Migraine is a dreaded disease. I personally believe that I can bear any kind of pain apart from that of a headache. My migraine attacks feel like a boulder has been tied to the back of my head weighing me down by blessing me with yellow sparkly hallucinations. And I got my first migraine attack at the age of seven. On getting tested, the doctors told me that I have an awesome sense of smell and some of these smells act like a trigger for the attack. Damn, blessed with a sharp nose and a painful problem. God sure was smiling at me and Murphy, grinning. So most of my childhood was spent in smelling something faraway with accuracy (believe me, I once smelt my neighbor grating fresh carrot) and avoiding some smells that caused me an headache. So when Ambi Pur asked me to write a post about the nostalgia associated with smells, I knew I would have the longest post.
Smells of course come with cart loads of memories. I call it the universal Pandora's box, as you never know what you will smell next and why. The most common smell during my childhood was that of my dog. He smelt furry and mild, with all that dog powder my dad sprayed on him every morning. The minute he galloped his way into any room, the room was instantly filled with his fragrance. His towel, his bowl, his leash and his blanket all smelt the same. It was a stress buster for me. After school I would go and hug him and sit as we both enjoyed our respective biscuits and horlicks. His smell would make me forget all the tiredness of school and the stress of the homework that followed. Its been 12 years since he passed away, but his smell still remains. We have changed the house he and I grew up in, but his things still emit his fragrance. All you have to do is close your eyes and breathe in, you can then see him wagging his tail and jumping all over you. Nothing ever will come close to this memory and this smell.
The next more prominent smell that I remember is of freshly grated coconut. Being a mallu, this was an unavoidable smell. When my sister and I used to return from school by 4 pm, my mom would prepare this quick snack for us to eat. It was simple. It was flattened rice (poha) mixed with powdered jaggery and grated coconut drizzled with a little milk so that it all comes together. The smell of freshly grated coconut is awesome in itself but when combined with the ingredients mentioned above, it becomes magical. The smell would reach my nose just as I reached the corner of my street and I would come running home, to devour the poha. It was nutritious and filling. At times mom used to add a tiny bit of cardamom powder to it. And when she did, it was pure heaven.
I developed a reading habit before my teens. Before I was thirteen, I had finished all the Enid Blyton series and was on the Sidney Sheldon series. My school library did not allow us to borrow "those" kind of books during 8th grade. With the meager pocket money I got, it was difficult for me to buy them. Even the pirated versions. So when an old library was to be shut near my house, I gathered all my savings and walked into it. They were selling the old original copies of books for 20-30 bucks. I remember buying seven of them at one go. So, carrying a huge bag I walked into my room. As soon as I opened the first book, I was transported. To a land far far away. The smell of old books and the contrast of the yellow pages are divine. No new book delivered to your doorstep smells the same. Even today, I still pick up old used novels to read. Nothing to do with the expense, its all about the feel good smell that comes with it.
When they demolished the house next door and were rebuilding it I developed a new habit. To lick wet brick walls. I used to play on the streets till dusk and when the workers left after spraying water on the freshly erected walls, the earthy smell filled my nostrils and my friends and I used to run back there and scrape out little segments of brick from the walls and eat it. It gave us goose bumps to do that. If nothing was there to scrape out, we would be content in licking the bricks to get our high. Soon, the bricks got replaced by cement blocks and the smell slowly ceased to exist. Then came the sand mixing machine and a new addiction started. The smell of wet soil. Thankfully I was just content with the smell and did not try to ingest it.
Also, there are some smells that brought out the inner demon in me by causing me severe headaches. Even after being almost cured of migraine, I still can't stand these smells. Tomato ketchup, capsicum, fish food, the smell of sweet shops (yeah, I get a sugar rush just with the smell, that causes a headache), the smell of almost all flowers, hair oil, cooked cabbage etc etc. If I mention all of them, then it will become a series of posts.
A smile at times, else a headache
Such are the memories associated with smell
The brilliant memories that come with it
Somehow makes you feel 'All is well'
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