It was a pleasant evening in Paris, a little drizzle and the pathway lit-up with beautiful street lamps which resonated with the 19th century. Beautiful dim street lights with yellowish blaze lit-up the streets with the smell of beautiful roses. Fresh and alive as the people who resided there. Everyone knew the source of the aroma, the perfume, it was from the florist’s shop, she was famous for her hybrid infusions of different breeds of flowers. Each day she would try a new hybrid and put it up near the street lamp for the people of the city to judge its fragrance. She used to observe facial reactions of people when they used to pass-by the lamp, their faces used to lit-up with the smell, they used to check the origin of it, it was placed at the topmost part of the street lamp with a bouquet holder. People used to then visit her shop which was situated nearby and would demand the flowers having a similar fragrance. The florist would then reply them with a smile and would hand them a bouquet, with a note of thanks written on it with a request. The request asked the customers to refill the oil in the street lamp for each bouquet they would buy from the shop. The upcoming day the customer would refill the street lamps with oil and experience a new fragrance whenever they would visit again. This skill of the florist impressed the whole town in that remote corner of Paris.
He barely got time to walk in the sun, he was always occupied in his environment, the closed one, where the four walls imprisoned him, either of the four walls confiscated him from doing what he loved to do. The four walls would never end, either in his car or office cubicle, they followed him. He had a strange habit, he never used mobile, he would just use his laptop and his tablet in case of emergency, zero contact with the external world. He was a strange kind as people used to describe him. He was a successful person, he achieved success at an early age. He was a role model for the youth and the elders too. Everyone was impressed by his personality, but they never got to see him, they just heard about him. The only person who saw him was his driver. He was gifted with everything, except happiness. He was never able to gel with people easily. And there he was, in a new attire during the weekend, his history of keeping his identity secret during weekends to avoid partying and mixing up with people always remained the same. He used to take up a new personality for every weekend and would go to some undiscovered place to explore and to kill his loneliness.
“So, today it’s going to be joggers” His driver whispered to himself while opening the door for him.
He was dressed in joggers, and that too on a Saturday night, the least expected outfit that one would ever wear while sitting in a Cadillac which costs a fortune. Like every weekend, this weekend to he selected a random place on his Map. It was away from the hush of the city. A beautiful place in the old city of Paris. More of an unheard hallway of the ancient Paris. The driver stopped at the start of the hallway waiting for further instructions from him. He stepped out and started walking with street lamps guiding him through the lanes. He signalled the driver to leave for the day. He smelled a different fragrance as he entered a lane surrounded with beautiful houses, with paintings hung on the walls of buildings. He never came across such fragrance in any multi-million-dollar cubicles. And his search began, to find the source of that fragrance, unlike a typical CEO, he didn’t desire to captivate the fragrance and take it away from the hallway. Rather he acknowledged the fragrance by soothing the flowers, just how a newborn baby is held by his mother. He analyzed all the flowers present in the bouquet and tagged them in his notes. Just to hear a voice from behind “You’re not allowed to take that bouquet in your hands, Sir”. The florist warned him.
“Am I?” He replied, smiling back at her.
She stood there confused, with his attire and the way he was able to identify the flower breeds, though them being rare and quite uncommon to be found around. He was aware of what he was holding, she could easily sense that being a florist. But how can a person rocking joggers and formal shoes fit in as a florist? She stood there in a dilemma. Maybe he has a terrible fashion sense. She concluded.
“Well, that’s enough of you judging me.” He said, after observing her standing still and observing him from top to bottom.
“The flowers are not here for sale, although if you love the smell, you can buy oil for the street lamps as a gesture of thanks, only if you want to do charity.” She responded.
“I promise you that the lamps will never fall short on oil.” He assured her.
“That’s quite a promise, so, what brings you here,” She asked.
“I was tired with my routine, so took a metro to the most remote location ever and I’m here” He answered.
“You could not have survived in the metro and this hallway without being robbed while wearing those expensive shoes” She stated.
“Someone got their pricing right there” He replied with a smile.
“How did you manage to guess this so right, although no one has ever seen these limited-edition classic shoes till date” He questioned her with utmost curiosity.
“My husband used to be a cordwainer, he used to love his work, it was his passion and I used to learn through his stories about how satisfied and overwhelmed the customers were after receiving a hand-stitched pair from him” She answered.
