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For my friend

On 29 November 2013, I got a phone call from a former coursemate of mine asking me whether I had received any news on the accident of a friend and former coursemate Abdulrahman, which at that time I had no knowledge of. I immediately called my friend's phone number but a voice told me his number was switched off. I was still in a state of shock, fear and despair when I placed a call to his younger sister, who confirmed the bad news that my friend and his wife had indeed been involved in a car accident on their way to Yola town and that both of them were on admission at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH). Before I hung up I told her that I was coming over the next day to see him.

If I had known at that time that I would never see my friend alive again, never hear his voice again, never see the smile on his face again, I would have set out for Zaria immediately. By the time I got to Zaria the next day, he was already dead. The only consolation I got was that I was there to witness his funeral and say my final goodbye to him.

I first met Abdulrahman Jaafar when I got admission to read law at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He had grown up in Zaria and was the best coursemate to show us around the town. He was a kind, jovial and humble person and had a way to make one laugh or smile no matter how down one was.

However It was while we were in our third year in the University that Abdulrahman and I really became close—so close that we started reading together, eating together, until I eventually moved into his family house in the area of the town known as tudun wada. When I moved into his family house I became like a member of the family. There were some children in the house who were also students but unlike me they were not in Zaria in the name of western education; they were there for their informal Islamic education. Abdulrahman's parents, out of their generosity and philanthropy, accommodated and fed some of them who came from distant places like Kano, Katsina and even neighboring Niger republic.

Abdulrahman was truly a friend and brother from another parent. Before I became close to Abdulrahman, I used to see myself as an atheist or at best an agnostic. I was not even bothered or afraid to tell people that I was not a true believer in religion. To me religion, especially Islam and Christianity, just seemed to breed hatred, enmity and rivalry leading to clashes and killings among adherents of the different religions. I saw myself as a Muslim simply because my parents were Muslims. I even used to enjoy debating with Muslims and Christians but he rekindled the light of Islam in me and I soon found myself going to the mosque to pray without been asked or forced.

Abdulrahman was a music fan. I also loved music but my taste was restricted to blues, rap and rock-n-roll. He opened my ears to reggae music, which I back then thought was the music of weed smokers, most of whom were truants and a menace to society, but he introduced to the songs of great reggae artists like Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, etc.

We shared a lot of memorable events in the university. I don't think this platform can really do justice to those memories. Our till daybreak (TDB) nights when we used to study through the night determined to make it and become lawyers still remain fresh in my memory, along with the uncountable candles and mosquitoe incense that died at our hands.

I remember the time I got ill, contracted cystitis, an illness that causes pain in the abdominal region, he took care of me and shared the night with me when I couldn't sleep because of the severe pain I was going through. He endured my shouts of pain as I tried to cope with the excruciating pain. He was there for me and shared the pain with me. I don't think any of my coursemates would have taken care of me the way he did.

The walks to and fro from his place to the campus for lectures and back, the Student Union Government (SUG) campaign and election for Shehu (another coursemate killed in a different car accident two years back)...those were indeed the wild days as we all put in our best to see that Shehu won the presidency of the student union government. Abdulrahman was one of those on the frontline with no hypocritical desire to see that Shehu got elected. I preferred to stay invisible behind the scene but with the same zeal and desire to see Shehu's success; I was just been truthful to myself as an introvert.

One of my greatest regrets is that after our university days we began to drift away from each other. I got employment with my state's ministry of justice as a government lawyer while he got employed by the directorate of state security (DSS). The nature of our work, especially his own, robbed us of the time to spend with each other, and then he got married and settled down.

While in the university we had not really been skirt chasers. I'm not saying we didn't have any interest in the opposite sex—we did go fishing for some, but it was never really serious. We preferred to concentrate on our studies, determined to become lawyers. His wedding remains a memorable event that I will never forget. It changed our status quo, as he left the bachelors club and joined the married men club. Like a true friend and brother he kept pestering me to get married and also settle down, but I kept creating one excuse after another to put off my own wedding. I just wish he were still alive to witness and share in my own wedding.

Sometimes I find myself on the Internet. I go to my Facebook page and there he is among my friend list. I open his pictures and find myself staring at them with tears in my eyes as I remember the past. I go to Whatsapp and the chats I had with him are still there. It often feels as if he is still alive and at any moment will come back online so we can continue our chat, but then reality steps in and tells me that it will never happen.

If I could be given a chance to battle death over his life I would have gladly taken the challenge. But death comes and takes at its own time and convenience, and no man dead or alive can challenge it. I also wonder whether he would still be alive if Nigerian roads were not the killing machines they have been turned into as a result of bad and corrupt leadership.

Like all humans he had his weaknesses and shortcomings, but all of that just fades away in the light of his good deeds.

Abdulrahman Jaafar, now that you are gone all I can do is pray for you, pray that you have found peace, pray that your final abode is heaven, pray that we still meet again.

Adieu Abdulrahman till we meet to part no more.
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