To These Ones Gone Before Us-Tribute To Shizzy, Halima And D2 By Nkannebe Raymond

‘A friend who dies, it’s something of you who dies’- Gustave Flaubert

As the previous day gave birth to a new break of dawn, every other thing
Fell in place; it was September 29th, 2012, the day the sea of providence ushered me into the shores of this part of the world which I continue to wish every now and again such grace never smiled at me…….

Life was good, the skies were clear and adorned in their glorious colours;
……. The trees in the surrounding environment swirled their branches as though Nature was also sharing in my celebration……

By now, the text messages accompanying well wishes from family and friends were already towering as though my Blackberry device would cave in. The sound of music billowing from my room echoed as far as the heavens. What is more? Raymond is +1, and who doesn’t want to share in his celebration?

Penultimate week, Shizzy had celebrated his birthday amidst pomp and pageantry at the famous 202 Housing Estate. I and shizzy a forthnight ago had wanted putting up a gig together with Umar(Halima’s younger brother) but certain circumstances wouldn’t let that be.

If Shizzy and friends had been told that his (Shizzy’s) days in this great wilderness men call life were numbered, who would have given ear to such? Certainly not for a chap known across the length and breadth of the Campus as always full of life. Not for a guy who saw the world from the prism of music and had lately literarily gotten married to his art. When Shizzy is not in the class or his crib, save yourself that airtime, niccur will definitely be in the studio grinding his nose, making real cool music. Oh! Death, why does thou take when we are in the least of expectation?

Another beep from my phone, saw Shizzy sending his birthday wishes. His words: ‘HBD biggest bro; have all the fun life could offer+ see you at the party later’. Vintage Shizzy!

But did he ever make it to the party? No. Providence had other choices. Shizzy Unbeknownst to us all had scarcely 10 hours to breathe to the good and bad that life has in its baggage and unfortunately enough, it is the latter that would scuttle him down-sad world!

And so i continued with putting things in place for my moment of moments coming up, much later in the day in great anticipation for Shizzy, Halima and D2’s presence to share in my joyous moments.

The moment even the birds of the air also anticipated soon came. 5pm it was and my party was almost getting started. Many friends were by now trooping in en masse into my apartment in keeping their own part of the social contract we had (Honouring my invitation). But shizzy and co were yet to come around. What could be the reason? I thought to myself in between exchange of pleasantries and good remarks with some guests.

A little later, Umar and her younger sister who had just been admitted into the college of Medicine soon came in amidst loud cheers and exchange of good-natured remarks.

And so the day continued and we later settled down into the business of the day with all the fun unadulterated, but it was Shizzy’s unexcused absence that left me wondering as to what could have been the reason since he had earlier on given me his words and Shizzy was not the type to renege on his words or promises. Little did I know that as such thoughts permeated my deepest within, Shizzy and friends were either on the verge of being murdered in the pool of their blood or already murdered. But for the curfew imposed, i had wanted to check him up at his apartment but had to wait till the break of dawn.

Sunday soon came, but there was never a Sunday as cold and serene as the 30th of September, 2012, vehicular traffic was almost absent, the 202/303 Housing Estate was almost deserted and a grave yard silence took over its environs. The military operatives rummaged every nook and cranny of the University and its neighbourhood with their sirens blaring to the heavens that makes you want to conclude something is amiss. This use to be a usual occurrence, but todays was just not it. Something must be wrong somewhere i thought to myself even as i shrugged my shoulders and continued to clean my apartment that was reduced to a near mess as a result of the madness of the preceding night.

Some two hours later, the sad news came. Its harbinger: one Gilbert of the Department of Biochemistry. Dashing into my room, he told me and a couple of friends, ‘una hear wetin happen?’ the emotions on his face and the empathy with which he spoke was enough to ruin my day as i already knew something terrible was in the offing.

Like dazed flying insects against lighting bulbs, we asked in unison, ‘wetin be that?’ lo and behold the sad news came—‘Shizzy, Halima(Heych) and D2 were slaughtered yesterday night in their apartment while we celebrated here’.

