Unbelievable : How I drove Lifeless body of my twin sister to and from hospital
By Hussaina Yakubu
February 04, 2024
In Nigeria, twins are seen as powerful forces that are inseparable and whose fate are intertwined, as many believe that the death of one is a sign of the imminent death of the other.
In fact, in some cultures, when any of the twins dies, they would just be committed to motherearth without any form of burial ceremony, all in the belief that doing so would be inimical to the life of the other twin. Also, neither the parents nor the sympathisers are permitted to cry or grieve openly over the death of one of the twins. The burial ceremonies are put on hold until the remaining twin is dead, and everything about the burial rites would be done together.
According to the late legendary Fumilayo Kuti, the loss of a twin sister can be best described as “monumental.” This was corroborated by Hussaina Yukubu, a Kaduna based Journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN,) who lost her twin sister, Hassana Yakubu, also a Journalist with the same organization on the 9th of October, 2023 after a protracted battle with cancer.
According to her, losing her identical twin sister is the biggest loss she has ever experienced in her life. “ I’ve lost my Father and a few other loved ones, but the death of Hassana on the 9th of October, 2023 is unlike any other kind of loss because I believe it’s the bond we formed even before we were born and have that bond physically severed when that’s all we have ever known; it’s quite traumatic and feels like you lose part of yourself, part of who you are.”
Hussaini said that birthdays will never be the same again: personal accomplishments and milestone celebrations will never be a wholehearted happy occasion because she will always be reminded that her other half is not here to share In our joy.
Hussaina who spoke with Weekend Peoples Daily in Kaduna was frank in the narration of her experience that losing a loved one is difficult; the grief, pain, sadness and immeasurable amount of heartache that comes with it can be overpowering. Indeed, coping with a loss takes time and everyone’s journey is different.
However, the soft-spoken lady, just like the famous English writer, religious thinker, and influencer, Quaker William Penn, once wrote that “Death cannot kill what never dies. Nor can spirits ever be divided, that love and live in the same divine principle, the root and record of their friendship,” vowed never to allow her twin sister to be forgotten easily.
Nevertheless, she takes solace in Allah, saying “death is inevitable, we are Muslims and no matter what, we have to take it as our fate. We will all go, that’s how Almighty Allah has designed it, one will go first and then the next person will follow. So, we have to take it cause sooner or later, it was bound to happen.”
To ensure that cancer which is the cause of her twin sister’s death did not send other young Nigerians to their early grave, she is setting up a foundation that will support cancer patients, of which, her late twin sister was a victim and indirectly, she too was because she was by her side all through from the start till the end,“I know the physical, financial and mental challenges that cancer patients suffer. So after thinking it through, I decided there was a need for me to do something about it.
“The foundation is to support people who are passing through the same trauma she suffered from that will keep me busy while supporting people who suffer the same fate as her.
“I’m not only calling on Nigerians, I’m calling on the government to support this vision as well. Having passed through some experiences with my sister, I came to understand that they suffer a lot.
“During that challenging period, I discovered that there’s no radiotherapy machine, not one in the whole of the North and this radiotherapy is a treatment you go through chemotherapy treatment which is part of the process.
“So after searching, we found none except in Abuja, but still it was not accessible because the machine was overworked already, so we went further to Lagos because they have about three working there.
“It was not easy and that’s why I’m calling on the government to look into the situation because there are a lot of people who cannot afford to even transport themselves. Besides spending the money, you have to look for accommodation and also sort your food you don’t expect the person to travel by road, looking at the distance from the North to the other part of the country.
“You have to get a plane which is not an easy task, you think of transportation money, treatment fee, accommodation and feeding.
From the start, it was cancer of the throat before it expanded and after the scan, we were told that she had a tumour shortly below the brain.”
Recalling her last day with her late twin sister, Hussaina who was visibly in tears, said it was a Monday, the 9th of October, 2023, we slept in the same bed and had our bath though. I was feeling very weak but I still managed to make breakfast.
“I remember joking with her about a funny incident that happened to me, we joked till 9:30 am because I was reluctant to leave. I would walk to the door and turn back to see her, it happened three times and the last time I asked her what she would like for launch since I was going out, but she said nothing. Since she likes Amala, I asked if I could prepare that and she said yes.
“I noticed that she was looking a bit dull and asked her if she was okay to which she replied yes. I asked if she would like to visit the hospital and she said no, why would I go to the hospital, is it not when you are sick you go to the hospital?
It’s only sick people that go there and I’m not sick, she responded, and I said but you are not looking strong to me and in her very low tone she insisted she was fine and nothing was wrong.
