Monday, July 28, 2014

An Unforgettable Fragrance

I was sure it was Her. It had to be. I knew that smell. Even over the smell of those decadent fudgy brownies baking in the oven. Even over the smell of my 'possibilities' perfume I dabbed on hurriedly, this morning. 

I stopped myself and shut my eyes, taking it in. I had not smelt Her in a few years now.

I took a few steps back and it was gone. and I came back to that exact spot and there it was again. It was like She was standing right there.I felt a momentary pang of guilt. I had forgotten Her. But I brushed it aside and tried to focus. I wanted to smell Her till I could.

It was a very distinct smell. A scent that one acquires over time. Maybe it was Her herbal oil; that She rubbed gently into Her silver hair before Her bathing ritual. It was a ritual, because it was done very religiously every few days. She was always cold and never sweaty so that was enough, She reasoned. First the oiling, then the waiting while my mother patiently collected 4 buckets of hot water. Then bath itself which took almost an hour. Long, steamy and luxurious. 

Maybe it was Her herbal soap. A dark green bar that had been around for as long as I can remember. It smelt of Mother Nature herself. Pure and fresh. 

Or maybe it was that scent that came with  Her few remaining possessions. Possessions of fruitful years gone by- a smell that is magically preserved in prayer books and suitcases; in black and white photos and in old sarees.

Or the scent that arose from the collage of memories that She held so close. How Her husband was like pure thangam. And how Her affluent  family owned a boat. How they ran the cinema for the whole village. How wonderful Her life was in the tea estate. The fragrant memories that reminded Her of  Her youth. Now deeply etched into every wrinkle and every ache that her body developed.  
A warm, sweet and slightly musty scent.One that you want to keep under your pillow and pull out every time you want to be sure that life is going to turn out OK.

And in a fleeting moment, I was interrupted by my 5 year old. A vigorous shake indicating an emergency. His little sister had spilled some juice. Again. For the fifth time, he said rolling his eyes. But She had left by then. My oven timer 'dinged' announcing that the brownies were ready. I got busy again. 

But I was glad that Grandma came to visit. 

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