Hell was let loose. The cloud lost it suppleness. The wind came to a halt. My heart sunk deep into my belly. Cold shiver took over the whole of me. My feet cluttered. My eyes turned red, my face went from its usual brightness to yellow, and then blue. Tragedy has struck. Of course Fate has it that we study in Maiduguri while the town boils and tragedy was almost literarily nothing to be bemused about. But today, tragedy has struck above my own roof.

I made to rush to his apartment but was told that the soldiers already got the area cordoned. I reached for my mobile device to hear from Umar who was here the previous day but just as you could guess, the line was either too busy or switched off!

No! It cannot be Shizzy, neither could it be Halima. Is it not the Halima that i had seen two days ago at the faculty? Is it not the shizzy and D2 that i had celebrated with barely a week ago? Is it not Shizzy that had spoken with me barely 14 hours ago? What then is this news that greets my audience?

My first encounter with Halima was at the Faculty of Law complex sometime in 2011. I could remember everything that happened that morning vividly. It was a cold Monday morning and i was dressed in a dark suit with a sky-blue shirt that blazed forth from within and a dark-blue neck tie. As I strolled the balcony, i came across her and before passing by, she said, ‘ wao! Nice suit’. It was an encounter enough to seal our friendship. We got to know each other better when she found out i was friends with Shizzzy (whom she would later date even though the university community saw them as siblings even until their death) and Umar her younger brother. She never stopped complementing my sense of fashion at any given opportunity. I would later know that Halima’s best colour is blue. Little wonder, she couldn’t help, but steal that compliment the other day.

Shizzy had always been a friend and a brother. Course mates with my roomie Squealer and a friend to almost everybody in the compound. Who would have a thing against Shizzy? Certainly not on a soul as gracious as his. I remember lucidly the day he spilled a liquid Chemical gum on my curtains which i had just collected from the laundry. As much as i tried washing off the stain, it won’t just go and to this day, whenever i set my eyes to it, it is the thought of Shizzy that comes to mind.

A fortnight ago before his demise, he had seen an orange wrist band around my wrist. Shizzy was not the type to envy. He confessed his admiration and likeness for the jewellery and asked that i give it to him. I had pulled it off and handed it over to him. It remained around his wrist all the time we met after that day and i am sure as God made white pigeons, the status quo was maintained even as the harbingers of death brought an end to a career that had the prospect of super success and excellence…..;

Oh! Shizzy, why did you leave us just so soon? What about these sheep you superintended but had just too soon left unannounced? Who have you left to tend to these flocks of yours? Whom have you left Sound Unit to spearhead its activities? Why did you choose to desert the chicks no sooner than you have hatched them? It is true you left us your legacies and a sea of inspiration to lead us just the way Arkad, the richest man Babylon ever saw left his wards but we would that you were here amongst us.

My dearest Halima, I know you are out there watching me pen these letters. I see your very self reflecting on the pages of these plane sheets. As i write, your smiles bring tears to my eyes. I stretch out my hands to reach out for your supple and warm embrace but in futility that bid has only ended.

You were just in a class of your own…..
A law student you were, but you brought a newer perspective to the profession even as a student yet to be called to the Bar
You were so gifted that i have no doubt in my mind, that were you still in this realm, the world would have read the story of the many exploits you were set to make in the legal cum entertainment profession……
You were an inspiration to many; you were particularly an inspiration to me
You saw life as a place transient in nature and thus not a place to brandish things so mundane and materialistic. No better world captures you better than SIMPLICITY.

You were so down to earth, always beaming smiles in your bespectacled eyes. Some, who never came across one-on-one with you, saw you as a controversial fellow but once they meet your personality, the only world that exudes from their lips becomes ‘Wao!’
Who wouldn’t want to get associated with a girl that has not the word ‘Ego’ in her dictionary despite the wealth of the Damcida’s? Who wouldn’t want to be involved with a fellow that has understood that life is not a place to swim in the low and murky waters of pride? Yet that was what Halima stood for all her years in a life i wish i never was a part of.

Yet all these your killers betrayed and brought you to your demise in the most gruesome of manners. Leaving you lying there in the pool of your blood with your blood crying to the heavens for vengeance. Oh! What a sad and unjust world. Life is indeed an irony and a Jigsaw.