“Well, that’s fun, my dad was a cordwainer too, but he was always occupied with his work, never spent time with family, maybe that’s the reason why I turned into a workaholic” He stated.
“That’s sad, but I saw you on a magazine cover, aren’t you some sort of celebrity,” She asked him.
“No, no, I’m the person behind funding the flower shop chain, “Petals”, the one at the corner of this hallway. Glad that you’re making brilliant use of my investment” He replied.
“Oh, God, I was talking with the CEO for this while, you’re more than welcome to sit inside, it’s your place.” She added absorbing the feel of being guilty.
“So, what were you as a kid,” She asked while preparing green tea for him.
“Ahh, man, those old days were brilliant as well as traumatic too”. I was pampered with love but slowly it started to fade away, but what didn’t change is the rose I used to receive every day. Mom used to tell me that dad used to send those roses to me and the foolish me used to believe that lie, soon I got to know that my mom used to buy a rose for me while going to university and got it delivered home. She was a professor by profession and a florist by passion. And I used to plant those roses in the garden expecting them to bloom. Slowly I started to accumulate hatred against my dad for not being there for family, for not giving ample amount of time to family, he became busy in his own little world, delivering premium quality hand-stitched shoes to his customers. Not even bothering about his family, not even sensing that his own kin was suffering from loneliness. Barely getting any support in my personal life, I decided to move on, so I left that town and came to this city. To create my own career.
I built an empire from scratch, one that no one could ever imagine. My work was recognized and slowly I too gained recognition as time progressed. I understood why dad used to be busy, I thought to go back home and gift him something with my first salary, but I failed to gather that much courage and I never went back home. I miss him and that’s why every week I set out on a journey to an unknown place to find peace.
So I gifted my dad with his very own shoes, I bought those shoes for thousands of dollars and masked my name so that he isn’t surprised who is the maniac who is ready to give such a hefty price for those shoes. I later gift wrapped them with my own hands, wrote a note and sent it to my dad on his birthday, I never received any response back from him. He never owned a beautiful pair of shoes for himself. This fact dug deep into my heart when I was a kid. And that’s my story & that’s why I land up at a random location every weekend to rediscover myself and trace my roots back so that I don’t feel the guilt.
She stood their motionless, listening to a stranger, CEO, and finally none other than her own son. She didn’t get to see him since his teenage and he never returned, her eyes became moist, but she decided not to reveal herself and started narrating her part of the story.
“I don’t belong to your generation, lad, a bit old-school” She added while pouring him tea.
“I want to know more about the florist in you, how did you happen not to kill your passion a long time ago, it must be something you loved to do” He asked her.
The story dates back to ’90s, I used to be a Psychology professor at a reputed university, a full-time wife and mother to the most talented son. I had to lead three different lifestyles to save my little beautiful world from drowning into the unknown. The professional life where stress was at peaks, the personal life where I had to get my husband and son to interact and had to make sure they had a healthy dad-son conversation between them and my own personal life where I was continuously working on my passion. Sooner, everything fell apart as it was destined to, what else could I do, I tried my best bringing all the three lives together but miserably failed. I felt exhausted and had to give up my dreams just to realize that our son would leave us. He left because of the poison that got brewed little-by-little every day. My husband too gave up as he became old, and he laid pale and emotionless during his last days on the death bed.
Well, that’s my story and that’s how I ended up here, pursuing my passion, killing away all the bad memories with this fragrance.
“Mom, I missed you so much,” He said with moist eyes, begging for forgiveness.
It had been a long time people ever saw him in jeans and a t-shirt. Never ever he came in casuals to office, though their office never had a dress code. But that day he did. He made eye-contact with everyone he met in meetings, smiled at people back. Used to go out for tea breaks with his fellow colleagues, removed the set of horizontally aligned monitors in his office that would cover up half of his face and replaced them with a single laptop that he would lock in his cabinet post office hours. He started leading a happier life, not because his Mom came home, rather because he could see his Mom pursuing her passion and every week he takes his Mom to a new undiscovered location. Just to find happiness.
And that day he made the final transaction by buying the whole “Petals” chain of shops as a gift to his Mom.
The Final Transaction that made him HAPPY!