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Tribute to Abdulwahab Magaji – Oct. 4th 1983 – May 6th 2024, by Hauwa Ibrahim

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Tribute to Abdulwahab Magaji – Oct. 4th 1983 – May 6th 2024, by Hauwa Ibrahim

The deceptive charmer

As if it was yesterday, but it’s been over forty years, I was with your Mother, Hajia Aishatu Magaji (my older sister) at the Specialist hospital in Bauchi, Bauchi State, Nigeria; laying on a floor mat waiting for your arrival. She was in pain and hardly moving her legs. She woke in the middle of the night for me to help her, but I would be deeply sleeping—whatever was close to her, she would throw at me to wake me up. Your arrival was heralded with great joy. You were beautiful inside and out. You were very cute, and you were showered with so much love by your parents, Alhaji Audu Magaji and your mom. Least to say your grandmother, Mama Maryamu Ibrahim, your great grandmother, Nana Jummai Ali Lubo, your grandfather Daddy Magaji Difa, Your grandmother Kaka Jummai Magaji Difa, many more grannies, grand Aunts, Aunts and more. The day of your birth, I was at the hospital. I guess I was the first to see you after the midwife and your Mom. Indeed, I claimed you to be mine. I thought you looked like me, even though your wife, Maryam doubts it. You were about two years when your father traveled to the United Kingdom for his studies where your Mom would later join him. I was left with you and your older brother, Bashir Magaji. We bonded.

You later joined the Air Force Military School in Jos for your high school, I guess following a “spell” of grandmother, mother Mama Maryamu Ibrahim. She always referred to you at a very tender age, as “soja” meaning soldier and to your older brother Bashir as “likita”, Doctor. Your life was full of adventure, but never devoid of boredom. You were mostly proactive, determined, ambitious with a taste of quality. I remember shortly before COVID, in 2019, we spoke by phone. I was in a shoe outlet in Italy. The shoe outlet was going out of business and I called you to ask, if you would be interested in me buying the shoes, and you selling them in Nigeria. You said: “Ok, how much?” It was to be a joint venture business. I bought the shoes, but I couldn’t send them. Later on my trip, I took some. When you saw them, you made no comment— and had no interest in discussing it further. With your usual charming smile, you dismissed the shoes. They were not up to your standards—You know quality and insist on it. Indeed, you are seldom known for reacting under strenuous circumstances or heard to place blame on others. Friends and family attest to your reliable ability to cover for others, when they may be exposed or could be in an embarrassing situation. Part of your charm was admitting mistakes, even in the face of adversity, a brave position to take. How charming to combine all these with the powerful tools of humility and ability to competently accomplish tasks.

You did your National Youth Service in Abuja, Nigeria, and stayed at our house in Wuse, Abuja, which would be your home for over twelve years, until you passed away. Over the past fifteen years plus, Aries law firm (Dionisotti’s Chamber}, our legal firm, gave you your first job after NYSC. Even though you read nothing related to law, you were able to fit into any role the office assigned to you. You later joined a security outfit in Abuja and afterwards, the Nigeria Custom Service, where you rose to be a Chief Superintendent of Customs. Your last two promotions in the Customs service came in rapid succession. We were thrilled. Earlier, you had mentioned your desire to move on from Customs to do something else in life. I encouraged you as the Hausa saying goes– (kada a sake reshe ka kama ganye) “Don’t let go of a branch and hold onto a leaf”, –essentially, don’t be in a hurry to leave the Customs service unless you are sure of your next move. You seemed to have agreed, so your promotions were a time for joy and thanksgiving. Your new position in the Custom service, a senior officer, humbled you even more. Whenever, I visit Nigeria, in my busy life, I saw you almost every morning and every evening. You would always “stand at attention” to greet me with the charming, never-ending smile, my Malam Officer (my name for you). You always unearthed a murmuring stream meandering with the serenity of innocence, the real you.

