“I got flowers today! It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day.” But what price does the woman in Jibril Mailafia’s short film Got Flowers Today (2016) have to pay for her husband’s nice gesture?
Got Flowers Today is a short computer-animated film that visualises I Got Flowers Today, a poem written by Paulette Kelly in 1992. The poem is recited by the female character of the film, whose life is in the hands of her abusive husband. At night, he yells at her, beats her, and even chokes her. During the day, he shows her that he loves her by sending her flowers. Apparently, he didn’t mean to be so rude to her.
Meanwhile, you, as a viewer, stand behind a tree looking into the window of the house where the family lives. You see the beaten woman standing behind the window of her kitchen, with the flowers in her hand and excusing her husband for what he did to her last night. The following night, we look through the window of the living room, where one shadow abuses the other. This way, Mailafia places you in the position of a passive spectator. You almost feel guilty you cannot intervene.
The recited poem is accompanied by classical music, which gets more dramatic every time night falls. Until after the last night. A deafening silence and a black screen take over. The voice-over starts reciting the last part of the poem. “I got flowers today. Today was a very special day. It was the day of my funeral. Last night, he finally killed me” It feels like you are the one who gets a punch in your stomach now.
The woman didn’t have the courage to leave her husband, she concludes. Hopefully, Mailafia’s short film encourages battered women on this International Women’s Day to do stand up for themselves, even if their husbands send flowers every day.