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I don’t understand it, but neither will I fight it. The feelings I have towards the young man who wears the same torn, blue jeans and black shirt six days in a week. The man with the longest unkempt dreads that really need a good wash. The fella that sits by the fruit vendor at the corner of the tiny dirty road next to the fancy hotel. The man who looks as ragged as they come. I don’t know what he does for a living because for the past three years I have never seen him leave the old vendor’s side.

I first saw him one evening, three years ago when I was still in second year. I’ve always had the habit of buying fruits every evening. As I rummaged through my purse for coins to pay the old lady, my national ID fell. He picked it and instead of handing it to me, he looked at it and laughed. That man just laughed at my ID!! Remembering how ridiculous my ID photo looked, I felt embarrassment hit me hard for a second before turning into anger. He didn’t have the right to look at my ID like it was his. I seethed inwardly but stretched my hand, a cold smile on my lips.

                                                                        “Thank You.” I murmured as he handed it back and without a word, went back to looking at the nganyas revving exaggeratedly at the bus stop. I stared at him for a few seconds and was stunned when my heart skipped a bit after discovering that underneath the rough and uncleaned hair, beards and sidebands was a face pleasant to the eyes, eyes beautifully shaped and lips that simulated sinful thoughts. His gaze met mine and I quickly averted mine mentally kicking myself. Now he was going to think that I want him to flip me like barbecue. Not wasting another second, I walked away. That was the very first time I met him and also the first of my many unwarranted trips to that particular fruit vendor. The next day I went, the man waved, I smiled, he laughed and went back to looking at the Matatus on the stage. Third day, same. A year later, I felt like I had known him well enough to know when he was in a good or bad mood. No, we never exchanged words, he never spoke even to the old lady who he is always sitting beside, but whenever he did not wave and smile at me when I ‘visited’, he would always have this troubled, faraway look.

Three years later, seeing him had become a normalcy, a part of my daily routine, I even went to buy fruits when I had plenty in my house. I had gotten used to his silence, his smile and wave so much that when he was having one of those bad days and neither smiled nor waved, I would intentionally drop something Infront of him, he would pick it and hand it to me with a small smile on his lips. This went on until three months ago. I had just finished my final year exams and had gone out to celebrate with friends. A little alcohol here, a lot of twerking there, a little Karaoke here, and when it turned into a lot of making out there, I slowly sneaked out. I looked at the time and freaked out. 2. A.M. Maybe I should have waited for them to calm their drunk horny selves and then walked home with company. I shook my head and figured that I could just rush to the house, it wasn’t far from the place, and there were a few people still on the road.

I had just gotten a few feet from my house when a fight broke out very close behind me. So close that one palm touched my back. I quickly turned to look but froze when a knife coated in blood dropped next to my feet. I slowly looked up and saw two men. One dropped my purse and ran away, the other was holding onto his bloody side. My eyes widened when I saw that it was HIM. My ragged gold. My eyes moved from his smiling face to his wounded side, to the knife on my feet. I looked at my purse’s broken chain still on my shoulder and then at the carrier part that he was picking. Like every other time, he smiled while handing it to me but this time, he spoke. His low, heavy voice sending chills down my spine.

                                                                “Zeke. My name is Zeke.”

Before I could speak, he was gone, running into the night. That night I cried, I don’t know why, but I wept. As I fell asleep, I made a mental note to check on him, thank him and maybe buy him some fruit the following day. Only when I went, he wasn’t there, even the old lady, who turned out to be his mother did not know where he was. I hope he is alive.

Three months later, after buying fruit from the lady. I walk to my house, smiling sadly. It’s funny how the absence of someone you’ve never had a conversation with could impact your life. As I open the door to my bedsitter apartment, I can’t help but think, at least I know his name and that he isn’t mute. As I close the door behind me, I realize that he might have looked ragged but to me he had become valuable gold.


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