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Updated: Jul 4


Arrived at Dubai Airport.



“This series and the characters in it are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, and the religious rites are authentic, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary. “

No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and specific other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law."

Copyright © 2023 by Hadiza Bagudu.


Malam Tanko Saleh breathed a sigh of relief as he came down from the plane at the arrival terminal of the Dubai International airport. It was their first stop before boarding a second Emirates plane to Madinah. All Emirates flights stop at Dubai airport before proceeding to their destination, regardless of what that destination is. He had never been so afraid in his life as when he was on the plane. It was his first time flying, and the experience had terrified him beyond description. Thank God for the kind young man, Munir, who sat beside him, that was very helpful. If not for him, he wouldn’t have known what to do.

He stretched a little bit with some difficulty and flexed his hand and winced in pain. Yep, his arthritis is acting up again.

“Are you ok?” Munir asked him.

“I am.” He smiled. “Just adjusting to the outside again.”

“Let’s go slowly, Baba,” Munir assured him. “We have time. No need to rush.” They allowed the other passengers to overtake them as they strolled toward the immigration section.

At 73, he was old and frail and shouldn’t be making such a long and arduous journey alone. But he had no choice, as there was no one. His wife had died a few months back, and he had already lost all his children. He has had four children, three boys, and a girl. Two of the boys and the girl died before they reached puberty. His son Giwa reached adulthood and even married but died three months later. His wife died in childbirth, leaving behind a baby girl Faizah whom he and his wife raised. Now Faizah is married and heavily pregnant, and her husband is sick. So, he had to make this journey to pray for both, and because of his advancing age and deteriorating health, It could also be his last chance to go.

He was a poor farmer who had lived his whole life in Kano and only once went to Kaduna. He and his late wife had been saving to go together to Hajj for over forty years, and she died just when they were near their goal. So, he added up their money, paid for himself, and then gave half the remaining to his granddaughter and her husband. The rest, he divided into two and gave half to charity; he was going to use what was left to take care of himself when he gets back… if he gets back.

He had prayed to Allah to make the journey easy for him, and he got this helpful young man as his journey partner and possible roommate. He couldn’t be happier.

They proceeded to the arrival terminal, where they had to go through immigration again, and he found that quite tiring. Despite the officers' efficiency and professionalism, over two hundred people were on board that flight and each had to be checked. He wasn’t quick to join the long queue. It took another fifty minutes for all their documents to be verified and for the appropriate officers to check the validity and status of their vaccinations and to confirm if they had any diseases that would be a cause for concern.

He looked up and noticed, for the first time, how vast and magnificent the terminal was. He had never seen or even dreamt of anything like it in his long life. The stories and descriptions he had from Hajjis come nowhere near how amazing this place looks. It was as if he had died and gone to heaven. Everything was huge, shiny, and imposing, and many people were going every which way. Large hexagon pillars held the vast ceiling, which seemed endless, and there were screens everywhere, displaying a variety of images. The officers were all wearing white Kaftans, with white scarves covering their heads and held in place by a black leather ring. They looked like angels, ushering them into the gates of Heaven. Other officers in grey camouflage uniforms were scattered in the airport, keeping order. Large billboards advertised everything from perfumes to mobile phones. Small vehicles were weaving through the crowds and mainly carrying the elderly and pregnant women to other parts of the terminal, and a woman’s voice could be heard making announcements through the speaker from time to time.


They went to a transparent elevator, and he hesitated to enter. He had never in his life been in one, and he noticed how they were going up and down all over the place, and he was scared. But Munir assured him that he would be fine and held his hand. When it started going down, he felt like throwing up and had to steady himself so he wouldn’t fall. But in the end, he was glad he took it, as his knee arthritis makes going up and down stairs very difficult.

They must have walked for what seemed like ages before reaching another desk where they had to show their documents and finally going to the waiting area where they had to wait for several hours before their next flight arrived. As they walked, He noticed shops selling everything from perfumes to shoes and clothes, and the aroma of coffee was rife in the air.

Some passengers went to find food, some just wanted to stretch their legs instead of sitting for several hours, and some stretched on the cold metal chairs to sleep.

“Let’s go and sit over there.” Munir pointed at some empty seats, and the three proceeded to sit.

The air conditioning was too much for Malam Tanko, so Munir used his praying mat to drape his shoulders. That helped a little.

From where they were sitting, Malam Tanko noticed the poor woman again, struggling with the kids, and her husband wasn’t helping as usual. The two older children bolted from her and ran towards him; one of them fell on his lap.

“Well, who do we have here?” He asked playfully. “What is your name, young man?”

“My name is Amir.” The boy said with a smile filled with missing baby teeth.

He put his age at around eight or Nine years old, and his sister is probably six. “What is your sister’s name?”

“Dina!” She said before he could answer.

“Amir and Dina. What lovely names. Are you going to hajj as well?”

“Yes.” They both replied.

