There were children of all ages, dressed in school uniforms, engaged in various activities during their break time. Some played sports, while others sat down to eat. This was a public school where students commuted daily, but there was also a boarding school on the premises.

In one classroom, a young girl around 17 years old sat alone, engrossed in a book. She looked up and said, “Hmm, this is Asia, my final year of high school, and I’m determined to excel. My education is my privilege, and it’s how I can support my parents. I left my family for this reason.” Asia lowered her head and quietly prayed for success, to which I replied, “Amen.” She then resumed her studies, with Asia beside her, engrossed in her own book.

An elderly woman, around forty years old, approached and greeted a young man named Bappa. Tears welled up in her eyes as she said, “Hello, Bappa. May God bless your efforts.” Bappa shook his head and replied, “May God grant me the strength to fulfill your wish. Bongel’s education is my only desire. The ability to teach here at Bongel School is a blessing from God.” The woman consoled him, saying, “Baffa, God willing, you’ll continue to live and see her succeed.” Bappa nodded without saying anything further.

As for Bongel, her task for the day was to return home from the hostel. Since she entered the classroom, she had not engaged in much conversation with anyone. She wasn’t typically a noisy person, but today her silence was different, marked by an underlying sadness.

The Vice Principal called her name, “Hafsat Aliyu,” and she promptly stood up. He instructed her to follow him to the administrative office. Hamma Bala, a family member, was already waiting there. Bappa handed a note to Hamma Bala, who then turned to Hafsat and said, “If there’s anything you need from home, go fetch it and then return home.” Hafsat repeated the word “home” to herself, her chest heavy with emotions. It was unusual for her to be picked up from school; Bappa never allowed it due to his dedication to her studies. She murmured, “I don’t need anything,” but her unease was evident.

Hamma Bala took her on his motorcycle to a spot where they could speak more freely. A crowd had gathered at her house’s entrance, and their solemn faces indicated a recent loss in the family. Hafsat approached, her heart pounding, as it was apparent that someone close had passed away. She struggled to navigate through the crowd and rushed inside. Her eyes landed on her mother, who was in tears. Hafsat ran to her and embraced her, realizing that they had lost Bappa.

The elderly woman, known as Aunt Hajjo, who was Nene’s younger sister, tried to console them, saying, “I need your prayers, my dears. Don’t cry. I understand the pain, but you’ll find the strength to endure. Death is inevitable.” Her voice quivered as she spoke. Hafsat asked, “Is death really this bitter and sorrowful? We’ve lost Bappa, Aunt Hajjo, we have to cry.” She attempted to comfort her younger siblings, Ramla and Abu, who were devastated by their father’s passing. They all clung to each other, shedding tears.

Aunt Hajjo continued to offer support and guidance, urging them to find solace in prayer and gradually helping them calm down. That night, as Hafsat lay in bed with a fever, sleep eluded her. She couldn’t help but reflect on the painful loss of her father, Bappa.

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