To me, she looked pale especially after I compared my hand with hers but she maintained that she was okay. In my mind, I concluded that it was a shortage of blood because since she started receiving treatment, she did not receive blood.
“So I just told myself that I would return to take her to the hospital and tell the doctor that she needs blood. I asked her again if she would go to the hospital and she said no, I asked if she would take ORS and she said yes, so I prepared it for her and gave it to her.
“I left for the office, couldn’t even drive cause I was so restless so I just took commercial transport to the office. On reaching the office, I was restless, my mind was rather on her at home,” she narrated.
While recounting the heartbreaking account of her twin sister’s sudden demise, Hussaina continued that on that Monday afternoon, she was restless and had a strong urge to go home. She left for home before closing time and found her sister sleeping peacefully.
“Little did I know, this serene moment would soon give way to unimaginable sorrow. In an ordinary act of sibling care, I went to the kitchen to fulfil her earlier request for Amala, intending to surprise her with a home-cooked meal.”
“However, as I returned to her room, she remained oblivious of my presence. Her lack of response triggered concern, prompting me to tap her gently and call her name.
“It was then that her eyes met mine, and in a faint voice, she inquired if it was time for prayers. Assuring her it was time to eat, I sensed an unusual heaviness in her movements.
“Supporting her to sit up, she expressed the need to use the toilet before performing ablution for prayers. I assisted her and we sat together to eat but a sudden change occurred after she took a few swallows —she coughed and, instantly, her eyes turned white, signalling the end of her life.
“In a state of panic, I sought help, describing her condition as mere fainting. The person who came to assist realized the severity, checking her pulse and confirming the unimaginable – she was no more.”
“In my confusion, I drove her lifeless body to the hospital in my car, hoping for a miraculous intervention. The medical staff’s solemn expressions and the doctor’s words shattered that hope. She was gone.”
“Driving her back home, I remained in denial, still believing she would wake up. The news spread rapidly, and as I embarked on the painful journey, I couldn’t fathom the reality of losing my other half. Now, four months have passed, and the pain lingers. With faith in God’s plan, we acknowledge the inevitability of facing death, a reminder that life is fleeting and precious,” she said.
She added: “The Foundation I am putting up in memory of the Amazon lady which very soon, by the grace of Allah, will be a reality is a way to show death that I can’t be separated from my better half even if she is in the grave.
The foundation is all about supporting cancer patients of which, she was a victim and indirectly, I was too.
“I Frequently visit her grave to offer prayers for the repose of her soul and Allah’s mercy on her and myself.
We stayed in the same womb for nine months and came to this world on the same day, schooled together from primary study Mass Communication in the same tertiary institution and even worked in the same office we worked together at NAN for 12 years.
“In the wake of my twin sister, Hassana’s battle with cancer and her subsequent passing, I found solace in reflecting on her life. Determined to honour her legacy, I felt an inner calling to strengthen myself, to be more responsible and resilient.
“The heartfelt praises from family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues about Hassana’s life made me realize the impact we can have on others. Wondering what people would say about me after my time, I decided it was time for personal growth.
“Inspired by the positive aspects of my sister’s life, I envisioned going beyond my past self. This introspection led to the birth of Hassy’s Haven Foundation, a tribute to her memory and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world.
“With the grace of Almighty Allah, the foundation is set to launch sooner than anticipated, symbolizing a continuation of Hassan’s legacy and a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.
“Finding solace in accepting Allah’s will and the understanding that life is temporary is a source of comfort during the fresh pain of my sister’s passing. Reflecting on her peaceful departure and the love and support I provided brings inner peace and strength to me. And the daily prayers of my wise mother further fortified my resilience.
“Despite not coming from wealth, my vision for Hassy’s Haven Foundation, reaching out to those affected by cancer, and supporting orphans, widows, and the less privileged, reflects a noble commitment.
“I am envisaging partnerships with local and international philanthropic organizations and government to amplify the impact of my efforts and make a positive difference in the lives of others.
“This journey exemplifies the strength found in compassion and the desire to contribute to the well-being of those in need.
“In the fleeting moments after my return from work on that very faithful day Oct .9,2023 Allah, in His infinite wisdom, took my twin sister’s life right before my eyes. Seated beside her, feeding her with care, I witnessed her departure in less than 30 minutes.
“The suddenness of her passing became a profound reflection on life’s transient nature, emphasizing the delicate balance between existence and the inevitability of our mortality.
“This poignant experience served as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of life, prompting a deeper commitment to living by the principles of Allah.
“The supreme nature of His will encourages a dedication to His guidance, doing good to others, and embracing a peaceful existence. In the face of such a profound loss, the realization emerged that our time here is uncertain, urging a steadfast devotion to faith and a compassionate life in service to others.”