Friday, April 28, 2006

Wednesday. 26th April 2006

It was Wednesday evening, 26th April 6.38PM

The dusk slowly started to creep in to the day. It was an unusually hot afternoon and my work officially ends at 7 PM.
I have tidied my desk. The previous week was an unusually happy week on personnel front.
The training programmes moved smoothly, to say a trifle better than planned.
I was assigned with a tough task of training existing production staff, the not so young ones. They haven’t gone to a Petroleum Engineering school yet they were excellent operation staff, the backbone of industry. Their age was a problem, their memory was a problem, though most of them could speak English, and their writing was a hindrance. But issues were sorted out smoothly about sending them to a technical English course prior to the theory classes. I have already started class room lecturers and field visits.

Tomorrow is Wednesday; I thought as I looked at the planner in my desktop. I have classes at 10AM. I have no time to write a blogpost for tomorrow. I thought I can to put a photo quiz to cover next two days.
Knock! Knock!
A raised my eyebrows! I looked at my watch and thought that my dinner will be late.
“Who is that?”
No answer
Knock! Knock!
“Who is that, come in” I quipped thinking that my dinner will end up today in a sand witch.

A black nose came first through the door, then the rest of the head. Now another nose head etc and finally their big bodies too.
I smiled at the two sets of white teeth, broad charcoal black face and the large noses.
They were my new trainees Michael and Peter.
“Good evening Mr. Jac” in unison
I replied and told them to sit.
“No Mr. Jac, we are already late. We are in night shift and we have come to check if we can attend your classes tomorrow morning after our shift.”
“Why not” I was delighted “be here at 10 AM sharp”
“Yes sir” also in unison.
Michael moved closer to me to ask some thing
‘What do you want Michael? I can help you, if you will ask me what is that you need please”
“Mr. Jac! You know that you gave me an Arabic English dictionary to refer with the text books” that was two days ago.
“Yes” I affirmed.
“Do you know that I don’t read Arabic well” he smiled showing his white teeth.
surprised though, I couldn’t hide my smile
“So why didn’t you tell me that” I was amused.
“Mr. Jac, we know that you made such efforts to get us these dictionaries and I thought that you will be offended if I return it immediately. Here it is “he gave me back one those thick dictionaries.
“Michael, you need English to English dictionary”? I asked him thinking about a small personnel one I have in my room.
“I know it is not in the company warehouse Mr. Jac” he was being very humble as that was his nature.
“Mike! I have one in the room that belongs to me. It is yours from tomorrow. Get it from me when you come for the class at 10 AM” I saw thanks in his eyes and that was enough for me.
“You can take this Arabic one too, so that you can give it to one of your daughters."

Now Peter was silent all these time and I saw him hesitating.
“Now what do you want, Peter !” I couldn’t guess what he wanted.
“Mr. Jac, I too need one dictionary like that for my daughter, if it is not too much to ask” he was a bit shy.
“Peter ! I have just one which is my personnel, but next rotation of my vacation, I will bring one for you” I wished that I had one more.
“Ok, it is deal, Mr. Jac” the smile I saw in him was real. As usual, I thought in my mind that, why is that I can’t smile like them.

They looked at the watch, murmuring among them that the bus will be waiting and shook my hands and said good bye
But I didn’t know that it would be their last good bye nor did they.

I locked my office door and went to my room hurriedly.
I was out after my shower and a change of clothes.

The dining room, in which I am to have dinner, was crowded and I finished my dinner quickly, as I had some more work on my weekly report. I was out quickly and was on my desk as usual to finish of the pending report.

Normally nobody enters my door with out knocking and now I saw the lock turning in with out a knock which was enough to raise my eyebrows. One of our drivers, Jallalludin barged in and I was about to ask him why he did not knock, but the expression in his face stopped me.
“Sir, you heard about it” he was breathing fast.
“What is it, for God’s sake” I asked him not getting up from my chair
“About the accident and the deaths. I heard it in the walkie talkie” his face was ghost like.
He told me that there was an accident involving the crew change minivan.
I was on the phone on an instant and at the other end was Muthu, an Indian friend working in the field station.
He was whimpering and told me that it is true and there are deaths and all are being rushed to the field hospital. He doesn’t have details.
I was out of the door with my car keys in a second; Jallalludin following me. I had just two faces in my mind, Michael and Peter.
Jallaludin stopped me.
“Don’t drive today sir, I will drive” I was angry but I saw that my hands were shaking. I meekly handed him the key of the pick up.

