He was a dark skinned chubby man. I had planned to pass by the day we first met, he beckoned with a pleasant smile and offered me an unbelievable discount and an assurance I will be back.
He was right, from that day he became my eleran aka meatman. This remained the case for another 3 years thereafter. He will send meat to me through my wards without taking money and leave me with the responsibility of coming to him to settle the bill at my convenience. He was proactive, invested in his trade and had a loud mouth. He always had gist. He will offer me a sit when I was heavily pregnant knowing he was going to make me bargain for a long time. The irony was how he always convinced me to buy more than I needed.
One day as I headed home from work, I couldn’t find him, I asked around and was told he was very ill. I called him and he assured me it was an ailment he could take care of in his village. He resurfaced months after, he didn’t seem much like himself anymore. I pleaded with him to get medical help but he was assured me it was the local treatment that will fix him.
About 6 months after, I had to go ask his colleague why I had not seen him for so long and he wasn’t picking my calls. He looked at me long and hard, took a deep breath and I knew what was coming.
“He is gone”, he said, “he died months ago, I thought you knew ma.” At that moment it occurred to me I never even knew his name, his first name. I felt guilt, a strange sense of loss for a total stranger who had met a need for so many years. As I walked back into my car and drove home, I cried. I can’t say why, but I couldn’t stop crying.
It got me thinking how someone who I related with for over 3 years will die before I knew his first name. About how little we know about the people we work with, call friends, even family. How death somehow gets us to want to know them for the first time…only it’s usually too late.
I miss my meat seller. I pray he is resting from all that pain he was in.