By Babatunde Kawthar

Hopelessness crept in slowly. I was a child full of hope, going through life taking the highway. I was always looking for new challenges, something new to do and learn. Yet somehow hopelessness managed to find me, wrap me up and almost threw me into an abyss.

It was in my fourth year in the university and like other engineering students, I was to go on industrial training in the second semester of the academic year. In my usual manner I started the academic year with high hopes of having my internship in a place of my choice. Uncles and aunts have promised to fix me up; all I had to do was to call them once it was time for the internship.
I started submitting placement request letters at the beginning of the year, even though I trusted the promises I had received I still wanted to make efforts. It was my usual manner of trying to get things done by myself. My usual manner of not wanting to need anybody. The year crawled away slowly and by the end of the first semester I still hadn’t gotten placement.
But because less than twenty percent of my course mates had gotten placement, I was still full of hope. I wasn’t bothered when the month I was supposed to start went by so as the one after it. My hopes did get nibbled each time a company i was hopeful about turned down my placement request. It is however the nature of companies to be silent – to the applicant at least- about placement request. Silence could be positive, hence my hope stood still.
Hopeless crept in just when I thought I was done searching.

It was Friday evening, I was returning from Cocoa House Mall after my parents had just gotten me a new phone. I received an email from a company requesting that I submit some documents in order to finalise my placement in the company. According to the mail, I was to resume three weeks from the day the mail was received. I was overjoyed. I packed my bag and by Sunday I was back on campus. Monday came. I submitted the required documents and spent the rest of the week hanging out with friends.
My phone is a harbinger of news; bad and good. It had brought the good news about securing placement and also brought the bad news that opened my heart to the flood of hopelessness. A friend buzzed me asking if I got a call from the company. I didn’t, neither did any of my course mates who had also secured placement in the company. Nut some from other department got calls, calls giving them details on how to get to the company and what they are required to bring for the first day. What we got instead were mails saying we couldn’t resume as slated and will be called to resume on a later date.
Because I thought I had secured placement, I burned all other bridges. So days passed after and I had no direction. I couldn’t plan my time to do other things, yet I had nowhere to turn to for placement. It was the third month without placement, hopelessness had settled in my heart. It built for itself a home and fed off me- my attitude, my strength and weight. It sapped me and I lost a side job, became grouchy towards my family and friends. I was wallowing in confusion and in those moments thought my life at a standstill.

During those times I would spend my day in bed or couching, standing up only to pray or do other things of utmost importance. Life was passing me by and I let it. My relationships were slipping away as was time. My usual strong and smiling self was crumbling.

“…blessed is the believer for in all his affairs he finds good…”

In the midst of all these I came to a realisation. Being a Muslim I pray my daily Solah and Tahajud but I do not supplicate. My post Solah Adkar were mere rituals that I complete half-heartedly and so were my supplications in the nights. I would say the same thing over and over without my heart. I was asking God but I wasn’t asking. It’s like requesting for something but not interested in whether you were given or not. I did not throughout my hustling for placement once put it before Allah in any way.
The realisation hit me hard. I bowed and did what I should have done before anything else – commit everything to HE in whose hands is my soul.
I have overcome my hopelessness, rectified my affairs with people and I hope I’m on the right path of faith. Yet I am grateful for that phase of my life and the realisation that came with it. As I type this memoir words of Mufti Menk in one of his lectures resonate in my head:

…practising Muslims must be careful such that their daily acts of worship do not become daily rituals devoid of spirituality…

About the author:
Babatunde Kawthar is a writer. Her works have appeared in Allegro poetry journal and Expound magazine among others. She currently studies Petroleum Engineering in the University of Lagos (UNILAG)

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