The hospital was five kilometers away, the parking area was full with vehicles and swirling lights. Red, green, yellow…I felt unsteady.
I saw that the whole staff was there.
Army personnel were on guard at the inner door of the hospital. I showed my ID, but he did not even look but flatly declined and told me “mumnooah” meaning forbidden or not allowed in Arabic.
I was looking for any faces that will clear me in, but I couldn’t find any.
Then I saw him… another of my trainees weeping and coming towards me. I held him steady. He told me the news, a death toll of nine including Michael, and that Peter is fighting for his life.
The security man in the hospital recognized me and came to my rescue, asking the army man to let me in.
I was walking in the hospital corridors like a ghost, my legs felt heavy. The security man took me to the critical rooms.
I saw all… every one of them except Peter, who was in serious shape.
That is what I call morbid. I can’t explain what I saw there.

Out of the total of thirteen in the bus, the number of survivors with severe injuries were just four.
My Peter died yesterday morning along with two Indian staff who was in the bus. They were all my friends, used to see all of them almost everyday.

My dictionary for my Michael is on my table near my laptop. I have told every one, not to touch that. Be it there. Mike is here with me.

Who will hold my hand when I go to see the family today?
Who will cry with me when I hold Michael’s daughter?
Who will I lean to, when I see all the tears?

Where is my Peter, who wanted just a dictionary for his daughter?

Where are my tears gone now?

I couldn't get a picture of Peter.
The picture on top is Michael.
Below is Joy and Sudhakar.


Mindinside said...

I am sorry
I share your pain and sorrow

jac said...


I think I need it today.

Dotm said...

Jac, what a sad thing to have to face. So sorry for you and for all the families of these people. Losing good friends is very hard to handle and those families will be going thru so much suffering after losing their loved ones. Hard enough when we see relatives and friends suffering some incurable illness, but there is no warning when their is an accident taking them from us. My heart goes out to everyone.

jac said...

Thank you, dot! and for that kind mind.

Nan said...

Oh my God, I'm so sorry. This is just awful. My Oil Man has lost friends too in the Oil Patch due to accidents. My heart goes out to you.

Karin said...

Oh God, Jac - what a horror!! I am so terribly sorry ...
Will you please tell the family of Mike, there is someone in Germany who deeply feels with them? Shares their grief? Embraces them in their great pain?
And you ... we all who write to you, are your friends and hold your hand, cry with you when you hold Michael's daughter - and offer you a shoulder to cry on! Michael and Peter are in a better world now, a world without pain, suffering, wars and hatred ... a world of harmony and peace! I wish so much these words can be a source of comfort to you!
I have tears in my eyes while writing .. this story really touched me deeply!

kat said...

{{{{{Jac and all the families}}}}}

I am so sorry to hear this, Jac.

fritz said...

i'm so sorry to hear about this jac..i understand what you've been go through..hugs to you..please take good care of yourself.

sophie said...

i just have prayers

jac said...

Thank you and I am in need of it.

I know what Oil fields are, that is where I am too.

Thanks once again

jac said...

Thank you so much.

I intend to show this post and comments to at least one of the children so that they realise that there are people out here who share their sorrow and tears.

It is time to recuperate now, so wipe off tears.
We can just from Germany included.

Thank you, karin !

Karin said...

Jac - this sad story didn't leave my mind ... I pray for the souls of all your dead friends and for their families to be able to cope with the terrible loss! Please take care of yourself - I send you strength!

jac said...

It was sad... but thank you for the support.

{{{{{hugs to you too}}}}}}

Karin said...

That's a wonderful idea - to make the children realise, they are not alone in their pain and grief!! I sincerely wish, that will help them to cope ...

jac said...

That was gr8 you know ? or else my spirits would have been at rock bottom.
{{{{hugs and thanks to you too}}}}

jac said...


Prayers remains the only healing in situations like this.

Thank you for that ?

jac said...


I am so touched by the way you extent your kindness and sharing attittude.
I wish that there are more people like you, karin !

Thanks for the strength, I needed it.

jac said...


I know that it will not completely erase their pain, but it will definitely ease their pain

Karin said...

You're welcome Jac! Rest assured, it came from all my heart! I hope you're alright ...
May I ask you a question? I feel a bit confused ... what is the official language in Nigeria? Is it Arabic?? Or is it the second? Do you speak Arabic?
A question about Michael ... how old are his children? I wish, the knowledge they are not alone with their pain does help them ..

jac said...

