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Tribute to a Colleague and Spiritual Guide; Dr Nasir Abdullahi Ismail (MBBS, FWACS), 1974 to 2021

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By Dr. Nuruddeen Muhammad

No death had profoundly affected my spirituality than that of my dear friend, colleague and doppelganger Dr Nasiru Abdullahi Isma’il (Lamma) on the 4th of December, 2021. My father’s demise a year ealier had already left me with deeper insights into life, relationships, deaths and what exactly happen here on earth when we pass on. 

Most deaths are significant and they leave with a part of you (the bereaved). While as I come to understand now others are more significant in ways that would leave their (the deceased) whole in you. These two were of such intensity in my personal reflection to find the deeper meaning of life, death as it temporal end here and happens to everything immediately and long after we are gone

Mallam’s death was a very foreseeable one, agonisingly slow and very natural; he was 75 and very sick for a while. That was perfect transition for someone who had a repertoire of exotic philosophies about his own death even in his 40s and 50s. 

When Doctors eventually asked Mallam not to eat any form of protein, he summon enough discipline to follow through that for five years not because he didn’t want to die but just to make us happy since we wanted him alive. 

Dr Nasir Ismail’s death was however the one that hits in the morning while it makes you doubt your ears about what you have just heard or your eyes about what you have just read. He was young, apparently well, carrier driven, smart, intelligent, ambitious, and like all of us with a very young family that depended on him! The fact that I read about his death in a regular WhatsApp message did something to my perception of death forever, I no longer fear death.

Lamma and myself ticked not a few similar boxes together; background, education, temperament, world outlook and disposition to others. No surprise therefore when late Dr Nasir (alongside Dr Sonea Mahboob) generously mentioned my name as the guy they admired most in our class of fourty. But it was that which initially set us apart with Nasir that eventually became our greatest bond; spirituality

Nasir wasn’t only a genius in further mathematics and physics but studied and  understood Islam at the same or even deeper levels. His religiosity was more in improving his relationship with his creator. He preferred his own company, smiled alot and spoke sparingly. But it was these harmless queues that he used to impact my spirituality in so many ways. He would rather pose a critical question than hand you an open condemnation. It was a few years before his death that I began to figure out how his passive teachings had  improved my spiritual intelligence and outlook. 

These two significant looses have substantially affected the fear of death somewhere deep in my mind. While Mallam’s had left me with the reasons (philosophy) to live this life simply and one day at a time,  Nasir had handed me the means (spirituality) to achieve that. 

Born on the 7th of January 1974, Dr Ismail attended the prestigious Science Secondary School Dawakin Tofa (2nd only to Dawakin Kudu) upto 1993. Our paths came together about 26 years before his demise at the Bayero University Kano Medical College. We qualified as medical doctors together and both did internship with Aminu KanoTeaching Hospital. We undertook our mandatory one year NYSC the same year, wrote our primary exams for postgraduate training same time and trained as specialist doctors at the same institution (he did general surgery while I did psychiatry). We bought similar cars, married within a year of each other’s,  jointly owned an investment and bailed ourselves out financially several times. He took me to Sokoto for the first time to bring his dear wife to Kano while I took him to Yola to bring mine to the same city. 

A fellow of the West African College of Surgeons, Nasir was an excellent surgeon just as he was a good administrator and manager. A kind friend to all of us, good husband to Shafa’atu and great dad to Abdussalam and his four other siblings. He told truths to powers, held very progressive political views and even possessed that rare capacity for self critic. 

He was until  his most painful exit exactly a year ago today the chairman Board of Director of the Prime Alliance Multi Care Specialist Hospital in Kano, a senior lecturer with the department of Surgery, Bayero University Kano and Consultant General Surgeon at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital 

Allah SWT ya jaddada rahamarsa a gareshi da dukkan magabatanmu. Adieu Dr Nasiru Abdullahi Isma’il MBBS (BUK), FWACS

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