“That is very good. You will become Alhaji and Hajiya when you come back”


“Ok. But you must stop running around the airport and listen to your mother. If you don’t, you could get lost, and when you get lost, you will not be able to go to Macca, and your mommy will be sad. Do you want that to happen?”


“Good.” The mother came over to apologize for her children’s behavior. She looked exhausted. He felt sorry for her. “It’s ok, my child. May Allah give you Shifa.”

“Ameen Baba. Thank you.” She took them and walked away.

Then he noticed Alhaji Kura’s family sitting across from them, and for a moment, he thought he saw Munir and Alhaji’s beautiful daughter Nana Aisha share a look, and he knew that look. But then, Munir quickly looked away shyly.

He smiled. That young man reminds him so much of his late son Giwa. He was around the same age when he died and just as shy. On the plane, Munir told him about his father's death. His heart was filled with grief for him. He wished there was some way he could comfort him, but he couldn’t even think of anything appropriate to say to him. He knew that grief all too well and promised himself he would do anything to make him happy.

They prayed the Fajr prayer inside the beautiful airport mosque, and Munir got coffee and croissants for them to have as breakfast. The wait wasn’t easy. They still had to wait another two hours before their next plane arrived, and when it finally did, everyone was relieved.

The plane ride to Madinah was identical to the first one from Nigeria as both planes were carbon copies of each other, including the food and the crew. However, there was much more excitement this time as things became more real. Being in the Holy City of Madinah (The City of the Prophet, Peace and Blessings of Allah be with him) was almost too much to bear. Malam Tanko couldn’t help but cry.

“Baba, are you all right?” Munir asked, concerned.

“I am just happy, my son.” Malam Tank laughed. “Subhana Allah! This is the best day of my life.”

“It’s the best day of my life, as well.”

The man sitting next to them was close to tears as well. “May Allah give us Hajj Mabrouk.” He said, and they both said, Ameen.

A team leader assigned to the group by their Hajj travel agent got up and started preaching. He introduced himself, again, as Malam Muhammed Shata, a Qur’an teacher at another Islamiyah in Kano. He was the same person who gave them several Hajj classes back home to prepare them for what to expect and instructed them on what to do, the Hajj rites, and how to conduct themselves appropriately during the pilgrimage.

He again went over the instructions and gave them tips and specific prayers to perform at different points during the Hajj for maximum benefits. Most of them were already familiar with the instructions. However, they listened attentively to learn more.

At the Madinah airport, they once again had to go through immigration and were subject to intense inspection. Hajj officials ushered them to several offices where they were first quarantined and examined by medical personnel to ensure that all of them had had their necessary vaccines and that none were carrying any infectious diseases. The Saudi Arabian government is extra vigilant on such issues as they host millions of visitors yearly. Just one person with a contagious disease can cause a deadly pandemic. Therefore, they had to be thorough, no matter how inconvenient. At the end of it all, they were given an oral immune booster and had to swallow it in front of the office before being allowed to proceed to the ground floor of the terminal for baggage claim.

Madinah Airport

Again, Malam Tanko was amazed by how magnificent the airport was. The first thing he noticed were the large artificial palm trees holding the ceiling up and the white marble floor glistening beautifully as they walked. There were computer screens everywhere and TV monitors with advertisements and announcements. Once again, a dizzying number of people moved about, like waves on a river. It was almost too much for him to handle. Everything was surreal and dreamy. He was almost worried that he would wake up at any moment.

They went downstairs to claim their bags and he was once again fascinated by the machinery and how everything worked efficiently. The big wheel brought out their luggage and Munir, who was holding both their tickets retrieved the boxes for them. It was like being in a completely different universe. Nothing will ever be the same for him after this.

An airport bus took them on a twenty-two-minute ride to their hotel in town, very close to the Masjid Al-Nabawi (The Prophet’s Mosque. Peace and Blessings of Allah be with him). They were to stay at Hilton Hotels, and he was bedazzled by the sheer amount of glamour and beauty as they stepped into the lobby. It was incredible. The Arabian design of the furniture and carpets mixed with modern accents was luxury at its finest. No expense was in making the place beautiful and welcoming; nothing had prepared him for what he saw, not even the magnificent airports and airplane rides. Munir had to take care of their luggage and ensure they were taken to the room assigned to them. Thankfully, they were roommates.

In the room, there were four beds. So, they had two other roommates. One of them was the gentleman sitting by Munir’s right on the plane. They discovered his name was Alhaji Suleiman Yahaya, a businessman from Kano. The other roommate was Malam Muhammad Shata. This is perfect, he thought.


So, what do you think of Malam Tanko's story? Do you believe that things will get better for him? In what way do you think he would impact Munir? Talk to me in the comments section below.

Ep. 4 will be out on 7th February 2023. Keep the date!


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I'm Hadiza Bagudu, a mom, blogger, poet, author, and podcaster. Join me each week as we embark on 'An Epic Journey of Faith!' A series about a group of pilgrims whose lives were transformed by the Hajj experience. Let's explore the power of faith, the beauty of human connection, and more captivating stories on love, family, and society. Come along, and let's dive into the world of literature together!


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