How can't I be alright with all the support my readers been extending me? You included, karin !

The official language of Nigeria is actually English.
Nigeria consist of a total of 221 ethnic communities aka tribes, each having a language of their own. Though English being the official language, each tribe follow English at school and they converse in their own language at home and outside.

The main tribes are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo, their language too is known by their tribe name.
Hausa is predominantly Muslim and use an Arabic script due to Northern Nigeria being ruled once by Usman dan Fodio.

I speak fluent but accented Arabic but I can't read or write.
I can get along with some accented Igbo too… spelled as 'eeboo'

Michael’s full name is Michael Kong Deb, a catholic christan from 'Nuer' tribe and he has five children, two girls and three boys. Before you ask, here are their names:-
Angelina & Yapeta(F)
Sibit, John & James(M)

For your information they are Sudanese and I am stationed in Sudan now.

Rose said...

Just drifted in to take a peek through the window of ur soul...

Cudnt help but feel for what transpired...

My Heart extends out with prayers for their families...


Karin said...

Thanks so much for all the info ... I never heard all that and certainly learned a lot! I hope I haven't been too nosy asking all those questions! No, I would NOT have dared to ask for the names of the kids (there's a limit to nosiness and I know to respect that!!), thanks for telling though - they make the human tragedy even more apparent and tangible!
I freely admit I had to check the map of Africa to find out exactly where Nigeria - and Sudan are located ... you are a LONG way from home now!
You are saying there are alone in Nigeria 221 languages?? Do people from one tribe at least understand the neighboring tribes .. or are they totally different? I realize I am asking you for a ethnology - lesson ... I'll perfectly understand if you don't feel like giving it though so don't feel bad to say NO! I just figure - with all this new info - if I won't ask - I'll never know ...:)!

jac said...

Welcome to my window.

Thanks for drifting in and for sharing in the tragedy time which is very well appreciated.

Come again if you like what you see here. Consider the blog as yours and feel free to extend me a feed back on what you feel.

Thanks again.

jac said...

You don't have to say thanks to what I wrote here.
My profession teaches me that if any of my students doesn't ask me any question, I must seriously suspect that he/she is not learning; this is to say that questions from any one, delights someone who is in a teaching position.

Asking about the details of family members of an expired gentleman doesn’t come under nosiness in my dictionary nor in Michael’s dictionary which lies in front of me. LOL

Yes I am a long way home, but I feel at home, where ever I go.

Yes there are at least 221 ethnic tribes and languages in Nigeria… each unique and not understood by other tribes unless one learns it.
Most of those languages use Arabic, English, French or Latin script.
To say atleast that you are good student...

Karin said...

... at least that's what I try to be - a good student!

I am glad you didn't perceive my questions as being nosy - I like to collect "puzzle-pieces" in order to be able to form a picture for myself - that's the only reason.

You feel home wherever you go?
That is rare, very rare even but admirable ...

At least 221 ethnic tribes and not one understands the other ... MY GOODNESS!!

LATIN script is used - among others? To hear that would utterly delight my former Latin-teachers ...

I was busy now digging for more than an hour in your blog ... it is exeptionally beautiful!! I enjoyed a lot opening one post after the other, looking at the numerous colourful pictures, reading, imagening, smiling, looking sometimes in awe, drooling (remember the yummy chicken-dish you ate in Khartoum?) - ALF MABROUK!!
You are really special ...

Dotm said...

From your answers to Karen I now know a little more about your Country. Thanks.
Like Karen I also took Latin in High school- 2 years of latin and today I remember very little of it. I guess if we don`t keep using a Language over time we start forgetting most of it. That was the only Language besides English that I ever learned.
So many different tribes using so many different Languages must make it seem like a lot of different Countries all connected near one another. Now I understand better how you must work to be able to communicate with them so that they understand you.
It is great the way you are always thinking of others and trying to help them and their families. My Heart goes out to them. Poor little children who lost their father. So hard for young ones to understand how such an accident could happen. And the Mothers now trying to raise the children alone. I feel so sorry for all of them and for their families.
Do you still see the young couple that you posted the picture of ( one where she was so much taller and you kidded with them over it)? If so, how are they doing now? They were such a happy couple that I remembered you writing about them.

Sarah said...

my prayers are with you and to all the grieving families. Peace

starry nights said...

Sorry for the loss. My prayers are with the families.

jac said...

Am flattered, not forgetting the fact I am delighted too.

