Monday, September 2, 2013

Scentolgia



A shaft of warm sunlight falls on the newborn I am holding in the crook of my arms. As I play and coo gibberish in his ears, I revel in the smell of love.  I miss that fragrance. There are moments when I miss it so much that I can smell it in my dreams. How do I even begin to describe it? 

The scent is a mix of milk powder, baby oil, baby shampoo and pure innocence. Of all the seductions of motherhood, the most memorable remains the joy of cuddling and snuggling your toddler. Something is so ineffably beautiful about the moment that it transcends the physical. It is bliss. Nothing else matters.

Smell may be an abstract sense but nothing is more memorable than a smell. Even if the whiff was momentary, it can evoke distant memories. And when a certain scent is tinged with emotion, it transcends beyond the realm of words.

Smiley Flashback

If I close my eyes, most of my smell nostalgia relates to motherhood: the smell of chocolate reminds me of the fresh cakes I baked; the smell of books reminds me of the tension during board exams; the smell of Vicks reminds me of the bouts of cold; the odor of Dettol reminds me of the deep gnash on his right knee, and the faint smell of a balloon reminds me of blowing several balloons on his birthday.


How can I not talk about the smell of coriander? A mini explosion had rocked my kitchen. It so happened that I was preparing chutney with a generous sprinkling of green chilies in a mixer grinder. As I was about to close the lid after one round of mixing, my four year old obsessed with pushing buttons, sauntered in the kitchen. He playfully pressed the grinder button resulting in the splattering of green chutney all over the kitchen. And all over my face. Those manic moments with hot chutney in my eyes and mayhem in my kitchen are as fresh as the bunch of coriander my grocer delivered today! So clearly, when you think of certain smells, memories come alive, jumping out of nowhere.

Smiley to Smelly - Sport, Sweat and Scent
His Room, 2005


If your teenager loves to play soccer under scorching sun, can you stay away from sweat and smell? I remember picking up moist socks, wet tees followed by endless arguments about taking a shower. "It is for your own good, Take a bath right away, Don't lie on the couch, you are sweating, Your shoes smell." But, when your son announces that he scored a winner during a penalty shoot-out, you can’t trample his enthusiasm with heavy boots of smell, can you? How I wish Ambi Pur comes up with a device that can be installed in soccer studs and other sport shoes. Later when he left for college, little did I imagine that I will yearn for that same whiff of cologne tinged with the sporty smell of sweat!

Back to Smiley

If you are a mother, you can smell mischief. The deodorant in the cupboard reminds me of his college days. Though I always wanted to ask who he was meeting, I consciously refrained from intruding his privacy. When his dress was casual and hair ruffled, I imagined he was meeting his school friends. But when he used a cologne or a perfume and asked me if his shirt was just right, I could smell girls around.As always, the bounce of his gait, the tenor of his voice and the smell of his cologne tell me more than his words do.

Time flies. Today it is the sweet smell of his success that makes me smiley.

As I write, I realize that scents can be more evocative than pictures. Try it. Close your eyes and concentrate on a smell. Time will soon begin to roll backwards. No wonder fragrance and flashbacks go hand in hand. Or is it my remembrance that has implanted a whiff of scent to my nostalgia. Scentolgia, anyone?


Photo Credit: smashinghub.com
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69 comments:

  1. Ma'am, This one was a heartfelt one straight from the mother's scentolgia diary...

    manjulikapramod.com

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  2. Ah! Loved the idea of smelling mischief... makes the post reach a surreal level.

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

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  3. This post stands out in the crowd - by the sheer power of this mother's love, wrapped in nostalgic reminiscing, and shining through just like the "shaft of warm sunlight falls on the newborn". The room reminded me of my own, which I shared with my kid brother, without knowing but guessing, just like you, why the deodorant has been used/over-used! ;) Beautiful post.

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  4. It is such a beautiful post :)
    So perfect :)
    It just burst all my bubbles of winning the contest ;)

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    1. I felt the same after reading posts by Rachna, Vinita, Dr Roshan and Arvind. But the topic was so interesting that I had to participate in this one!
      :)

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    3. read a few and liked it.. but I loved your post :) :) its just perfect.. :)

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    4. That's very kind of you. Thanks, makes my day.

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  5. Lovely post Alka...yeah smells and fragrances do take you back in time. I have a similar set of memories attached to different smells.

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  6. fragrances have their own way of bringing back memories..
    love the logic behind this ccentolgia :)

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  7. Scents of a mother's love are priceless! Loved reading through each one and comparing notes :). Beautiful trip down memory lane every mom can relate to.

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  8. Ahha! what a beautiful post - the scent of motherhood. And who can resist the seductive smells of nostalgia!

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  9. This is such a beautiful post. Opening lines are so beautifully written that I read it many times before reading further. And yes, mothers can always smell mischief.

    Good luck, Alka. :)

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  10. Ah! That was a post exquisitely scented with maternal love.

