What Good Are Flowers To The Dead?

Although Visiting Orchids is a fictional story, it is based on reality.

Most Mumbaiites will be aware that in Bandra, street urchins whisk away fresh flowers from graves and cemeteries and sell them to passers by at traffic signals. The patiently waiting executive at the wheel of his car at the signal lights is soft target for selling these fresh flowers. 

In my story, that's what happens to Tony except that the grave from which these flowers have been lifted is his beloved Ria's grave who had died suddenly the previous day. 

Tippy analyses this phenomena in her research paper on this short story. She says, of what use are flowers to the dead? Point. Of what use indeed?

Once gone, a person has no need for material things, he or she needs no water, food, clothes and certainly not flowers. Yet those who are left behind and are haplessly grappling with the loss of a loved one, makes these gestures to the departed soul - a sort of an underlining of their love. The flowers they place so tenderly on graves epitomize their sentiments. They may be useless to the dead but they award a sense of deep satisfaction to the family who makes this offering.

When children nonchalantly walk away with these offerings and strike a commercial bargain out of it, something is shaken. Some latent morality - as if the pain of loss was brushed aside for money...as if emotions were ruthlessly dismissed and discarded. Something is certainly amiss here. Something is just not right.

Then there's the other side of the story. The side that Tippy graciously highlights. She espouses that hunger and desperation drive children to do this unethical act. These children are so poor that they do not get two square means a day. So where's the harm if they pick up fresh beautiful flowers from the graveyard and sell then on the roads. Besides they are not forcing anyone to buy the flowers. Those who make a purchase may or may not be aware from where these flowers are sourced. But does it really matter? Don't their ends justify their means?

I guess that us the crux of the debate - ends justifying means. Now you have it all laid out here - a soulful offering to someone you dearly loved now snatched and sold for a price to satisfy hunger...

Any comments dear reader? Any views on this subject that you'd like to share? Your response is welcome!