Gul Agha's Rose Garden

I was on my back home from the Masjid where we had just completed the Eid prayers. The sky was clear, the sun was shining and the air felt happier somehow.

I closed my eyes took a deep breath, trying to breathe in the crisp air. The scent of roses suddenly hit me, and I opened my eyes to see a beautiful rose garden, growing over the mud walls surrounding the house across from me. Intrigued, I walked closer to get a better smell of the roses. I had never smelled anything this beautiful before.

I carefully looked both ways before hoisting myself up on the wall; a skill I had mastered in my childhood days when the mischievous kids of our neighborhood would sneak into gardens to steal tender fruits.

I had just hoisted myself up, and dropped myself on the other side with a soft thud. At that moment, I realized I had walked into the lion's den.

The baagh (garden) owner, Gul Agha was standing under a rose bush, reaching for a rose just out of his reach. He had already collected a few in his palm, and my sudden appearance caused him to drop the roses.

Before I could apologize or explain, he broke into a big smile. "Eid Mubarak bachem!" He exclaimed. "If you're breaking into my garden for the roses, they're all yours! Take some for your family too", He added chuckling. He proceeded to reach for the rose he had been fixated upon, as I stood awkwardly, not knowing what to do.

After a few attempts, he turned his attention back on me. "Well don't just stand there, come help me get this rose!" I shuffled towards him, reaching for the flower he had been trying to pick.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp prick in my finger and with a gasp, I quickly withdrew my hand to examine it. The thorn had pricked me deeply, and there was a small flow of blood coming out of my finger. Gul Agha laughed, seeming amused.

"This is the danger of reaching for beautiful things bachem, you must be worthy. And to be worthy, you must know how to reach for things that are only yours. When you reach for things belonging to others, you will definitely get pricked!"

"Kaka Jan, what will you do with the roses you picked?" I asked, wondering why he bothered picking the flowers through so many thorns anyways. "I will give them to my wife," he said with a gentle smile. "She planted this garden for me to when we married 48 years ago. And so, every year on Eid, I pick out the most beautiful roses for her."

Grinning, I pulled out my jacket and wrapped the sleeve around my hand. I reached out for the rose again, this time without hesitation. My hand felt the stem of the rose and I carefully picked it, making sure I didn't get pricked again. I brought the flower down and offered it to Gul Agha proudly.

Gul Agha looked at me for a moment, then burst out with a booming laugh. "Keep it child!" He exclaimed happily. "You've earned it!" I laughed along with him, our laughter echoing in the garden.

I looked around again, this time surrounded by foliage and the occasional flash of a red rose hiding amongst the leaves. 'What a wonderful world we live in', I thought. It was a beautiful day indeed.

After that day, I would visit Gul Agha every Eid and help him pick roses for his wife. Even at the risk of getting a little prick once in a while.


Story and illustration by @rasmorawaj ©

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