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I was brought up in a different house, not the one I currently live in. The new house, I know it from only a couple of years ago. The old one, it was what I called home. Even when I dream now I see myself in the old house. It was cozy and it gave a comfort my new house could never give. The Sundays were perfect there. My home used to smell of marigolds when I would go by the room where the idols of Lord Krishna was kept adorned with flowers and a censer containing a burning incense spreading its fragrance in the entire room. Mother would be in the kitchen cooking my favourite dal and the smell of the chicken curry being stirred would make me hungry and eager for lunch. The parlour would have the TV on being watched by Dad sipping a cup of Darjeeling tea just before lunch, a peculiar habit. The smell of the tea would somehow remind me of a beautiful sunrise on a faraway field sans people but birds and cattle. And my room would smell of nothing else but books; there were five bookshelves in my room filled with nothing but books of all sorts – novels by various writers, encyclopedia, magazines on various topics, religious books, et cetera.
But there was this particular smell I never liked – our neighbour smoking like a chimney and the polluted air entering my room through the ventilators and windows. I am an asthma patient and hence my tolerance level to cigarette-smoke is negligible. Being an asthma patient also keeps me from enjoying many things in my life, particularly when it comes to being able to identify various smells. And when the smell is not strong enough it, without a trace of doubt, escapes my senses.
“Noticed that smell?” I have often been asked while the answer invariably has been a “No” with a shrug.
“Nose block,” I would reason.
Because of my frequent nose-blocks I’d sometimes apply a little too much deodorant as I could never tell how much would be too much. Sometimes Mom would tease me that when I use the deodorant it acts as an air freshener and the whole house smells of me.
This reminds me of my first date. May be I had sprayed a lot of deodorant on myself that day or may be just the adequate amount; I can’t tell but this is what happened. That day when I returned back home I received a romantic text from the guy that my fragrance reminded him of all the good things in the world. I, since that day, made it a point to wear that deodorant every day and to my utter surprise he would always compliment me on the smell I have (the credit goes to the deo of course). Too bad they do not make that deo anymore.
Ever since I switched my deo, I do not get compliments anymore on “my” fragrance.
But then dates and fragrances always have some connection. So when my deo wasn’t the same anymore, the notice came to the cosmetics I use.
So this is what happened – I love to brag about how little or no cosmetics I use. I would keep on telling that I go outdoors without applying even a dab of talcum powder. So one fine day, when we were sitting together, he asked, “what’s that smell?”
As usual, I had no idea what he was talking about, “what smell?”
“Aah.. lacto calamine. I love it. You put that on for me?” He guessed the smell of the product I used on my face and to my utter dismay, he was right. I was embarrassed and he had a great laugh seeing me giving in to the contradiction.
Another day, he just guessed the shampoo I used on my hair and that too quite easily.
But of all the compliments I ever got, the best one was a text that said – “when your hair is open, it smells of heaven.”
But then if there is a heaven, a paradise, I would like that to smell like my home, our old house, which is dilapidated due to a sudden earthquake, and the remains sold out.