Monday, June 20

Recollection of earlier fragrances

A flower, which blooms only before the month of October, or is it, irrespective of the month, a harbinger of Pujo ? The occasional maths exam that religiously commenced on the week before Mahalaya had deprived me of their smell. That preserved
smell of “A.C r hawa” wrapped in plastic bags which had new clothes inside, from the
only air-conditioned shops with clothes kept in them. The smell of shoe-polish, everyday trying to shine the toe-end of the pair, occasionally drawing night sky in the hands and the next moment`s antiseptic smell of soap lingers in still-not-spilled jars of memories.
I could never differentiate a rotten apple from a fresh apple. I seldom ate one. But I could make out a new book from an old one. Like a lover kissing those hidden letters kept between its pages,I took in their fragrance.The only time , I cuddled my big-fat mathematics book which lost interest in me as it grew old. The smell of “abir” has dragged me to play with them ,to let people paint my face with them. That tinge ofjealousy coming from the neighbour`s kitchen which stuffed my nose with smells of kababs and kormas which changed to the unwelcoming smell of dried fish when the neighbours changed.That faint memory of the story of a man who satisfied his apetite taking in the smell of all the sweet-meats in a sweet-shop sniggers and pokes me all the time that every tiny fraction of the fragrance of a rasgolla,or icecream that I stole from “Arun Sweets”,when i had been offered just one, was for free. Standing on the chair to steal that after-shave lotion, just to enjoy its fragrance, that impulsive spraying of the after-shave lotion on my face,to cry out in pain and that threat from ma of a juvenile bearded face has abandoned me. Now the smell seems commonplace.
The orange coloured smell has always been tied to the story of a tree that sprouts through the head with its roots in my tummy,if i swallowed the seeds.The hope and despair of a wish for a chewing-gum tree which never
came out from the so-many gums that I had swallowed. Minty sadness.Or was it the taste ?

Good things happen to good people. That then-so hard puzzle why our house-maid after
washing all our clothes and cleaning our rooms smelled bad has stopped bothering me.Is it the smell or the taste of a toothpaste which feels so comforting ,that occasional sniffing of nose while brushing my teeth has atrophied long ago. Maybe the smell of hot jalebis still hasn`t left me.I always dreamt of being that small boy who ran away from home,angry that no-one listens to him,only to be taken back by Ramu Kaka and greeted with a plate of Jalebis bringing a twinkle in his face.I never dared to do that.I never understood the difference between smell/fragrance/scent. Could a fragrance never be bad ? That comb with the smell of vermilion ingrained in it which had a three-in-one purpose, to comb my hair, to keep the vermilion intact in my mother`s forehead and to give me scars whenever I made a ”silly” mistake in my maths exercise book.

The pungent ,acrid smell of a bus-stand,and that cocunut oil flavoured fragrance on those numerous heads in a village-bus will always bother me .The smell of the first rain hasnt left me. That smell of the hot earth getting soaked by the first few drops still drags me out into the open air.The smell of that soaked stretched out hands and closed eyes with the diluted fragrance of that certain brand of perfume will romanticize me forever. A view from a distance. Not close enough to rake up that memory, but not far enough to forget it.That forbidden smell of one`s sweat (order from the high-court,causes sickness), which is the only thing that remains after every layer of borrowed ones have been peeled off is the only fragrance that we are born with.I refuse to believe that they come from the decomposition done by bacterias.

I want to smell music before I die .Or the words that come out from a pen, sometimes demanding, sometimes reassuring.

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