There once was a poor man. The colour of his clothes had faded, including the ones he used for interviews. His old shoes were fastened with wires. His small shack, made of old material, leaked on a rainy day and overheated on a sunny day. When walking on the streets, people ignored his greetings. Others looked at him from head-to-toe and looked away with disgust. He barely afforded himself. His fellow men avoided him and women never noticed him. He wouldn’t dare ask for their hand in a relationship let alone marriage. He had nothing. He was a nobody. He stopped attending church after hearing some female congregants gossiping about how he would come wearing the same blazer, trousers and embarrassing shoes.

To survive, he did piecemeal jobs in the community. He went house-to-house asking to fix yards. He had no machine so he worked using a spade. They paid him peanuts and others chased him away like a dog that had eaten eggs. On other occasions he recycled plastic bottles and old metals. Although he was poor he prided himself as a man of honest living. His meals were not a transformation of the tears of others. Jobs were scarce. For the man eating four times a day was a luxury. Some days were so bad that he went to bed hungry. Hopeless.

Seeing no future in the community he went away. He left his shack behind in pursuit of greener pastures. Rumours started circulating about his whereabouts in the community. People claimed to have seen him in town dirty and pitifully asking for food. Others said he was a madman roaming around in town turning dustbins upside down looking for something to eat. Some even went on to say he was sniffing glue, and smoking nyaope, in town with tattered clothes which barely covered his body.

After more than a decade away he returned. He was an accomplished man. He turned his shack into a beautiful block of flats in which his tenants resided. He exchanged luxurious cars and owned exquisite houses. People started accusing him of being a proud man. Men said he was a bull that fed alone. Women complained of him ignoring them. Others started describing him as a rich, selfish man who did not greet. They all had forgotten how harshly they treated him in the past. They had forgotten how they degraded and embarrassed him.


Tell us: Do you believe it is important never to judge a book by its cover?