D2, though i never got to meet you one-on-one, but i heard lot about your gracious and wonderful personality. If friends of a feather flock together, then it is the same sterling qualities that must have commingled you with Shizzy and Heych-it is the same simplicity that must have attracted you all together and which also defined the relationship you all had.

Life to you was like a Basket and you saw the world like the game of Basketball; a game you know so well to play. When you are not on the court of play, then it is either you are in the class or in the studio with the team as they said.

A fly you would never hurt but fate and providence consigned you to such lowly and wicked death. The way of this world is not one to relish any day. A world where evil begets good and good begets evil. If wishes were horses, i am sure you wouldn’t have ridden along this thorny and sorrowful terrain!

A tribute to personalities such as Shizzy, Halima and D2 cannot be exhausted in words. No matter how much i have laboured, it has been difficult if not impossible to convey to every reader of these words and to the world at large, the mettle of personalities that we lost some 365 days ago; the seed of life crushed so soon, the seed of success germinating with all the vibrancy and vegetation it could gather, but yet pruned out of the soil by elements whom twist of providence cast a spell on that they toe such path of ignominy,…..

Many out there see them as your killers, but i see them a people acting at the behest of the gods. They may have done their bidding but i consider them to have done the greatest of service to you, yes you- Shizzy, Halima and D2
And if they still breathe to life today, the innocence of your souls continues to taunt and eat them up. They may have exterminated you but once, but they continue to die every now and again. Therefore, even in your death, you are victorious and until they meet their waterloo, let Nature be the Judge!

They have exterminated you from this life where the flesh is heir to suffering and despair and have launched you to that better life out there where i am upbeat you now inhabit in ecstasy.

To us in our hollow reasoning, you all have been sequestered from amongst us, but i consider thee fortunate in your misfortune and how i crave for the day i shall be cut off from this dark world and be reconciled with you all in that life where the flesh knows no pain and wickedness and where vice doesn’t become articles of faith…….

Shizzy, Heych and D2, that you left this world, the same day providence ushered me into it, is to me but an honour enough to be associated with such wonderful spirits as you all possess

It is my birthday today, but i am not celebrating by every stretch of the word. Rather on the contrary, mourning the day you left me, you left us much to our bewilderment and quagmire

Promising lives cut short so soon, the youth lost in oblivion, but then we are consoled in the fact that it was a life well lived and well spent despite its shallow duration…..

ShizzyHalimaD2, death has done its worse where you trio are. Cunning as she is, she took you off our grasp when we needed you most. When the world was ready to hear your voices.

There is nothing we could do to bring you back other than continue to pray that you rest in peace even as you are reconciled with your creator and let your kind spirits continue to guide our paths and those of whom you all have left behind…..

I love you all, we love you all, the entire community of the University of Maiduguri are so proud of your achievement and the musical works you left us,continue to inspire us.
Shizzy! UnimaidBackyard, was birthed as a result of your uncommon ingenuity. You were the brain behind it and you wanted it to be a platform where Maidites and their Alumni members will interact and relate to the things that affect them in their academic and socio-cultural life…..

Am glad that dream of yours have not been buried even in your death. That fire has continued to burn and the smouldering embers people of my ilk will continue to fan. Today, look where we’ve got to and we got the whole world waiting for us to surmount. We shall keep the fire burning as much as you keep the oil in our lamps and your legacies continue to guide and inspire us……

My eyes as so bulgy right now, the tears can’t wait to start obeying Newton’s gravitational pull. I must put a stop to this, lest i do not round it up

You have all gone before us, it is only a matter of time before we join you all and share in your ‘ecstasy’ knowing that mortal as we are, death has become a debt we must pay even though we know not who incurred same on our behalf…..

365 days it is today, since you left this enclave although physically for as far as i know, Shizzy, Halima and D2 lives on in my heart
Death has done its worse but all i see is fortune in your misfortune………until we meet to part no more, accept this as a token in recompense for all the beauty you have added to our world……

Al-Jannatu Firdaus no doubt is the abode where you are now seated. Enjoy it while we await the day Death grants us entry!

Adieu! Adieu!! Adieu!!!
Nkannebe Raymond is of the department of Public Law University of Maiduguri. He is on twitter as @yung_silky