A Plastic Rose by Psychology student Rimsaa Karim

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Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey

The wind blows violently hitting the worn buildings as it makes its way across the city. The town square bustling with those on their Saturday outings. Puddles sparsely spread across, displaying the signs of yesterday’s heavy rainfall, reflecting the light of the sun peeking through the clouds. 

I remember coming here in the summer; the distinct difference in the mood becomes apparent. The smell of dampness, looking at the old buildings with their paint slowly chipping off and the people walking quickly as if they all suddenly have somewhere to be.

The bells of the bright red tram ringing as it moved through the crowds that automatically part as it seeks way for its passengers in the city center. I stayed there; my feet glued to the ground staring out into the distance, watching the crowds move wondering how these people made it through every day like this. The hectic crowds, facing people every day in hopes for residents or tourists that may feel some remorse.  

This is the typical day of the Syrian refugees attempting to make a new life for themselves in Taksim Square, Istanbul. Turkey in the past few years has become a hub for refugees as they cross the border and try to make a new life for themselves and their families. That is for those that survive the trip. 

Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey

These refugees are displaced from their daily lives back home in Syria, grieving the loss of their loved ones and even those who were left behind. Sadness rips over me as I recall how they stand there on the streets day and night begging for some remorse, for some hope that someone may help them. 

Wearing coats that are too thin to withstand the cold temperatures of the city, dark grey clouds passing through the sky giving the illusion of rain to come, holes in their gloves that have seen better days as they hold their hands to tourists wearing expensive jackets and carrying shopping bags from their adventures in the area. Many even resort to selling packets of tissues or small flowers to tempt strangers into thinking that they are making an exchange for money that they need to survive. 

One young boy in particular caught my eye as he walked up to me in his T-shirt and trousers that were barely adequate for the weather conditions

 “Would you like a flower?” he asked looking up at me with his glistening green eyes with dirt on his face as he held out a plastic rose.

 Feeling remorse, I asked him “how much?”, wondering what this boy thinks he will need to make it through the day. 

He came closer smelling of sweat and grease, hoping that he could finally convince me that this flower was what I needed. “Please” he said, “I need some money for food.” 

How could I refuse? A cute young boy, thrown from his home, selling me a flower on the street for his lunch. Watching this boy’s actions and the way he presented himself made me wonder how these people managed through this every day. 

Going out into the city center and watching people enjoy their day as they hoped that maybe these people will be the ones to assist them. How could I not help, looking at him, knowing what he’s been through. How could anyone refuse? In the end, he would just be an unknown face that I will remember as the lost boy whose smile made my day as I bought a plastic rose.