Beyond MasudBeyond Masud
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CHAPTER ONE – “THE SILENT MESSENGER”

Life is a journey of learning and personal growth, where we often learn from our experiences, the experiences of those around us, and the lessons of those who have come before. Choices are the driving force behind our journey, and wisdom and discernment guide us in making the right decisions. When we make mistakes or choose the wrong path, it can feel as though the world is against us, and we yearn for a respite from the turmoil. Yet, every choice and experience, no matter how difficult, shapes us into the individuals we become.

When I was seventeen, I suffered a devastating loss that shook the very foundation of my being. My mother, the pillar of my world, the woman who selflessly devoted her life to my well-being, passed away. The woman who gave me life left this world too soon, leaving behind a gaping hole in my heart. She was supposed to be the one constant in my life, the one who would witness my growth and success, but fate had other plans. Her absence left me feeling lost, questioning the meaning of life, and struggling to find joy and hope in a world that seemed so cruel.

Devastated and consumed by anger, I rushed to the school mosque to get my phone. My friends, sensing the palpable change in my behaviour, grew concerned. As my brother’s friend, who had come for the Validatory service, approached me and uttered the haunting phrase, “So you didn’t hear?”, my heart dropped to the floor. In that moment, the weight of the situation slammed into me, and I was confronted with the cruel reality of my mother’s passing. Rage and sorrow threatened to consume me, leaving me adrift in a sea of pain and confusion.

In a state of disbelief, Masud dialed his mother’s number with trembling fingers. His heart skipped a beat as the phone rang, eager to hear the comforting sound of his mother’s voice. But as the call connected, it was not his mother’s voice that he heard, but his father’s.

“Agbomere, how you dey?” his father asked.

“I’m fine, sir. Mo sir!” Masud responded, the customary Afemai greeting caught in his throat as his emotions threatened to overwhelm him. “Where is mom?

Masud’s fear mounted with each unanswered question. “Where is mom? Is she okay? Why can’t I talk to her?” he pleaded, Each time I called Aunt Aishat answers the call and tells me mom told her to answer it. She would say mom is listening but then she doesn’t alter a word till the call hang up. His voice cracking with emotion as tears stained his cheeks. since I arrived for this session, I haven’t heard from my mom nor hear her voice. His father’s response only deepened the mystery. “I’m sorry, my son. She’s not well enough to take calls. When she’s better, she’ll contact you.”

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But Masud’s instinct told him that something was amiss. His father’s reassurance did nothing to quell his unease as the words rang hollow in his ears. 

Amirah, Masud’s close friend, watched with a heavy heart as Masud’s anguish washed over him like a tidal wave. Her own tears flowed in unison with his as she whispered softly, “Calm down, please. You’re hurting yourself.” She desperately wished she could alleviate his suffering, but her words seemed inadequate in the face of such profound loss.

Masud’s friends, Musa, Aliyu, Habib and Idris, were equally shaken by his anguish. They wrapped their arms around their dear friend in a gesture of love and solidarity, determined to bring him comfort and solace during this dark time. 

As the flurry of activities subsided, Masud’s classmates and friends began to trickle back to their dormitories and the mosque. The sight of Masud in such a state stirred their hearts, and they gathered around him, offering their comfort and support in an attempt to soothe his sorrow. Amirah, among them, returned with their physics teacher, Copper Kabiru, known affectionately as “Pen” among his students. The teacher, also a Muslim, was particularly fond of Masud and requested the others to give them some space.

“Neutron”, Pen addressed Masud with a gentle smile, despite the gravity of the situation. “My young friend, you’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise. Remember those times I jokingly called you ‘lazy’ or ‘ignorant’? I was only teasing you. You’re the exact opposite of everything I said, except for ‘madman,’ which you certainly are,” he chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. “Now Amirah told me what happened. Your dad didn’t say anything bad happened to your mom, and neither did your brother’s friend.

Masud, my young, bright friend, this whole idea is just a figment of your imagination, conceived in that big, brilliant brain of yours!” Pen continued, using his signature humor to defuse the tension. “Remember those times I playfully called you ‘madman’? Well, this is the perfect example of why I did! You’re letting your imagination run away with you, creating fears that aren’t real. Listen to your heart and trust in Allah. Everything is going to be alright, Neutron. Pen is here for you.

Masud, despite Pen’s efforts to comfort him, still felt the heavy weight of grief on his heart. At that moment, his brother’s friend appeared, waiting behind the mosque due to his Christian faith. Masud hurriedly approached him, desperation in his voice as he implored, “Please, I beg you, tell me the truth. What did you mean by ‘haven’t you heard’ when we talked earlier? I must know the truth.”

