Evelyn loved flowers. She loved how the flowers looked so beautiful and felt soft to the touch. She loved their silky feel, extremely tender petals and how they beautified a person or a room.
Flowers were her thing. Ask her what makes her happy and she’ll simply say “flowers.”
Her love for flowers began the first day her mother received flowers from one of her lovers. Her single mother had kept the secret of how she made money to keep them living a modest life though she didn’t work. She couldn’t work because she was asthmatic and had had crises from all the places she’d worked. Staying home and keeping away from dust, a fish free diet had helped her immensely but she’d had to make ends meet somehow.
She didn’t date 2 or more at the same time. She dated one man at a time but these men would usually lie to her about her marital status or tell her they only wanted a sexual relationship without strings. Her stipulation was that they’d spend on her. Among her specifications was to be given flowers weekly. These flowers made the room beautiful and were actually the only time her mother smiled at her.
Daavi as her mum was affectionately called would take the flowers from whoever delivered it, read the card and tell Evelyn to bring a vase filled with water. There was a vase kept specifically for that purpose and she would hurriedly bring it and watch as the dimples on her mum’s face deepened. Daavi would put the flowers into the vase, set it on a table, watch it with a deep smile. 15 years after her mum’s death, Evelyn always remembered those smiles anytime she saw flowers.
On this particular day. She had a lot of orders to fill from her “Flower Boutique.” It was a florist shop and an idea her mother had cultivated for years but had never been able to afford the setup fees. When Evelyn was in a tertiary school, she didn’t need her student loan because one of her mother’s lovers, Mr Muato financed her tuition. She’d however applied for a student loan and invested the money in treasury bills. Her plan had been to travel outside during her final year and knew her mother wouldn’t be able to afford it. She also didn’t want to put a burden on the man.
Unfortunately, Mr Muato and her mother got involved in an accident in her final year. He financed the funeral rites and two weeks after her mother was buried, drank DDT and, died. He’d been in love with her mother whom he’d wanted to marry but she’d always told him she was too set in her ways to take someone’s name again. Evelyn had been so traumatized by her mother’s death that all thoughts of traveling outside had been erased from her plans.
The idea to start a florist shop started when during the “One Week” celebration after her mother’s death, the family sat down to plan the funeral ceremony. The meeting was held at the house of the abusuapanyin (family head) on her mother’s side. She attended with some flowers because that was the only way she found comfort in her grieving. A childhood friend, Benyinwa saw the flowers and asked if she sold them. She’d told her where to get some. Unfortunately, it was late afternoon and the shop she referred Benyiwa to was closed. Evelyn been forced to sell what she was selling to her.
Suddenly, she realized that she could be closer to her mom by selling the very thing her mother loved, flowers. Benyiwa had been a repeat customer for years and even invested in it at a point in time.
Evelyn shook herself out of her musings and focused on a new customer who had entered the shop. The gentleman looked familiar and then she remembered. He was Samuel Muato.
“Hello? Can I have some flowers?” he asked in a well-modulated voice spotting an afro and neatly shaved mustache.
“Sure, Samuel,” she replied.
“Wait, how do you know my name? Don’t tell me you have Truecaller imbedded in your glasses,” he laughed.
She looked at him puzzled. “Truecaller imbedded in my glasses?” she pushed it a bit higher on her nose.
“You didn’t get the joke. Ok. You know that when you call a phone, Truecaller can help you identify who is calling without them having to introduce themselves? Well, I was asking that since you mentioned my name even though I haven’t told you.”
Her eyes widened with realization and she smiled.
“I get you now but, I don’t have any app imbedded in my glasses.”
“Okay oh but, how do you know me?”
“I know you because of my mother, well your dad too.”
It was his turn to look puzzled.
“My name is Evelyn. My mother Daavi used to date your dad till she was involved in an accident with him. I remember seeing you there with your mother.”
“Wow, and you remembered me after all these years?”
“Well, you do resemble your dad a lot. I had an instant flashback when I saw you enter the shop.”
There was silence. Then he said, “my dad loved your mom. He and my mum weren’t working things out and so drifted apart. I don’t remember who initiated the divorce proceedings. Frankly, I was glad they got divorced because it meant I could finally be free of all the arguments they had every single night. After they divorced, dad was lost. We the kids moved in with mum and he was alone. Mum wouldn’t allow us to visit him because she wanted to prove to him that she alone could make us happy. This made us unhappy. It made him also unhappy. Then he met your mother and she changed everything. He would buy and bring us toys. Send money to his mother to bring us foodstuff. My mum couldn’t refuse the old woman. I met your mother a few times and she always had these lovely dimples and smelled like flowers. Dad was smitten. Mum hated that another woman made him happy and wanted to return to him but he’d moved on. On the day your mum died during the accident, he died too. He just went through the motions until he killed himself. Mum needed a scapegoat and wanted to blame your mum but she was dead and gone. Over the years, I’ve wondered where you are and what you’re doing.”
“Well,” she blinked at all the revelations. “I guess I never knew this side you’re telling me. I only know that your dad wanted to marry her but she always said no.”
“Dad wanted to marry her but at that time my mum was trying to use us to get him to forgive her and take her back. Your mum didn’t want to come between them and decided to pull away. The day they had the accident, she told him she can no longer be with him and wanted him to get back with mum because of us kids. He lost control of the steering wheel and that’s how come they had the accident. He couldn’t forgive himself after that.”
“Hmmmm. I miss her.”
“I miss him too.”
“Well, all that is in the past. What do you want to buy?”
“I came here to buy flowers because I saw the sign but is it possible I buy you lunch? I would love to catch up with all the years we haven’t met each other.”
“Sure. Give me some minutes to check and see if no other customer will come.”
“Of course my sister. I’ll wait.”
She smiled. Sister. She liked that word. She’d never had siblings but maybe she would finally have the family she’d always dreamt of, even if it was only one “brother.”