To a Best Friend, Dear to My Heart:
PROF. ABDULHAMID ISA-DUTSE @ 60
by ZAINAB A. GWADABE
13th day of three different months stand unique in my life:
13th March was my father's Birthday.
13th June my own Birthday.
13th December my husband's Birthday.
I chose today 13th December, 2020 as a very special day to continue to mourn and posthumously appreciate my late husband, Prof Abdulhamid Isa Dutse.
It was supposed to be his 60th Birthday and we have had a secret plan to organise a surprise celebration to thank the Almighty Allah for his life. As mortals we had anticipated that he would have reached 60 years today. Little did we know that Allah had the best of plans for him. Death shortchanged us by 69 days. He died, Monday 5th October 2020.
Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun! To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return! Mourning the death of a husband is beyond imagination except for women who have tasted it. I have mourned my wonderful mother since 1997. I have also mourned my beloved father for the 8th year now since December 2012. However, mourning for a unique husband like Prof A.I. Dutse is indescribable! While alive, he had covered the wound for the unquantifiable loss of my two parents of blessed memories.
I write this tribute for my special man, 'OGA MI' as I fondly called him with flowing tears that would continue to flow till my own time. As a muslim, I have the firm belief that he has indeed returned to his Creator. However, I still see his death as a dream of reality!!
Prof Abdulhamid was my best friend in the true meaning of friendship, with all the love, honesty and loyalty. We had really shared the meaning of friendship together. We had confided in each other not as husband and wife alone, but as best of friends, and as a brother and sister. I had been his 'confidant' as he used to call me. We had also shared common interests in terms of our ways of life. The 23 years we knew each other are therefore really Nostalgic Memorabilia for me now that he's gone!!
I have read Tributes written in his memory by friends, colleagues, students, acquaintances and subordinates, in relation to his work, clinical practice, teaching, administration and his good qualities of being a gentleman.
To confirm those encomiums, his other part of life (personal life at home) which is an essential contributor to the impressions he imprinted on the thoughts of anybody that crossed his path need to be 'exposed' because they are EXCEPTIONALLY WORTHY, TO EMULATE.
I am not the only one that knew him in that perspective, but I have had the privilege of knowing him in two different circumstances at the same time. He was my Big Boss and Senior Colleague in the office and at the same time my 'Boss' (husband) at home. I can therefore, confidently attest to those testimonies as regards to his character.
He was described by his staff as the best CMD, the best uncle (Kawu) by his nieces and nephews, the best brother by his own siblings. And a great friend by his friends.
At the office, I knew him as a progressive leader with a remarkable fear of God, always guided by the teachings of the great Islamic scholars and leaders.
He was firm in decision making and a no-nonsense leader in terms of indiscipline and negligence of duty. He was also soft and compassionate to staff in terms of their welfare, careful in handling their rights and privileges.
He also had great vision for training and development of individuals and groups to be able to excel in their endeavours. As a leader he was also prudent with Government Finances.
At the Homefront, I consider him the best father to his children and the best husband to us. He would have been the best grandfather if he had lived longer.
He was gentle, loving, patient, tolerant and exceptionally generous that he never allowed us to be in need. In his modest approach to life, he took great care of all our needs and never cared about my own salary. His generosity extended even to my own siblings for whom he had covered (for them) the death of my father, eight years ago. He had been a very loyal friend who was always there for me and had been a shoulder to cry on.
Prof was a real family man. Amidst his tight schedules and busy way of life, he also had time for his family for outings, for hangouts, for travels, for shopping etc. He was also fond of some gift surprises as he deemed appropriate.
Although he was firm and steadfast in taking decisions, ‘Oga Mi' was also liberal in his dealings with us as he allowed us to handle our lives the way we wanted within our human limitations.
As human mortals, it was never always a bed of roses with Abdulhamid. In case he got angry he would perform ablution and keep quiet. In case, at fault, he would easily apologise and could withdraw an action or statement. On few occasions he could be stubborn and only tactics of friendship could pacify and calm him down. Allah Sarki!!
His relationship with neighbours was also exemplary. He helped those in need and cooperated with others for mutual benefit as situations warranted.
Although Prof would have been regarded as belonging to the high social status based on his intellect, talent or position, he was always simple and humble in spite of his charisma and poise.