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  11. Someone has rightly said, nothing could be as beautiful as motherhood, and you very much prove it here.

    A beautiful read, I wish you the best of luck :)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  12. This was such a beautiful post...Down the memory lanes of motherhood!

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  13. truly a nostalgic post. Even if am not mother i love that baby oil and powder smells . The babies look like cute cup cakes out of oven :)
    Loved readign this

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  14. One of the beautiful posts I read for the contest. I can see babyhood into boyhood into manhood through yoru post.Now, I am repenting, why was I so lazy not to write? Good luck for the contest, Alka. This time I am really curious to know who the winner is :)

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    1. I wrote after I accidentally came to know that the last day was extended. Managed it just in the nick of time. Frankly, personal posts are winners irrespective of the results.

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  15. Such a sweet post Alka :-)
    I too remember to smell of baby from after my brother's birth. He is 6 years younger than I am and i can remember all the J&J soap, oil, powder, cerelac, I used to ask my mother to make me some as well :-D
    The smell of soaps, fruits, flowers are unforgettable and they bring back such wonderful memories..
    The rest you have written it for me :-)
    Felt so good after reading this post..

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    1. Glad you could identify with this Bhavana. Thanks.

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  16. Alka it is such a sweet post. I also thought of writing something on the same line but I got so overwhelmed by emotions that I couldn't fit them in words. I am glad you wrote this and really what a beautiful post!!!

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  17. The smell of milk powder to cologne..l very well narrated.
    I am stil smellin smell toys and towels :)

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  18. Hello Ma'am, my mom would have written the same. Touched & mesmerized.


    Happy Blogging!
    Weakest LINK

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    1. That is such a sweet thing to say Rachit.
      Best always.

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  19. Very sweet and powerful post Alka Ji. Even though all the moms would take away the credit of the mesmeric smell, but at present even I'm also enjoying the magical smell for our little angel :)

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    1. Glad you can identify with this one. It's bliss, isn't it?

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  20. The smell of mischief.. really good! All the best, Alka.

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    1. Thanks Diwakar, this was more for my happiness than any contest.
      :)

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  21. A blissful post with all the fragrance of motherly affection. It was more like a poetry wrapped in prose with smell of Johnson baby powder and manly Eau De Cologne, Alka:) Best of luck for the contest !

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  22. Those baby smells do trigger off powerful memories and I enjoyed the way the soft cooing changed to your spewing (one or two) ultimatums during his teenaged years.

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  23. And I smell a new mobile here. :P
    I am in the first phase now and can totally relate to the post. There is something amazing about how babies smell.

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    1. Ha ha. The moment son called me after reading this post, I won the contest.
      I knew you would identify with this one. In fact I was about to inbox this for you and Geet.

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  24. My wife talks about the smell, our babies. How it comes to her in the middle of her work. I love our sons but guess I will never be able to love them like their mother does.
    Nice post.

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    1. Oh, you do. It's just that moms are good at expressing.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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  25. I suspect that this post is among the best of your best (and that collection is already venerable) that I have read so far. It sure smells like one!
    There is nothing more brilliant than an emotive essay that is written from the heart. I won't be surprised if you told me that your eyes moistened a few times as you were typing this.
    Kudos on the first prize. I don't care what the judges decide. This is the winner as far as I am concerned. Beautiful, beautiful post!

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    1. Coming from you, I have my prize.
      I started with the contest in mind but after a few lines it was beyond any prize or any contest.
      Thank you for such lovely words.

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  26. Beautiful post Alka I loved it

    Regards
    Rathina

    http://rathinas.blogspot.com/

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  27. Alka - the love, the memories and the affection you have for your son is so palpable in this post. You really captured the smelly to smiley bit. I'm smelling a winner here. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the tweet. And thanks for reading Corinne.

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  28. That's one cute cute post. I so loved to read through the various phases of your life. Thanks :)

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  29. Just beautiful and so poetic. As a mother I can relate to this so well. I am sure as my daughter grows I will also create memories like this. Best of luck!

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    1. Glad you liked this Swapna. Thanks for stopping by.

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  30. Visiting your past and taking the reader with you...I wish to experience motherhood!
    Hey! All the best on the contest..sweet one:)

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  31. My son is 4 and a half now and I can totally relate to the emotions that served as a basis for this post! :)

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  32. Hi Alka,
    Good reminiscence here.
    OMG, though I am a man
    I could very well smell it
    Those pleasant times LOL
    Well presented.
    I have a small suggestion,
    Why don’t you place those
    Lovely pics either side of the
    Text instead of it in the centre
    I think that gives a good look too
    LOL
    Keep writing Keep Inform
    Best
    Phil

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    1. Nothing can be more rewarding than the fact that you could smell my feelings here. Thank you.
      Thanks for the suggestion. I did try to rearrange the pics but a glitch in blogger was creating problems. After the deadline of the contest, I did not edit the post. I feel it is wrong to tinker with contest posts. Once the results are announced I will try to make the necessary changes. Your comment means a lot. :)

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