What we had dreaded for the past 20 years came to pass. We lost our friend, my dear friend and birthday mate Haruna Mustapha Arah “Orlando” the pain of your loss is like a deep belly surgery without anesthesia.
Indeed from Allah we come and to him we go back to.
Haruna was larger than life, not because of his gangly height that earned him the nickname “Dogo”, his influence stemmed from his interactions, he was the Salt in every gathering he was in. A gift he has had all his life.
Right from early Primary school, at Hill Top Model School Minna, Haruna would gather us around his seat and tell us tales that left us as starry eyed kids wondering at how easy it was for him to tell wondrous stories that was beyond our formative imagination.
We loved him because he had the best tales as kids, a case in point he claimed they had a dog that flew, as a young adult I realized later the inspiration came from the film Never Ending story. He told us about the gold plated gilded seat his father owned that came installed with a Telephone.
As a child all I wanted was to visit the famous Arah house. Eventually when I did there was no flying dog nor gold gilded seats. But guess what, alas! I saw Peacocks with their beautiful plumes and glory. The first time I ever set my eyes on the magnificent bird.
Haruna was always precocious right from childhood, we shared a love for reading, the reason why I “loaned” him half of my dozen treasured Lady Bird Series featuring Peter and Jane. An act my father couldn’t understand as to why I will dash my friend my story books, for several years he chastised me for that singular act, therein lies the beginning of my love to gift out books other than loan them out.
There was the fatal accident that I missed by the whiskers, in which the survivors live till this day with the scar. Haruna never fully recovered from that accident.
As we grew older he came into his essence, his character revolved the values of kinship and loyalty. He was also very generous with his thoughts and resources. He was always willing to extend a helping hand.
Above all it was his genuine warmth that we all loved and will miss most, he was outgoing without being garrulous, he was extremely humorous without much effort. His personal stories will have you reeling from laughter long after he must have finished telling the stories.
Haruna could switch from being urbane to the character of a local street man within minutes, he could switch accents from a nasal British accent to one mimicking an East African accent.
His jokes were often self deprecating humor, laughing at himself.
He had so many dreams and wishes he wanted fulfilled. He loved his mother dearly and will get teary eyed anytime he spoke about her demise.
For 20 years he flirted with death with equanimity and courage. I write this with a constricting pain in my heart and a deep well of tears in my eyes. Perhaps you may not understand who Haruna meant to us.
But his friendship was honest and genuine. His intellect sublime, like all mortals he wasn’t infallible, but he strived in the path of God and man till the last.
O Allah, forgive Haruna Mustapha Arah and elevate his station among those who are guided. Send him along the path of those who came before, and forgive us and him, O Lord of the worlds. Enlarge for him his grave and shed light upon him in it.
Good night Hunter.
AlKasim Abdulkadir is communications expert and media trainer.