Thank you for visiting my archives and I am sure that it was in complete disarray with different colours and fonts.
After coping with a demanding job, I seldom get time to tidy up my archives, after I made a change in my template last time.

Yes, I know that there are some good stories in the archives, Well! I had no idea that Arabic is taught in schools or universities in Germany.

Yes, the Latin connection in the script is true with the Hausa language.

“Hausa has had a written form for more than 200 years, at first with a variant of the Arabic script called Ajami. Ajami has largely been superseded by a Latin alphabet (called boko) which was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the British occupation of Nigeria. There are three consonants which are added to the basic Latin alphabet.”

While agreeing that you are a very a enthusiastic student, don't you think that a teacher have the right to know the student details like name and nationality and a way to communicate at least for records sake ?

Karin said...

You make me laugh .. what am I supposed to say now, something like "mea culpa"? You are right ... a teacher "has the right" to know those details. I'll send them via e-mail. (my nationality you know already ...)

No, they don't automatically teach Arabic here in schools or universities but there are of course classes for people who wish to study this great tongue ... I only snatched a few words here and there, from books, TV ect. and wish, I'd know more as I like the language a lot.
I understand you were NOT speaking about Latin as language but about the Latin alphabet in Hausa right? I was kind of wondering already ...

I didn't care about any disarray in your archives (I didn' perceive it this way either) - I only enjoyed a lot reading the stories and looking at the pictures!

jac said...

So kind of you, to read the comments in this page with interest, this in my opinion is the best part of a post and blog

Thanks for all those showers of compliments and wish to add that my outlook on this point is that what I do, which is not much, is part of my responsibility towards mankind and I do it with pleasure.

I very well know that you are taking about my friend Asri and his young wife Mihasin. I have visited them recently in the hospital when Mihasin came in the field hospital for a check up as she is about to deliver a baby soon. I will definitely publish a picture of the baby and the Mom.
Yes, they were so happy also when I saw them last.
Thanks again for sharing the thoughts.

jac said...

immigrant in canada

Thank you for the prayers and thoughts...sharing makes it a lot easier to cope with.

jac said...

starry nights
Thanks for the prayers and thougts which goes a long way.

jac said...


Well ! that makes a lot of things easier and makes me laugh too.

Yes, I am aware of your nationality and I have passed your message to the bereaved family.

I was talking about the script of Hausa language; the alphabets to be exact.

Othersideblue said...

I am so sorry for what happened to your friends, may God keep their soul rest in peace.

Your post shows you are a caring person.

Thanks for visiting my page and for the nice comments.

jac said...

Welcome to my window, thank you for sharing the sorrow.

Caring is one of very few feelings that is created with us before we are born.
Welcome again here and as mentioned in your blog...I too, do appreciate every attention you are paying

m.reza said...

oh, Dear Jac, i am so sorry, i know how you feel, been there, please accept my condolences and tears. may they rest in peace.

Dotm said...

Jac, I thought they (Mihasin and Asri) were expecting a baby soon and wondered if she had had the baby yet. I had remembered them, but couldn`t remember how to spell their names. This baby will be lucky to have parents who love each other so much. I still remember the gentle bashful sort of smile on her face in the photo you published. That expression told me what a great mother she will be. I will be looking forward to seeing the babys picture and wish them the very best, not only with the birth, but in the years to follow. May they always feel their love for each other.

jarvenpa said...

O Jac, I am touched that you visited my own site, and so moved by yours (we are looking through different windows, I think, but with hearts that are much alike). I will be reading your site now that I have found it, with grave tender care.

jac said...

Thank you so much for that kindness in sharing their sorrow and your condolences.
Now we have just the prayers for those souls; so let us share that too, though we are miles apart and divided by faiths.

jac said...

It seems that you remember lot of things about them.

You will see them again in my blog soon, with the new born.

jac said...

Oh! No!
This not the first time that I visit your blog.
I visted there once by drifting in by getting the link from mindinside. Though I couldn't read all, I saved that link to visit again. I am sure that I liked what I read and that we visit each other more often.

hellbunny said...

I an so so sorry for the loss of your friends.Please take care and love and hugs to you my dear friend.

jac said...

Thanks, but just remember them in you prayers.

Inji Pennu said...

I don't know what to say. This is soo horrible.I dont know why such things happen like this?

I liked the way you write about Nigeria.This is so fascinating to me.And you dont write like an outsider...

jac said...

Thanks for visiting me and sharing your thoughts.

Come again plz.