No one buys the flowers

By Mozhgan Mahjoob

Everyone has a favorite place. It could be either in the city or in the country. A place where they like to spend time, enjoy each moment in life, a place where they can enjoy peace and calmness. For some people that place is the mountain, the beach, the green forests with its mass trees, the beautiful garden with its colorful flowers, the park, the ocean or any other places. But my favorite place was a street called the Flower Street. 

Flower Street was usually crowded, and, as the name tells, shops in that street sold beautiful flowers of any kind. They sold fresh roses, daffodils, tulips, lilies, asters, jasmine, even my favorite kind of orchid and any so many others. The drops of water on those colorful flowers were always shining like small diamonds in the early morning sun. I often walked down the street, smelling and breathing in fresh air that was always filled with the flowery aroma of flowers.

The ceilings of the shops were decorated with red, white, purple, pink and blue balloons, and red smiling teddy bears inside the shops always attracted the customers. Flower Street was always clean, shop keepers washed the street in front of their shops all day. The atmosphere and vibe was so different from any other place in Kabul. Maybe that was because of the sound of music there, and the rush of lovers buying the red roses.

People used to design wedding cars with flowers, buy a bouquet to celebrate the teacher’s day. People used to buy red roses for their loved ones on Valentine’s day, and they used to celebrate birthdays, women’s day, mother’s Day and other special occasions with flowers.

There was a boy standing in front of the street. He used to sell red roses. Every time I crossed this street, I would buy a red rose from him. I must have had about 100 at home, but then I could not cross that street again…

Today, I came here after a year, and I couldn’t belief my eyes. It was the same street – my favorite – but everything was different. The pleasant vibe had gone, most of the flower shops were closed, and there was no rush of people buying flowers. Withered flowers stood outside some of the shops, no heart-shaped balloons hung from ceilings, and it was eerily quiet. There were men everywhere, women and kids begging for money and food. Nobody looked happy faces, and, moreover, I could not find that boy who used to sell the red roses.

When I asked a shopkeeper about him, he told me, “he is over there, polishing shoes.” I looked and saw the boy sitting next to a shop, his face and clothes covered in polishing ink. His jacket was torn, and he wore an old hat. He was surrounded by old shoes and slippers and he seemed sad. When I greeted him, he looked up with a bitter smile and greeted me back. “Why did you stop selling roses”, I asked? He sighed in pain, and then he looked down and began brushing the pair of slippers with more force now. “Because people stopped buying them…”

16 November, 2022