Let flowers blossom in our minds

Shihab Sarkar | Published: December 19, 2015 22:13:29 | Updated: October 23, 2017 21:52:06


The wide and busy street between Shishu Academy and the Curzon Hall in Dhaka has for quite some time assumed a special significance. Aside from its being an artery connecting the city's western part with its all-too-important eastern zone, the short-length road has sprawling footpaths on its two sides. Those were built befitting the grandeur of the imposing building of Curzon Hall, the foundation stone of which was laid by Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of the British-ruled India in 1904. It now houses a number science departments of Dhaka University. The spacious sidewalks once were among the attractions of the city of Dhaka.
These footpaths used to remain almost quiet and vacant, not much used by passers-by, even two decades back. But in the following years, they began to teem with street-side traders selling fancy clay products and handicrafts made of jute, wood or bamboo slices. In no time, a new type of footpath shop-owners incipiently entered the scene with their merchandise: tubs with myriad types of flower plants and native and exotic orchids. Besides, there are different species of cacti, ferns, palm, conifers, etc. Roses of various colours and sizes occupy a dominant place in the collection.
Thanks to the increasing demand for flower plants among buyers, the open-air pottery and handicraft shops were eventually outnumbered by the flower plant sellers. At present, footpaths on both sides of the road remain agog with flower plant and orchid sellers and buyers.     The spectacle of brisk sales and purchase of these items has for sometime been a common sight in the area.
The irony is these vendors have visibly encroached on the massive footpaths. They began their business humbly, with just a handful of persons selling flower plants. With the sharp increase in the number of clients, coming in droves --- sometimes with vans and big cars to take their buy home, the small traders discovered the opportunity to expand business. More swathes of the footpath had begun being slipped into their control. The law enforcers' occasional eviction drives have not seen much result. At present the entire stretch of the sidewalk from its western end to the right-side gate (long closed) of Curzon Hall is occupied by these hawkers displaying their items. A narrow strip has been left for the passers-by, who have to struggle their way up while using the footpath. The crowd of the buyers and sellers, and small and large plants in piles occupy the major part of the sidewalk. 
One can detect a weird development here. The matter involves, of all things, flowers and plants. They represent the finer sensibilities of a section of Dhaka dwellers. People going for flowers and orchids, leaving aside gaudy consumer items, is heartening to watch. A psychological pinprick begins to work in this case. How can we disappoint the ever-increasing number of plant and flower lovers in a time when mindless violence and savageries rule the roost? But then, the right of the passers-by to safe and unhindered movement on the pavement also demands consideration.
In fact, the sight of the brisk purchase of tub-plants and flowers appears to stand in sharp contrast to the lately emerged dread and apprehensive thoughts in Dhaka. One would like to conclude that people in general are peace and beauty loving. They abhor things gory and hideous. Given this, the authorities had better select an ideal place for this business --- with a difference.
Let more flowers blossom, enabling all to pay tribute to peace and beauty. And the pedestrians' right to smooth movement on the pavement is also inalienable to them.
shihabskr@ymail.com  
 

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