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The friend looked at Masud, sensing the turmoil in his eyes, and exhaled a heavy sigh.

Bolaji, his brother’s friend, quickly clarified, “Masud, please hear me out! I wasn’t implying anything sinister. I was simply asking if you’d heard that your brother was taking his final exams. I had no idea about your mom’s illness. I didn’t know! Yusuf Ayinde told me just now.”

Masud, already consumed with worry and grief, was only further confounded by this news. But Pen, who had overheard the conversation, interjected in an attempt to calm him down. “See, Masud? Everything is fine!

Bolaji turned to Masud, his voice tinged with concern. “I came back to check on you because Yusuf told me you seemed upset when we spoke earlier. I wanted to make sure you were alright.” Masud was deeply touched by Bolaji’s gesture, and Pen was equally grateful. “I really appreciate that, Bolaji. You’re a good friend. I’ll be heading out now,” he said as he began to depart.

Masud watched him go, feeling a ray of hope light up within him. Perhaps his mother was alright after all. Perhaps his fears were unfounded.

As Abdulrazaq’s melodious voice echoed through the air, calling the faithful to Maghreb prayer, Masud’s friends, Pen, Habib, and Aliyu, guided him gently back into the mosque. Masud’s steps were leaden with the weight of his emotions, but he drew strength from the support of his companions. The rhythmic chanting of “Allahuakbar, Allahuakbar” soothed his soul and, for a moment, he felt a sense of peace.

In the aftermath of the prayer, the congregation, now aware of Masud’s turmoil, rallied around him in a display of solidarity. Al-Amin and Abdulrazaq brought forth their meals, inviting Masud to share in the humble feast with them. Even Musa and Idris, who had foregone their trip to the dining hall out of concern for their friend, joined in on the meal, creating a warm and supportive atmosphere. Masud’s smile returned, albeit tentatively, as he recognized the depth of the affection and compassion that surrounded him.

As the circle of support widened, Aliyu shared Masud’s plight with his sister, Nafisat, who in turn arrived with her friends, Salimat and Yetunde, eager to provide their own comfort and levity to the situation. Salimat was the first to break the silence, her tone filled with concern as she said, “Oh Masud, this is not how I’ve come to know you. You’ve always been such a happy, cheerful person.

Nafisat, with her characteristic wit, chimed in playfully, “If you’re not feeling better by now, we might have to give you a little reminder with a gentle punch to the cheek!” Masud’s smile widened, both amused and touched by their efforts. He responded, “I’m doing okay. Thank you all for caring. Your support means a lot to me.” 

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Sofiat, Masud’s surrogate mother figure at school, gently pulled him aside for a private conversation. The night was meant to be a celebratory occasion for her, a prelude to her graduation, but when she heard of Masud’s distress, her priorities shifted. With her own moment of joy temporarily set aside, Sofiat wrapped Masud in a maternal embrace, whispering, “My dear boy, you’ve been duped by your fears. Tonight is supposed to be my special night, but nothing is more important to me than your well-being. Let’s talk.”

Sofiat held Masud’s gaze with an unwavering yet gentle intensity. “Masud, I’m relieved to see that you’re doing better, but what I’m about to say may not be easy to hear. Tomorrow, I was supposed to return home now that our exams are over, but I’ll stay because of you. I don’t want to add to your pain, but I must tell you the truth, you’ll need to prepare your mind.

Masud sensed that something grave was coming, but he braced himself to hear her words, knowing that Sofiat would only speak to him out of concern.

The presence of compassionate people in our lives is an irreplaceable gift. They help us weather the storms of grief, providing solace through shared moments of levity and reassurance. Then, when life delivers its most devastating blows, these cherished individuals offer a different kind of support. They provide an anchor, steadying us as we confront the truth, giving us the strength to bear the unbearable.

Without these beloved people, we would feel lost, alone, and without direction. They are the ones who not only support us in our darkest moments but also help us find our way back into the light.

As the night waned and the hour to return to the dormitories approached, Pen pulled Amirah aside, his voice laden with concern. “You have a deep affection for Masud, and I admire your compassion,” he said. “But his exams are fast approaching, and I can’t risk shattering him with the truth.”

Amirah’s expression grew serious. “You think something happened to his mother, don’t you?” she asked, her intuition alert to the sense of dread that lingered in the air.

“The bond of love is strong,” Pen continued, the certainty of his words carrying a hint of solemnity. “Even when we’re physically distant, our hearts and souls sense a change when someone we love departs from this world. These feelings, these instincts, they come to us like a silent messenger, whispering of loss and grief. And I fear that Masud has received that message, whether he fully understands it or not.”

To be continued….

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