By Umar Nasale Ibrahim
Whoever wants live in the world with others after his body leaves the open space should write. A reader, they say, lives a thousand lives before he dies. A writer, as he is also a reader, lives many other lives after he dies. Thus, a writer benefits more than a reader.
Abubakar Gimba died some years back, leaving a handful of books of great might to the posterity to enjoy. Although I haven’t met him to learn of his living policies yet, he had sent them to me before he departed, reaching me late the previous year. He published many books, out of which only three came to me to read for the time being.
“Witnesses to Tears” is the first I encountered, and out of pleasure and amusement of how I enjoyed it, I looked for “Sacred Apples”. Not long after finishing it, a friend came with “Footprints”, and I snatched it to read. These are the books, out of almost twelve publications he had/has, I could lay my hands on. Reading them has been like a conversation of the admonition of how to live with others. In fact, this is my takeaway from the books.
“Footprints”, for example, is permeated with political inequities of the civilian and military governments of a fictional state I presume to be Nigeria. The political paradox discussed in the book, in the end, turned out not to be what I learned from it. The social relationship of the characters in the narration that develops its plot still fascinates me. Though in this regard, one may say that the writer is conscious of it, not all the readers may apparently take care of it.
The central home in the book is composed of two living parents with three children. Two males and a female, though the other male is much of a minor character. The female child, Farah, is a university graduate teaching at a secondary school her younger brother joins later in the book. This is one of the fascinating things the book has left me with. The male parent, Jibran, was a teacher, so his child became one. She engages in a relationship with her co-teachers, and Jibran has never been aversed in the relationship. The open-arm welcome to the teaching profession, the loving arms with which it is embraced and the burning desire to turn the lives of others in the book through the good profession is an emulable action.
That’s one. And to be precise, not to say much, the most important other issue is the interfaith relationship of the characters. Haytham and Basil are the intimate co-working mates of our female character, Farah. Haytham is a Christian and has been the boyfriend of Farah for a long time before Basil turned to show interest in her and thus married her later. The duo has become constant visitors of the house, first as friends, for courtesy and later, for a date. No matter the nature of the visit, Jibran would warmly engage them in conversation about the leadership of the country and the way out. Farah, with her father, would be supporting the country’s civilian activists to be given power, while others would intellectually be opposing her views. Usually, the conversations last long and no way in it one would dare include religion in it. The actual outlook of one’s humanity is the concern.
This was ringing in my ears while I was reading the book. Just telling me of how Gimba lived in the community he lived. And for sure, he was a religious man of dignity. But, to say he was a reader is just an insult to his reading avidity.
May Jannatul Firdaus be his current comforting home, amin
Umar Nasale Ibrahim can be reached via: email@example.com.
May his gentle soul rest in peace.