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Fareeda: The Favourite Fan Of Her Father, By Bala Ibrahim

I met her two or three times, I think, but every time we saw, she was either on the phone with her father, or his call came-in while we were discussing. I first met Fareeda at the Maitama office of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), and as if we have seen each other before, she gave me a mental image that was representative of the proper meaning of first impression.
I was there to sort out the problem of a friend, who had some issues with a bank. Fareeda took up the matter with special interest, and worked on it almost beyond the call of duty. When it was time for me to sign somewhere, she noticed I used an address that has bearings with the Force Headquarters of the Police, and she quickly enquired, are you a police? I said no, but I am a friend of the police.
With a permanent smile on her face, Fareeda said, my aunty works with the police at the Force Headquarters, her name is…………., then, an Assistant Commissioner of Police. I know her very well, so I said to Fareeda, no wonder you are so composed, calm and calculative. Your aunty is not only composed, but beautiful and dutiful. And above all, she has a kindly and generous disposition that make her selfless in service.
Your aunty was my student and everyone knows her with an optimistic mind-set, that makes her see the good in everyone. Although she had done for me what I came to do, but that piece of information added bond, that migrated to an instantly established relationship.
In-between our conversation, she received about five calls, but one drew my attention the most. She answered thus, Hi D. How are you? I am sure you are missing me, abi?  The conversation lasted for about 2 minutes, and because I couldnt hear what was said by the person at the other end, her responses and the way and manner she was responding, were all I could see and hear.
The call came twice before I left, and seeing the happiness on her face and eyes, which revealed the impression of love, adoration and gratitude, the journalist in me encouraged me to enquire a little. So I asked, were those calls from your boy friend? My boy friend?, she answered, NO. It’s my dad. My dad and I are the best of friends. I left Kaduna only yesterday, but he keeps calling to know how I am doing, as if we haven’t seen for years.
Please forgive me, I said, but I heard you say, Hi D. I thought you mean darling. She said yes, the D is for my darling Daddy. I am my daddy’s favourite friend, and the vice versa.
I think we met twice or thrice thereafter, but we always communicate on the phone, particularly on Fridays, when she sends some Islamic sermons, almost always talking on moral issues. Whenever she came across something that is of help to the old generation, Fareeda was quick to forward it to me, with the caption, Good for oldies like you. She said because I belong to the generation of her father, I am an oldie, and I accepted it.
In one instance, when my wife told me about a particular floral innocence scent, that has a distinctively pleasant smell to her, and one she had looked for all over to no avail, Fareeda told me to give her the container. Lo and behold, she called one day to say, oldie, madam’s scent is available at Shahads stores, would you refund me if I get one for you? I said get two, please.
Such was the kind of relationship between Fareeda and I.
My heart froze, when I saw her picture amongst those killed in the Abuja/Kaduna train on Monday. Her smiling picture, which was her signature, was displayed. I kept going through one particular story that said, “The train was forced to a halt after the terrorists planted bombs on the tracks. Witnesses said the attackers later surrounded most of the coaches and opened fire before they forcefully gained access, fired at random, which led to the death of some people”.
I said good God! Was Fareeda fired at? God! God!!. Allah can never be wrong.
I don’t know Fareeda’s father, I would have called to console and condole him, or even go to Kaduna in person. But I did called her aunty, who said the father is her cousin. And I would continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Fareeda, till we meet in Jannah, insha Allah.
Cherio Fareeda!.

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