You churn and whirl in the hearts of many. Most importantly, your wife Maryam, your three beautiful girls, Laila, Zara and Maryam (Mini), your adoring Mother (whom I wasn’t sure would survive another day since your passing, but by the grace of the Almighty Allah), your Dad, siblings, Yaya Bashir Magaji, Hussaina and Hassan Magaji, close and distant families, friends, colleagues, neighbours people you have never met, but extended your charm to them. Yesterday, (May 20th ) I returned to Abuja after spending time with your beautiful family in Kano and in Gombe, a little more time with your mother (we mourn in community)—I arrived at our house, in Abuja where you spent the past more than twelve years, with Uncle Joseph Audu, and his family, Malam Bello (Our security guard) and his wife. I thought, It’s been over a week since you went into that “deep sleep”—I thought emotions would be tempered. I was totally wrong. The entire house of about ten people erupted with mourning, and tears flowed freely. After about two hours, Malam Bello when he regained his voice to speak said, Our house is empty because (Abdul, babu, Abdul is gone) and Uncle Audu, whom I thought was calmer, broke down completely and kept saying, “Uncle Abdul has never lied to me in the over 12 years I knew him, but this time he deceived me. He told me he was traveling to visit with his family in Kano and coming back, but he is not coming back and it pains me deeply”.

Abdul, my Malam officer, you were spelled, you were a charm, you retreated silently and loudly; sounds like an oxymoron; indeed, it was. Your trap of charm was unassuming. You snaped shut on us—sometimes you were an element of surprise; however for the most part, what you see is what you get. Over these days, I and many uncountable others had lamented, hoping we should have been careful to not have given you the “keys to your hearts”, had we have known that you were going to use them to lock us up in a cage of awe and shock. This, I must confess, my singular wish, is that you are here to see how much you are loved and how we miss you Soo, so much. As your daughter Laila said amidst tears. Ooh, your visions of a family. Your heavenly soul, Malam Officer, now nests in the heights—the ego’s grasp achieves a true awaking union with the Almighty Allah. It was indeed tired of its house on earth, so it abandoned the flesh, the body, and took its final flight, granting such request and the aspiration of the skies.

Abdulwahab, you are also a pearl now in the bottom of the sea, now so hard and difficult to reach. There may be a lot going on inside you, and you detached yourself from those worldly splendors and glistening to be alone and rest. You may truly want to be in the presence of God and to know your real self. Since your unexpected journey to that greater space, we are trying to make sense of your presence with us. Every time we try to dive into this sea of our unimaginable longing to be with you, the waves keep pulling us back. We have yet to overcome those waves. We will continue to dive deep into our being, and find the tiny pearl of unity with you as we, all mortal, will have to confront our end as well. Someday we hope that the tiny, invisible pearl nestled deep inside the endless Ocean of our soul will connect us.

For now, this is a bet that none of us has taken. We love and attach ourselves to the people and things in our life. We can’t imagine any other way. But all these people and things in life, as great as they can be, also have the potential to pull us away from God. And that is why we often feel a deep emptiness or sadness inside, even though we may be surrounded by the people and things we love. May we be sober and learn that the key to happiness is to be one with God, the secret sound of the soul which can be heard by the spiritual heart, not by one’s ears or mind. It requires deep and tranquil silence, honed through many hours of reflection, meditation, letting go and letting be.

As we memorize you in every way, we ourselves desire to enter into quiet silence of the soul to listen to what it reveals, its secrets, true wisdom, and peace. While we sojourn this lowly earth, your passing is reminding us that we too, one day will travel to the deep or fly to the skies, when our soul which is from God, returns to Him. (Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiun) You are missed. You made your silent retreat from your deceptive charm. Only now, I am beginning to realize that it was bait after all. I will keep listening to that secret sound of revelation, when your quest aspires the skies. Fly away from this lowly earth, you did.

Sleep on, belove husband of Maryam, adoring father of Laila, Zara, and Mimi. A son like none, of your parent, Alhaji Audu And Hajia Aisha, brother to Bashir, Hassan, Hussaina and Umar, a lover of people, a giver without boundaries, a nourisher of millions, a young-man with boundless capacity, an officer with goodness in your heart. Sleep deeper because you have no yearning in your heart to wake. Sleep on with countless facets as we send you off with the highest level of admiration and love to the divine entity until we join you in your deep sleep.

With sincere gratitude to the ALL Powerful, Merciful, the ever-knowledgeable Almighty Allah, rest Malam Officer, our star in the galaxy, the charming thief who steals hearts and never fails because you are the friend of the One and in unity with HIM, GOD, THE ALMIGHTY.

Hauwa Ibrahim Esq, writes from Milan, Italy

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