My mum in 1982
My biological mother, Aishatu Onwaaza Usman, died yesterday, May 14, 2023 at about 10.30am. It is as simple as that, against the backdrop of the fact that death is a common thing we encounter every now and then.
However, the death of my mother created some kind of surprise and, if you like, curiosity to the point of rumination.
Of course, she had been bedridden for months from chronic arthritis in her two legs, but I didn’t expect that death would come so soon. Despite fairly bad health condition, she had remained alert, active and strong, to the point of participating actively in family matters. She was only complaining of inability to use her legs as she depended mainly on the wheel chair I got for her.
As usual with my job, I had embarked on an official trip to Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday, May 10, the same way I have always traveled far away, even outside the country, leaving her to the care of my wife and the aide that daily cleaned her up for a fee.
mother and I in 2022
However, while on this trip to Akwa Ibom, which also took me and my fellow online newspaper publishers to Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers States through to Saturday, I had gone to her room seeking for her prayer. She looked so weak and sober. In fact, some of her systems: the hearing and speech were fast collapsing, so much that her speech was turning into whispers.
I almost cancel the trip but my wife encouraged me to go.
While Criss crossing parts of the Niger Delta by road, I tried to keep my mind off the home front, especially the condition of my mother. The runs around Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa and Rivers States were no child’s play. So much that when I returned to my house on Saturday before noon, I looked spent and fagged out.
Just as I prepared to go for a fairly long rest, my wife came with a report that my mother had not eaten since I left for the journey. My wife and I rushed, in panic, to her room around 8pm to see how we could handle the matter. My mother lied down on her sofa, almost lifeless, safe for her chest that was still thumping.
My wife prepared a cup of tea and tried to feed her, using syringe. While she was doing that, my grown up children joined me in the recitation of some verses from the Holy Qur’an. By the time I have finished reciting Suratu Yaasin, my mother’s condition began to improve. She was now lifting her right hand up, away from the stillness in which we first met her.
mum in 2021
We virtually pet her to sleep after she had sipped some portion of tea through the syringe. We all went to sleep; mine was a troubled and disturbed sleep. I kept on thinking of what was going to happen. Would my mother die? Would she be able to regain her voice which had gone down to whisper? Would she be able to regain her hearing which had gone off? Would she come out of what looked like near death condition and join us again in life and living? Myriad of questions and conjecture, some of them wired, kept rising in my troubled head.
Hardly was the night fell and we went to “sleep” than the day broke. I got up 4am to say the usual morning optional prayer, went to the Mosque at 5.20 to offer the obligatory prayer and returned to my mother’s room with the children to resume the recitation of the parts of the Holy Qur’an and more prayers.
Thereafter, I tiptoed into my room almost sleep-walking and just as I was to collapse onto the bed for a few minutes rest, my wife trailed me into the room to announce “diplomatically” that my mother, Aishatu Onwaaza Usman had departed. Gone as in death?
What did I do? It was a moment of confusion, the first of it’s kind in my life. It was as if I was bombed.
Even though my mother was 86 years when she breathed her last yesterday, May 14, her death, though desired as it were, hit me like the bold from the blue!
From left: Danlami Nnmodu, Deputy President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP); Yusuf Ozi Usman (the host and GOCOP member) and Hassan Gimba, top member of GOCOP.
On many occasions, I took her for total medical checkup to the point of resolving her waning eyesight: She subsequently regained full eyesight even better than mine!
My mother and I were so close that, most times, as her health condition deteriorated in the last six months, I would not go to greet her without coming out in sad mood. It got to the point that I would avoid going to her for days. Despite that, she kept a tab on my going out and coming in, and even my general movement. Such a special bond between a mother and her son.
No wonder, therefore, that she just waited for me to come back from my four-day trip to Niger Delta to leave for the yonder?
I actually never quite comprehended the reality that my mother so loved me that she could give me the honour of physically burying her, with unavoidable sobs and sighs.
And, her death has opened me to people, far and near, who care for me, and such kindhearted, caring men and women have been bombarding me with calls, visits and more.
No less among them were the leadership and members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), that of the De Noble Club 10 Nigeria, that of the Villa Press and numerous others.
As my mother waited for me for her to take-off to where my father went to in 1982, she didn’t wait for me long enough to finish such a long letter to be delivered to her husband yonder! She was so much in a hurry…