Farewelling 2021, Decembering last decade

Farewelling 2021, Decembering last decade

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Decembers have been hot and cold for me since last decade. A maverick Batuwo wouldn’t exhibit any facade. Truly, of good or bad, memories are what define events and moments in our lives. But those memories that keep us in the loop are the very ones worthy of reminiscence.

Certainly, Allah takes what is His, and what He gives is His, and to all things He has ordained a specific time. So His reward is for those that are patient. Subhanallah.

It is with deepest sorrow to mourn the demise of my childhood friend in December 2013, shortly after I started high school. Ousman Fofana, famously Daddy Boy in our neighborhood in Brikama, was a true friend and a brother I cannot forget.

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When I first came to Brikama in July ’09, I was very stubborn at a crucial teenagerdom. I had just completed fifth grade. Daddy Boy was in the same age cohort with me. The first day that we met was the very first day that we had wanted to fight, but it failed. Since then, we became friends. We’ve been together throughout that summer until when schools were about to resume. Then I went back to my village to complete sixth grade.

In the subsequent summer, my father took me to my namesake to attend Jamisa Upper Basic School. We reunited. We attended junior school together in Jamisa. On my first day at school, I went with him. During break, he came to see me, then we went out to the school canteen to buy bread and whatever we could afford. Few weeks into our start, we clicked even more. His father, siblings, all started knowing me. In the other direction, my people had already known them. He and his siblings were coming to the compound I lived in for “Daara”, Qu’ranic lessons. We were all attending that.

Whether in “Daara” or in school, Daddy Boy was very smart. He was as smatter as I’m, if I’m even a good yardstick to measure his smartness. He was also unarguably the best player in our team. He had an edge over me on social grounds. He was very boisterous and expressive, whereas I was somewhat reserved and bashful. He was really courageous, a truly raging courage far from bravado. The boy was gonna make his mark in this world had death not laid its cold hands on him. I’m not advancing a rodomontado.

His mom lived in Bakau where I’d occasionally go with him during holidays. She is a kind woman whom death betrayed in her son of prospects. I’ve seen many pretences in Kombo that ended up petering out, but she was one of the only few who would look at me with compassion closer to the one my mom has for me. When I went to see her some days after my boy’s burial, we cried together. That was the first time I cried death since my dad’s demise two years prior.

Since then, his father had always cried any time he saw me. That hasn’t been easy for me, either. But I wasn’t living in Brikama any longer. I was in Yundum, going to Nusrat. So that has mitigated my emotional situation. Life has never been the same for me since then. We were so entangled. Seven years on the spin, his memory is still fresh in my mind. He was one true friend that I can never forget. May Allah forgive his shortcomings and grant him a respectable abode in Jannatul Firdaws. Ameen.

Life is a rollercoaster. But I believe what Lang Laibo told me few days ago, “2021 has really obeyed.” On gratitude grounds, it has really obeyed. Amongst many other progresses and growth, counting my 2021 publications alone has really become a work itself. Ditch espionage. Disregard the hodgepodge. I don’t write fiddledeedee. Fantinta has always been my “dd”.

Assuming my father’s shoes couldn’t come at a better time. But life is a complex journey – a journey where you climb different ladders at different stages. My father loved me. He had protected me beyond measure, above everything else. I later understood that more as I was growing up. My namesake explained a lot of things to me, even my prenatal life, at my request. I adore him. At 90, I celebrate him with pride and accomplishment.

When I was 12, my father and I visited his friend in Kani Kunda, Jarra West. We spent only one night there but I still remember the camaraderie between them. Since I came here in Soma for posting, I’ve always planned to pay them a visit. I did that last week. They were so happy to see me around, grown up to a man, standing on responsible footing. Happiness and fulfillment were written all over their faces, marveling at me for my growth in perhaps every respect.

I’ve aways promised myself that I’ll extend every relationship of my father, that I’ll make him proud, that I’ll be the Alhagie Batuwo he has named me after. So this is even amongst the reasons I love my name. Even my namesake does so. No one calls me my name with that passion and energy, affection and attachment, than Hajaleme.

I’ve come from below. At a level that was so low. Of course I observe gratitude for all the good things that happened to me, and the ones to follow. I enjoy such a flow. I wasn’t supposed to make it this far in life considering the lot I’ve been through. I wasn’t supposed to even go to high school. Forget about undergrad. My dad was poor and lonely. As a child growing up, not many people liked me. Some said I was stubborn. Others believed I was rude and provocative. They had their reasons and no reasons. But Allah has always been, and still is there for me in particular, and for my family in general. He remains my perfect sanctuary.

There’s a vast array of wisdom in this subtle Mandinka adage that would translate to, “If you hold high hopes of a white goat making a nice meal, hold similar hopes for a black goat as well because it also makes a similarly nice meal.”

It’s Allah Who provides, and He sustains whatever He provides. His protection is the only true protection. And this is why, Mandinkas would often say, “Eagle doesn’t catch the chick that Allah has ordained to crow.” So for that, in humility and in gratitude, I praise Allah in the grandest and honorable of ways, and send blessings upon our Beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. Indeed, Praise be to Allah, the Most High, the Most Merciful.

To my late father, friend, loved ones, and to all those that died in Islam, may Allah shower His abundant Mercy on them. Ameen.

Emotion is an affection for me. I write better when I’m emotional. Whenever I write in first person, my literary ability flows without running hot and cold. The degree of freedom in it is above and beyond. It’s what my maverick self adopt, express myself while hot and heavy. Word prophet Talib Gibran knows what I’m talking about. Creativity is one thing you shouldn’t doubt. Especially when I’m the subject. 2021, goodnight.

Glory Be to God Almighty.

Batou Saidy is a Public Health Officer and a writer. He’s also a football fanatic and a Manchester United aficionado.