It was the best of times..
It was the worst of times..
It was the season of Life..
It was the season of Death..
We had everything before us..
We had nothing before us..
We celebrate the Legacies left behind
We cry our souls out in mourning
For Hajiya Babba and Kakan Deezy.
For lovers of literature, this resembles the opening of a tale of two cities by Charles Dickens. It has always been a favorite of mine. And for this, it resonates a certain truth that I wish to express.
The contrast is not between the two great individuals I briefly talk about in this. Nay, on so many levels they were all too similar. Strong, brave, generous, beautiful, nurturing and that squeaky clean typa soul kinda. Yes, were. Sadly, they are no longer with us. And I can’t begin to express the void created by their loss. So i won’t try. The best I can do, is tell my story.
It is not an emotional story. Maybe it doesn’t have any meaning at all. But I reminisce. Childhood memories of the little time I spent with these two amazing women.
They both lived in Tudun Wada. One in Katsina (Hajiya Babba), the other in Zaria (Kakan Deezy). One was light skinned, the other dark. One gave treats of Fura da Nono as nightcap, the other ordered freshly made alele (moi moi) from the best joint in town. Both were very religiously conscious people. Both were highly disciplined. Both were highly adored and loved by all around them, especially their children. Both provided a safe and nurturing environment for my growth. Both are now gone from this world.
Kakan Deezy was the most reserved and patient person I’ve known my entire life. She was too gentle for her own good. She lets things slide too easily. Forgave too often and always thought the best of people. Although, I’m still perplexed by the name kakan deezy. Her last born was hadiza, nicknamed deezy. So shouldn’t it be maman deezy? Well, we grew up with that as her name. But her real name was Fatima. Beautiful, calm, independent Fatima. Sweet, caring Fatima.
Kakan Deezy was almost like a mother to me at one point in my childhood. Pampo was the go-to place every weekend. Every other day. It was my healing place after kachiya (circumcision). It was always filled with boisterous laughs. It was a very happy time.
She provided a safe environment for me to develop. To grow. And you know she always got your back, if you are a grandchild. I remember going to her when I wanted something I knew my mother will oppose.
I remember my mother always complaining that kakan deezy is going to spoil us. She did everything in her power to be there for us. To give us whatever we needed… or wanted. Ha, and the best part, she could easily override our mother’s decision. So, you know, what kid wouldn’t want that 🙂
I dont really know where she got the name Hajiya Babba. Others call her Hajiya Amarya. Perhaps because she was the last wife of our late grandfather. That should be another interesting story. But her real name was Aisha. And she was beautiful. Genuinely Caring. Flawless skin. Perfect dentition. And her sense of sarcasm was top notch. She had a thing for being playful.. Unless matters of education arise, or religion. Then, she wasn’t shy to use the rod. oh, she did use the rod.
I was very little then, and a very quiet lad, but Ustaz, Sadik, Umar (cousins) did receive the short end of the cane when they misbehaved. Perhaps the cane is still hung up there in her room..
She loved her children and Grandchildren. She was generous beyond reason. Unduly, excessively generous.
i remember yar kutungu. A market close to her home in Katsina. Like every traditional market, it has a specific day for activity. I think it was every Wednesday or was it twice a week? The details fade. But the experience will forever be marked.
Every time yar kutungu is active, Hajiya Babba dips into her purse and tells me to explore the market. I didn’t have any need per se. Nor anything in particular I wanted to buy. But I remember going through the market, and just exploring. Watching transactions being made, looking for stuff to get. Most times I go and come back empty handed. Other times, I find something I like to buy.
I close my eyes and I can remember the excitement I feel when it is holiday season and we are going to Katsina. The thrill to see Hajiya and her gifts. Her nightly Fura da Nono. Her laughs.
I lost these two women in the span of two weeks. it requires some processing.
The thing with death is, you really can’t fathom how it will feel, until it happens. There is no trick to help nullify the after effect nor prepare oneself for the shock. The void created by these two women is massive. Perhaps time will dull the feelings away…
“We live our lives with the glaring awareness that we are going to die. Our loved ones too. In the end, it is that one beautiful constant. But being aware of its possibility, doesn’t mean we are ever ready to face it. Not our own, and certainly not of those we hold close to our hearts. We become so used to navigating life’s challenges, in an almost master-like fashion. All except death. We are terrified by the unknown as we are of change. Even though our minds register that as the only avenue for growth.. We die. It doesn’t mean we end. We just die. As muslims, we must take comfort in the reassuring music of inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’uun. in its depth, totally, unequivocally. That we have an origin. We have a purpose. We have a destination. And in its heart, we have lived our lives as best as we could.”
My two grandmothers have lived and without a doubt, have left holes so massive, all the mountains in the world couldn’t fill.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’uun.
I chant these words, now with a smile and not the gloomy face, reassured that we shall all be reunited in jannah. After I have kakan deezy’s Alele, I’ll make a desert out of hajiya Babba’s Fura da Nono.
Written by Bugaje Al-amin Bashir