The Mystery of Mandigo 

Nobody knows the story of Mandigo, so we didn’t have much to say about him. That's a lie talked about him all the time because we didn't know much about him. We asked ourselves, during our gossip sessions, what he was about. At the end of each session we were left no wiser on the topic that was Mandingo. He moved into our plot about a year ago. He never spoke unless spoken to. When he replied it was with one word answers.  He never initiated conversations or exchanged common pleasantries with neighbors. Even when a neighbor said  hello, he was barely heard when he replied. Sometimes he just nodded in acknowledgement.

What we all agreed about him was that he was clean. His doorstep veranda, despite the dust that was common on our plot, was always clean. So we assumed his house was clean too, although no one had ever been to his house. When he moved in some neighbors, the welcoming committee of the plot, tried to get invited into his house.  Mandigo didn’t bite. Maybe he saw through the facade of the fake smiles and rightly concluded that they just wanted to see what kind of TV and sofa sets he had in his house. He had simply said thanks and shut his door on their faces.

He was a mystery and boy did the girls love him. His broody looks had something to do with it, but it was the mystery that had girls in the plot pining for him. They just wanted to figure him out and help him with whatever demons he seemed to be fighting and or hiding in his house. To make him even more alluring, he  never brought a girl home. In fact he never brought anyone home.

We tried once, to get some information about this mysterious neighbor from the landlord’s son. He, the landlord’s son, attends our gossip sessions all the time. He knows that information makes for great gossip session. It doesn’t matter if it's true or not.  He was invested so he asked his father. To no surprise, he didn’t get much. Unlike other places, on our plot you don’t have to tell the landlord anything about yourself. All he wants to know is that you’ll be able to pay rent.

So for months, we wondered about Mandigo. I, acting on behalf of the gossip committee, tried to ask casually what he did for a living. He had been walking home from the shops, and I was going on the opposite direction. But he didn’t know that, so I pretended to head to the shop and quickly caught up with him. After the pleasantries and small talk about the hot weather, to which he grunted his inaudible replies, I asked what he did for a living. He totally caught me off guard when he answered that he was a salesman.  I guess I wasn’t expecting a reply. “That must be exciting,” I had feigned interest. He smiled and said that it was just as we got to the plot.

“He must sell drugs,” someone at the next gossip session said.  “He is too shady to be selling anything legit,” they added.

The mystery of Mandigo came to an end two days ago.  The landlord’s son had said that he had discovered  these “weird” witchcraft artifacts in Mandigo’s house. No one had asked how he had gotten into Mandingo's house. When Mandigo came home, neighbors had confronted him. Mary had blamed her child’s illness on him, and Kamash had said his child had been hospitalized after accepting a lollipop from Mandingo. Some men had accused him of sleeping with their girlfriends and wives. He must have bewitched the girlfriends and wives too. They had all looked at me as if waiting for me to say I had been affected in some way after talking to him.

Police officers had later been called; Mandigo had packed up and left the plot.  We talked about him after he left. We still don’t know what Mandigo was all about.  A new neighbor just moved in. She looks interesting.

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