I stood at the flower shop on Benson Street with a smile on my face. “I need a nice bunch of flowers for my mother; beside the fact that she loves flowers, today is her birthday.”
“You lucky man,” the flower seller, a woman in her thirties, said also with a smile. “This bunch of flowers your mother will love.”
I asked, “You started this business not too long ago?”
“Yes,” she said, “about two years ago.”
“How well is it going for you?”
“Pretty much,” she replied, “I did not realize that people here love flowers.”
“How easy is it to be in such a business?”
She kept the smile in place and swept her head back, rolled her eyes, turned to look at me and said, “As I said, I’ve been in this business for the last two years and my patrons have been people who have class and love their parents.”
“You get customers from all over the country?”
“Not all over,” she said, sitting down behind the counter, “There are people here who love flowers and want them at various occasions.”
“Quite right,” I said. “I need flowers during an occasion like this when it is that of my mother’s.”
I could not hide my appreciation for the woman’s remarkable interest in her flowers.
“My family love flowers,” I told her, “and my mother’s birthday is today. Do you have a service to send the flowers to wherever you are asked?”
“Yes,” she said, and her sweet smile raced across my face.
“I want you to send the flowers to my mother.”
“Where does your mother live?”
“Tubmanburg,” I said. “The address is easy to find.”
Still keeping her smile in place, she said, “I know Tubmanburg, a small town. I have a business contact there and we can deliver your purchase to her.”
“It’s about 8:15,” I glanced at my wristwatch.
She said, “Yes, the flowers can be delivered at 2p.m. today. She will be contacted on her cellphone once the flowers are in Tubmanburg.”
“That’s wonderful,” I said.
While the discussion went on, I noticed a young boy in a blue shirt and black trousers standing far away from me, watching me. I became curious when I saw that he had tears in his eyes. I could not figure out what was happening to him and was inclined to find out.
So when I concluded the arrangement for the flowers to be sent to my mother, I walked to the boy and inquired from him the reason for the tears.
“Today is my mother’s birthday,” he said, “and the woman,” he pointed his right hand to the woman in the flower Shop, “said the flowers cost L$1,000. And I’m just seven.”
“She would not accept my twenty dollars.”
I looked directly in his face, with personal sympathy and told him, “Ok, friend, no need to shed tears, I can help you with this.”
I took him to the flower shop.
“Give this boy the flowers he needs for his mother,” I told the woman, “and I’m going to pay for it.”
She said, “Yeah, he’s been here the last couple of minutes but I told him the money he has could not purchase any bunch of flowers.
“But since you said so, ok I will let him have what he wants.”
The boy looked at me with a grin, and lowered his head, lifting his right hand to wipe away tears that had formed there.
A few minutes later, the woman handed the little boy a bunch of neatly organized flowers. As soon as the boy received them, he began to run to the opposite direction without even saying a word to me. I regarded him with some further curiosity and smiled, remembering when I was at his age.
Several seconds later, I felt someone tucking at my clothes, and when I turned around, it was the same boy.
“’Thank you, mister,” he said, with a smile. “Thanks for the flowers.” I nodded in anticipation, saying, “No problem, son, have a nice day.”
He smiled and ran off. I could not understand the little boy’s interest in flowers and that the day was his mother’s birthday got me thinking about my mother. I could also not get it clear about the boy’s love for flowers for his mother. To my knowledge, it was not common for kids to show an exceptional interest in their parent’s birthdays. It was a thought I could not get out of my mind. But in these days of the Ebola virus disease, which resulted in many deaths, I could agree that even a child could show gratitude towards his mother. Times were changing, I thought. Meanwhile, I felt a sense of admiration for the little boy and I wished I had known him a little better to know the kind of mother he had. In any case, he was gone and that was it.
The Monrovia weather was getting hotter, now that we were in the dry season. In the wake of the declining Ebola infections people’s confidence was creeping back to their lives. The sun was early and hitting harder gradually, and many people were surprised at its early appearance.
Thirty minutes later, I made my way towards Slipway, just across from the Gabriel Tucker Bridge. The hot weather was losing its power due to the Mesurado River’s proximity to my location. The river flowed silently into the Atlantic Ocean. The sudden change of weather gave me some courage that nature had its own way of bringing reassurance that all was not lost. I began to think about nature’s provision for our existence and how wonderful things happen to bring changes in the environment for our own good.
I was in such deep thought when I was suddenly attracted to the location where a small figure sat before an old cemetery that I thought had been abandoned many years ago.
What also got me interested was the blue shirt, for it was clear that it was the little boy I had encountered nearly thirty minutes ago. The boy knelt before what seemed to be a recently constructed grave in an old cemetery. The boy sat beside a fresh bunch of flowers inserted in front that particular grave.
“What’s he doing there?” I said to myself. My curiosity got the better me and therefore I chose to find out what he was doing alone beside the grave. I descended the steps leading to the cemetery and strolled towards him.
Closer, scattered graves came in view and I realized that the most recent graves could be any of the people who died, but not really from the Ebola virus disease, meaning from other natural causes, and were interred there. But for a seven-year-old boy to be here alone was a mystery that pricked my attention, particularly so since I had encountered him sometime earlier.
The echoes of my footsteps drew the boy’s attention. He turned around slowly, and realizing who it was, said, “This is where mother lives,” as he pointed to the grave he sat behind, “and she is very grateful for the wonderful flowers.”
Suddenly, a lump formed in my throat, as I was overwhelmed with emotions. I could not get over the demonstration of gratitude and love that this little boy had shown by example to celebrate his dead mother’s birthday.
Without saying a word, I began to walk away from him, and my destination was of course to the flower shop. I arrived at the shop few minutes later and met with the beautiful lady who had assisted me earlier.
“Have you sent the flowers?”
“Not yet,” she said, “they are about to leave the office.”
“I will take them with me,” I said, “so that I can personally deliver them to my mother.”
She wanted to know why the sudden change of mind, but I was not prepared to go into it. I felt some guilt about it somehow, especially when I compared it with the little boy’s life lesson that I had just received. The little man taught me a great deal about a child’s love for his mother even if she was no longer alive. Some questions began to come to my mind: how many of those whose parents are living really appreciate them? There are some friends that I know who care little about their parents. The little boy’s instructive lesson left a large mark on me and I have not been the same since.