This afternoon, between classes, Arnold introduces us to a man he clearly admires, and who we have already heard about as the town Good Samaritan.
Feti is a money changer, who spent some years living under the bridge we’ve been praying over. Although he is now healthy and independent, Feti never forgets his days there, and now spends significant time helping marginalized people of this city. He is a large man, covered with silver chains and rings, resembling a biker more than anything, but his eyes are gentle and his face is kind.
Feti began life with alcoholic parents who physically and verbally abused him, telling him he would amount to nothing and end up in jail. His mother tortured him with a knife, stabbing him repeatedly, to the point that, as Feti grew into adolescence, he feared he would kill her. Whether he fled or they kicked him out, I didn’t quite get, but at 13, Feti went to live under the bridge. With the words, “You’ll be nothing!” ringing in his ears, Feti determined he would not only be something, but go to university.
To earn money for clothes, Feti worked in a clothing store. He couldn’t afford toiletries, so he grew a beard. He cleaned trains at night to pay for school. When he was of age to attend university, Feti moved to the
dorm, but could only stay there during the week. On weekends, the dorm closed, and Feti returned to the bridge. He describes the homeless who would gather, and the children. If they had no papers proving they were working, the Communists would round them up and put them in jail. Fortunately, when Feti began attending university, he found an advocate in one teacher, who got him the necessary paperwork.
Feti graduated and began work at the water district. He quickly achieved his goal of proving to his parents that he could be something: he became his father’s boss. While his father acknowledged the achievement, he never respected Feti, and died recently. I wondered if they ever reconciled, but Arnold was drawing the conversation to a close; presumably, Feti and/or Arnold had to leave. We got a few more facts before Feti left:
Feti moved on from that job after a short while, because he couldn’t stand the bad memories. Military duty followed, then Feti began his own business: working as a money changer, giving people an honest exchange rate. This plus some funds borrowed from friends financed a transportation company.
Recently Feti helped a man who was robbed of a large sum of money. But because of his origins, this man looks down on his benefactor. Feti shrugs his shoulders philosophically. He then tells of the drunk woman who couldn’t gather all her chickens up; they would have died in the heat, so Feti spend an afternoon gathering chickens and taking care of this woman.
Feti is also raising the daughter of a brutal father, who abused the mother. Taking her in at the age of 8 mos., Feti is now the proud guardian of a 12 year old.
We have so many questions, but now Feti and Arnold are standing and we are saying goodbye, thanking Feti for telling us his story. We hope to get more later, but as it turns out, we never saw Feti again.