thank God there is a meeting place. If there was none, I wouldn’t know how to take what has happened. It would have been too much for my poor heart.
Till we meet there to part no more, my darling wife, in shaa Allah, Lami.