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Florist Life Pleasure And Sorrow

Florist Life Pleasure & Sorrow

(A true story)

By Vaman Acharya

The morning sun was bright and the sunlight was warm. The sparrow was chirping on a tree. I was glancing over the headlines of the newspaper, while tasting the aroma of filter coffee.

I saw the gate was open. An elderly woman entered inside for alms.

"Why did you come inside?"

I asked her in anger.

She saw my face and tears rolling down on her cheeks.

"I am Shivamma, florist," replied in a faint voice.

I could recognise her only after she told her name. I am seeing her after a gap of three years.

"Shivamma, why are you begging? Are you not keeping good health? What happened to you?"

"I am begging at this old age and suffering from many diseases. I am in deep trouble. I am too weak to work. My only son Murugesh sent me out of the house and the daughter Girija is neglecting me," she replied, unable to stand properly.

I felt very much for her precarious condition. I gave her water. Seeing her condition, I gave money and told her to have food and take care of health. While leaving, she had a smile on her face.

The memories of fifteen years ago about this old lady struck to my mind based on her answers to my questions asked to her on different days.

She was a florist who had a strong voice of shouting flowers early in the morning on the road. People call her by the name Shivamma. At that time, she was healthy and active. She was carrying on her head a big bamboo basket full of varieties of threaded flowers, a bundle of loose thread, empty plastic bags and a small scissor. To get relief to the head, she kept the folded cloth on her head below the basket. Her method of selling flowers was quite unique.

She measured the threaded flowers elbow hand counting one, two, three. The payment was also as per elbow hand. In the early morning she was moving very fast on the road. If she was a little away and shouting, we would recognize her voice. Most of her customers, including our family, buy flowers on a monthly and daily basis. Whenever she demanded money, we used to give. Shivamma had good memory power. Sometimes, she demands more than the monthly bill on the occasion of festivals and to meet her medical expenses.

She never waits even for one minute at the door. Shivamma never gets annoyed. She was delivering the flowers smilingly. This was going on for several years.

Shivamma was living alone in the dilapidated house on a free of rent situated in an area, where the people hesitate to live. Girija after attaining marriageable age tied a knot with a labour Muniraju and Murugesh, who was two years younger than his sister also married with Kanakamma a building worker and stayed in separate houses. Shivamma was managing her livelihood out of the earnings from the petty business of selling flowers. She wakes up every day at 6 am and arranges the flowers with the help of thread. Twice in a week she visits the wholesale flower market and buys. She walks on the road up to the bus stop and catches a city bus. Driver and conductor knew this old lady and they paid her bus fare turn by turn. She finishes the delivery of flowers to every house by nine am. By the time her business was over, she was tired and used to sit on a stool for some time provided by the lady of the cart -ridden tea stall. The owner of the tea stall did not charge for a cup of tea and one piece of banana or biscuits for Shivamma. She reaches home by city bus at three pm. When she was in a good relationship with daughter used to get lunch and dinner every day. On special occasions like festivals, she enjoys holidays with them. Whenever she falls ill, her children attend to her. After her children got married, they slowly neglected Shivamma. She became very old and unable to continue as a florist. She continued to live in the same risky house. Shivamma was getting a pension of rupees five hundred from the government under the 'Jeevan Sandhya' scheme. During the rainy season the situation was horrible. She started begging and cursing her children.

Save for a rainy day is very well- but not when there's a hole in the roof and a storm ringing outside. Shivamma had a regular habit of saving money. She, being illiterate, kept the money in the steel box, which was locked and she never parted with the key. When the box was full, either son or daughter took out the money by giving trouble to the mother. Murugesh and Girija share the entire cash saved by Shivamma. Her efforts of saving money for a rainy day utterly failed and she suffered a lot in the evening of her life.

I came out of the old memories, when my mobile was ringing.