Cuanto la Flor | Teen Ink

Cuanto la Flor

April 30, 2008
By Anonymous

"Christal, can you please ask him?"
"But I'm scared."
"Please, I really want to buy one from him"
"Fine...Senor disculpe..."
This is where it started. This is where I found myself. this is where i found the truth that lies behind every smile. The undeniable tragedy seen on every street and every corner. This was life.

Miles away from home, I walked the streets of Madrid. My first trip out of the country, ever. On this specific day, I decided I had to set out on my own. Group activities and walking and laughing with friends in a foreign country is fine, but on this day I needed to walk the street, with just my thoughts to keep me company.

“un euro porfavor, tengo dos hijos y necesitan comer”

a euro please, i have two children and they need to eat she told me. She was an older lady, perhaps in her fifties holding a picture of her two children. She waved it in my face, with the hope that I would find some conviction hidden within my heart and give her an abundant amount of money. However, I’m not rich, and in a country where everything is twice the amount I’m used to paying for it, I can only afford to give her the last measly cents that rattle in my pocket.

“Que Dios te bendiga”

As I walk away, feeling a bit homesick, I can’t help but look all around me and sigh. Feeling homesick is not what I’m supposed to be doing on this trip, but fro now, I longed to feel a bit close to home. Shopping is not a necessity, but to distract my mind, I go into a boutique, and make a fool of myself by asking the price of every single item I liked, making a face I didn’t know I could make and then walking out.

And that’s where the beginning… well begins. He has not feet, just two legs and nothing else after that. His legs hang from the skateboard he rides. They are like weeping flower stems, hurt and deprived from the joy of walking. His hair is piled in all sorts of directions. His shirt drags on the floor, a green that drapes against the gray cement. His eyes look down on the floor, and cry the dismay that life has brought upon him. I can’t bear to look at him anymore, but he’s not the only one. A bit further down the street, a few woman can be seen scattered, sitting on the floor. Their bodies are disproportioned as well as their lives. Their height is enough to make anyone look away, but the additional flesh that hangs from their bodies is the cause of the brutal rejection of people’s compassion.

I couldn’t look anymore, so I did what any silly American girl would do. I ran into the most familiar, and safest place I could find; McDonalds. Oh why irony chooses to follow me, I do not know. Considering that I barely step into McDonalds when I am home. It’s near “seventeen” o’clock and I have to start heading back to the main square where our whole group is supposed to meet for dinner. Before heading out, I meet my friends, who sat in McDonalds. Madrid is one of the best places to have an authentic Spanish dish, and here they were, finishing their fries, which they ate with nostalgia.

As we head back to the main square, I wasn’t ready for what I saw. He sat there, the typical look that I had seen all those other unfortunate people wear that day. His hair was a mess, and his clothes sagged to the ground, twice his size. His eyes were brimmed black, from the lack of comfortable sleep. He sat on a chair, the kind they make for those happy children with happy childhoods. He had his legs underneath him, folded in a delicate manner, because he seemed to understand the value they possessed. His hands were small. Probably as small as mine, but his showed the hardship of life. They held several cuts and warts and they were dirty like those of a five year old who has been place with his father’s tools. To any other person, they were the hands of a beggar, but at that moment I could see through his eyes. I could see the troubles that life had put in his way, and made him stumble into pits and roads of unworthy notice. His hands were as small as mine, yet they were strong. And softer. And bigger all at once. Above all, they were beautiful. Right there and then, all the people I had seen before seemed so unworthy of my sympathy. And in myself I found a new sort of admiration and respect for those who, unlike me, didn’t complain about what life had made of them, but instead grasped the concept that they made their own lives. They made it suitable enough to live in happiness apart from the fact that they may be incomplete and not as bright and fortunate as the rest of the world seems to be a t times. Before him lay a dirty green blanket, with an unnamable stain in which he placed his creations. Miniature chairs, small enough for people’s hopes and dreams to sit on. Ashtrays, to hold the smoke and ash of those who daily shortened their lives. And now as we watched, he broke a can, seeming to break all the bad things in the world, and working his hands around it, he made a flower. A simple flower which re-defined what joy, anger and the misfortune of life could produce. Standing I awe, we watched, as he made a beautiful flower from cans he daily collected, and made into things such as these, selling them as the sun set upon another day in Madrid, and people started heading out for their night lives. So this might be the only times I will ever see this man but it doesn’t matter because here I stand. And here I will stand for the rest of my life. In this very same place, on a little corner of Madrid, asking the man with the most beautiful hands in the world,

“Cuanto la flor?”

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