I usually go grocery shopping to the same place – a matter of habit you may say. I park at the exact same place, shop for pretty much the same stuff and usually go the same day. I thought today would be no different. But it was. He wasn’t there.
I used to see him there quite regularly and around the same time. He approached me plenty of times, always dressed in the same clothes. Same but clean. And I always marveled at how clean and well-groomed he seemed; not something you would expect from a person who did what he did. He would approach with always the same question and I would always turn him away with a “No”.
Until that one day. That was the last time I saw him.
Breaking my monotone of a ‘no’, I ask, “Do you go to school boy?” After all, he looked like a decent kid meant to be in school. It was way past school hours though.
“Then why do you do this… sell roses this way?” I counted four more rose stems in his hand, what’s left for the day I suppose.
He said something I doubt I’d ever forget.
“Ma’am, I don’t have a father ma’am. I do this to support my family…”
It felt like a bolt of lightning. And I felt it almost immediately… regret. Regret that I turned him away every single time before. Regret that I didn’t buy a rose from him all those days. Regret that I couldn’t even contribute 20 bucks to this brave boy’s household…
I bought two roses that day. They somehow seemed to have lasted longer than the ones I’ve ever bought before…
And like always, I go to the same grocery shop today. As always, I buy the same stuff. As always, I park at the same place.
It’s not quite the same.
As I step into a warmer-than-usual pre-summer eve, my eyes scan each face around.
I don’t see him.
I wish I did. I wish I could buy a rose from him.
My head fills with thoughts and not-so-pleasant possibilities of what the kid might be going through right now and I try to push them away. “He’s alright, that boy”, I hope desperately, as I drive back. I enter my home and my eyes spot the flower vase. A rose ought to be in it. Perhaps two. Yeah… two roses. Wish they were there.Image courtesy: Dreamerwhit95 @ deviantart.com