The Gypsy Flower Boy
--by marccastleton, posted Jun 19, 2010
In 2000, I was on holiday with my friends on the island of Corfu, Greece. One night we were walking along the main road that was lined on both sides with bars and nightclubs and it was very late maybe 11:30pm. I noticed that there were children walking along in front of me and I thought, "It is late for children to be up and about," but then I noticed that they were gypsy children, young girls and boys selling roses, or trying to sell roses to drunk tourists and gangs of girls out for the night!
I felt sad when I saw one boy, probably no older than 8 or 9, trying to sell theflowers to the passers by and getting polite and sometimes agressive responses from the people that thronged the street. "Where were his parents and what was he doing out at this time," I thought. I just felt really sad for him, but then you move on, ....to another bar....drink some more and forget.
A little while later the same little boy walked into the bar I was in and walked around offering the flowers to the people in the bar. He wasn't being a nuisance, he was just asking; I declined and the boy moved on to the next table. Just as the boy was leaving the bar the barman snatched the roses off the boy and tore them up! The boy looked stunned and then stared at the barman with a look that I have never seen from a child and I hope I never have to see again! The barman thought it was funny at first but the boy just stared at him and he stopped laughing and tried to give the boy some Coca Cola. The boy just ignored the drink and looked at the barman with a look that was far too old and spoke of the hard life he must have had.
The boy then picked up what was left of the flowers in his bucket and made his way out of the bar. I thought, "He is going to be in trouble now. He may come back without the money and may get beaten." So, I got up and followed the lad out of the bar, tapped him on the shoulder and put a 20,000 drachma ($50) note in his hand. He just looked at me gobsmacked and then I turned and walked back into the bar sat down and took a drink of my beer and smiled to myself. Maybe in that moment the boy realised that not everyone was cruel and I wonder sometimes if he remembers the stranger who paid for the ripped flowers? But it doesn't matter because I remember and it still makes me smile!!
Peace hope and love. The greatest of these is love