I know of a man, one whom you do not know because you’ve never seen him, and never will. I’ve never met him too and I do not think I ever will. He is not the kind of person we might want to associate with but his story will leave you wishing you had met him. His name was Charlie, Grandpa Charlie.

He was a trash collector, always adorning his extra-large clothes with patches at the elbow region of his sleeve and another on the knee area of his khaki jumpsuit. They were bound to be there because he would always kneel down or crawl around in dirt, fishing out the treasures in trash which no one saw. And when he found one, he would chuckle to himself and let out a wide smile, revealing his scattered set of teeth covered in yellow film. He had lost a couple of them too so you could almost count the number of teeth he had.

Grandpa Charlie had also lost some of his fingers, the remaining with which he would ruffle his grey hair whenever he was extremely joyful with the treasure he found while walking back to his truck. Whenever Grandpa Charlie was not at home, you could almost guess where he was – the junkyard which had become a second home to him. With his attitude and gruesome looks, Grandpa Charlie would pass for a lunatic if he wandered alone in some other towns and cities but back at home, he was never seen as one.

On the contrary, children would always be found sneaking into his compound to behold his treasures which he would stack up at his backyard. On more occasions than not, he would see the kids, stomp out of his house in his crooked movement and a smile showing his teeth and call out to the kids. He would then give them some of his treasures which could be a wooden toy soldier with one arm detached or a cuckoo bird house with a broken roof. The kids would then jog off happily and he would retire to his house pending the next moment some new set of kids would come around.

In trash, Grandpa Charlie found treasures to spread around to those who had little or none. He was not the richest man around, on the contrary, he was the poorest man in his neighbourhood. In his poverty Grandpa Charlie had enough riches of happiness and joy to spread. He discriminated not nor did he hoard his treasures from those whom it made happy.

He was poor, yes, but he never looked down on those who were poorer than he was. The parents of the kids who came could have not afforded to buy their children the toys they wished they had but these, Grandpa Charlie was able to provide.

As nature would have it, sadly, Grandpa Charlie passed on. He was buried in the traditional way of laying his corpse six feet below the ground, never to be seen again. He is dead, yes, but his legacy lives on. Yesterday I learnt about Grandpa Charlie, today you have, tomorrow let someone know who Grandpa Charlie was too.

As my best friend would say, “help someone who may never be able to repay you”, so also I tell you, “put a smile on the face of someone who may never relive that moment”. Be like Grandpa Charlie.


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