Prof was a real encouragement to me in terms of religious activities. We were never tired of performing Tarawih and Tahajjud prayers in the mosque together for 18 years. He also encouraged me to organise “iftar” for the needy at home every Ramadan. He also encouraged me to contribute towards development of mosques and islamic schools whenever an opportunity to do so presented.
Personally, 'Oga Mi' was a very good companion and a very good talker! We could chat and jist through the middle of the night or watch films as time permitted. At other times we could stay up to keep each other's company when we had papers or reports to write. When it was time for night prayers we separated rooms so that we talked to God separately.
Upon all the above and more we shared, Abdulhamid had a strong fear of God with which he handled the family. In his own wisdom, he had his ways of balancing the equation of being just and fair to both his MECCA and MEDINA as he called our two homes. I happened to be the MEDINA!....
I could go on recalling memories about 'Oga Mi' with tears of hope that I could see him again when I know it can only be possible now in my dreams.
We spent the last seven days of the remaining eight days of his life together in Lagos following a referral by the Cardiologists in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) to go for an Angiography to detect the chest pain he complained of on 11th September, 2020.
While in Lagos, we discussed alot, recalled good memories, appreciated good times, had excellent prayers and appreciation. However he never gave me a clue as to whether he knew the end was close by. I was also not told by my uncle Abdullahi Adam (ABBA AA) who was our host in Lagos whether he gave him any clue about his death. I only recalled him telling the doctors that he had never expected a long life and that for any additional year of his birthday, he had considered it as a bonus...
He had also requested me to forward to his phone the pictures I snapped of him at the hospital. When I did, he replied, "an eventful 60th year! Allah sa mu cika da imani". We didnt know that the countdown was just ending...
We returned to Kano on Sunday 4th October, 2020.
We were picked from the airport by his childhood friend Dr. Omar Faruk Ibrahim. He dropped me at home, saw the children and left with all thanks and a big hug, with a promise to come back later. That big hug broke my heart without understanding what was meant to be..
Throughout that afternoon, I continued to recieve calls from family and friends for our successful return. Prof. Mahmud of AKTH called to arrange to visit later that day.
As God destined, Abdulhamid couldn’t come back that evening to the MEDINA because he was with his brother Habibu up to 11pm. As early as 6.28am on Monday 5th October, I sent whatsapp greetings to him but was not responded to..
At 10.02 am that Monday morning, I missed Abdulhamid's call while at the kitchen. I called him back at 10.06 am only for me to hear his voice in distress that he was in pains, "bani da lafiya".
He told me he had spoken with Prof. Mahmud and was going to see him at the hospital. He asked me to follow him and also arrange for a wheelchair because he could not walk.
I quickly met him at the ECG Unit in distress, but was conscious and reciting the “kalimatus shahada”. We proceeded to the ICU. I was told to be on standby because arrangements were being made for us to return to Lagos via Air Ambulance. Alas,the countdown was very near!!
Around 8.20pm, he gave up the last breath! Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun!!
The sight by me while his last breath was taken will forever remain fresh in my memory. I am only consoled that he died a befitting death that any muslim is praying for!!
The Almighty Allah has indeed answered his usual prayer, “Allah sa mu cika da imani! Allah sa mu gama lafiya!!”
For every position he served, he would say, "better leave when the ovation is high". He therefore never wanted to overstay! Abdulhamid actually left us at the time he was needed the most! We needed his wisdom. We need his support. We need his judgement. We need his humour. And we need his love. Allah knows best and He loved him most.. He returned him back to where he belonged.
Allahu Akbar!!! May the soul of Abdulhamid Isa Dutse continue to rest in peace and be uplifted to the highest standards in al-Jannatul Firdaus, amin.
While I recall your words of consolation in 1997, at the time of my mother's death, you advised me to be strong to make her know in her grave that she had a dependable daughter; to take care of my siblings the way she would have continued.
As I pray for the repose of your soul now, I also pray that I should be a strong mother to take care of the children you left behind, in the way you would have wanted; to bring the best out of them, “Ihdinas-siraad’ al-mustaqim..”.
ZAINAB AHMAD GWADABE (Mrs. A.I. Dutse) writes from AKTH, Kano