It wrecked me. Watching him.
He knew his purpose. I thought I knew mine.
Time has proven me wrong. Time has latched onto my brain and caused me to think about him. What was done to sunflower man. It’s wrong.
I had the might of an empire protecting me. How brittle that turned out to be.
He had his faith. Or many faiths. He watered every day. That was the thing he believed in most. His beneficiaries thrived because of the tender care he gave them.
Dust storms came. Bombs shook everything. The world turned orange. It turned loud. Nothing was certain during that year I spent in hell.
Except that he would find water and pour it out on those golden yellow survivors he created. They were never orange. Even during the hellish dust storms, if you got close enough, they remained bright yellow around the perimeter, with a dark brown center made of seeds. How beautiful.
Because, sunflower man tended and gardened. In circumstances that would make most of us crumble into pieces.
I don’t know how he came up with the seeds, or the clay pots, or the soil. He just did. That earned my respect. And caused me to think of him. Almost a decade later, I remember his haunted face. Serene and dignified.
Imagine. Invaders are coming to your metropolis. Or your rural farm. That part matters not. What matters is how you react when the reality you’ve known your whole life is taken away. Sunflower man. He knew what to do.
Give something life in the midst of hell. Pour the water out. Keep the pot tended carefully. Provide a stick to hold up the fragile nature of existence. I sometimes wonder where he is. Deep in dreams, I tremble and shake.
Shamed. By his bravery and my cowardice. While he grew life, I was a mouthpiece. While he carried nothing but a watering can and his resolve, I shook and cowered protected by the latest technology. Body armor and a gun can never defeat a sunflower man.
I’ve learned my lessons the hard way. I hope you’ll hear his voice passed on through mine.
Perhaps I’ll recover a picture of sunflower man one day. If so, I hope to share it with you. He’s my idol. Far braver than most. Far more determined. Far less lucky.
All my respect is his.
A memory for Raya.