When I woke up and quickly raced to office on that beautiful Monday morning, I had no premonition that death would sneak into our fold to do what it does best. It did, albeit in a commando style of mercilessness.
I was in the live studio with Adamu Muhammad Gabi, casting the eleven o’ news, when a missed call was registered in my call history. After the news,I didn’t bother myself to check the call because we were busy rearranging the bulletin when my phone buzzed again.
It was Sadeeq A. Dallatu. Dallatu’s voice was shaky and I sensed all was not well. But nothing prepared me for that breath taking news. ‘Hello S.A,ka ji wai Sulaiman ya rasu yanzu da safe’.
In a short moment, everything faded out and my world began to gyrate,and even with the air conditioner in the studio, sweat began to cascade from my body. I quickly cut the line and checked the missed call, it was Basheer Yusuf Gusau ,Sulaiman’s room mate in Talata Mafara, and he was the one that confirmed the sad story. Bash told me that he had barely settled down for the days job (at First Bank) when he was summoned home,informing him that Sulaiman had slumped down and was being rushed to the hospital.
Later that morning, as I slightly recovered and reached out to friends and associates via phone,I thought about the friendly guy I first met in 2009,who remained an integral part of everything I did until his death. To me personally, sulaiman was the role model next door. A near perfect guy. A replica of virtually everything I wanted to become: a Hafiz,hardworking, shy and accommodating. He never complained to me how this or that person treated him badly. He was the friendly guy that swallowed every nonsense and moved on.
Sulaiman was a very loyal and hardworking dude. These were the first two traits I learned about him when destiny jambed us together at Abdu Gusau Polytechnic Talata Mafara. Some kind of strange bonding between us emerged when we were accidentally asked to team up with the Special One, Sadiq M. Salees to edit the CAMPUS PRESS. Hitherto to that,Sadiq was the only active editorial board member among us. As we settled to take on the battle,I studied all the characters that made up the editorial team and Sulaiman was the only different one.
While I was opportune to be the Sport Editor, he was the Asst. Entertainment editor but his contributions outweighed that of everyone’s. He,along with the Production editor, Ibrahim Babangida ,would wake up at the dead of the night, walk out of the hostels premises to the School of Sciences to place the week contents. That was the routine every Sunday night for a whole one and a half year and he never for once complained that he was doing something not part of his duties.
One other quality of Sulaiman that I cherished was his contentment. He was completely serious and true to his status, which made him coped in the face of the worse life challenges but which also made him a golden star among his peers. Though he had a retinue of well to do brothers (sisters married to wealthy individuals) and friends that have excelled in life, Sulaiman worked tirelessly to make himself independent and happy.
When in December last year, I told him that I would be traveling to Talata Mafara for my Christmas break, he insisted that I stop in Kaduna for a day or two.I hated the idea of traversing that rough road from Bauchi-Saminaka-Kaduna,but he insisted and had his way. I went to Kaduna, spent a night, visited friends and associates before I left the following day. He took me to NDA bus stop and waited till it was time for Zuhr prayer, when he went to pray. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would set my eyes on him.
Three weeks ago,I went to Katsina for an interview and Sulaiman was one of my four friends that kept my phone busy throughout my sojourn in Katsina.I felt very ashamed that I was not the who told him that I was traveling. He had to find out from someone (probably Sadiq). But I was not surprised when he did accuse of not informing him. He wished me success and kept calling.
If there was any person who respected me and exaggerated my ability to do and undo as regards academics issues, then it was him.He saw me as his own personal role model and made it a duty upon himself to ‘worship’ my brain. He told other friends and people that I have never how intelligent and unassuming I am. While he was buy marketing me,little did he know that I was dying to be a simple minded shy person like him.
I have said it again and again and I think it deserves repetition that sulaiman had no iota of wickedness in his mind. I know this. Having shared same mattress on several occasions and ate in the same bowl for uncountable times either in talata mafara or Kaduna,I think I know a lot about the hero that broke our heart yesterday morning.
Sulaiman was an epitome of humility and honesty. Add simplicity and friendliness, and you have Suleiman. As we weep for your death,may it be that you’re there enjoying. May Allah (SWT) forgive your shortcomings, Ameen.
Mafara writes from Gusau.