I was dressing up for office, when something in my cupboard reminded me of times in my college dorm room. I picked the kira, dug in my face and took a deep breath. It was a sweet yet tangy smell.
I was back in the dorm room, amid posters of models, actors and bands, and REM's Imitation of Life was playing on a box-like stereo, borrowed from a senior.
It was a flash. The short but powerful time in my life, of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly. I held the kira for few seconds longer. My heart radiating into a perfect smile on my lips. The good friends, the tiny town, the village folks, the evenings at their impoverished homes, sitting near the crackling fire and chewing on corn on the cob. Then there was this foggy narrow road leading to college where I'd meet my classmates and the crushes. All were all contained within that one whiff of fragrance.
I stood a second longer, unable to tear from the memory and sniffed for more. But I was running late for office. The day turned out to be perfect. It was raining but nothing could shroud the glow and the contentment I felt inside. I was living a life which made so much sense. The traffic did not matter, the song on the radio was melodious and I was singing along. I had the key to happiness.
Another time, it was spring and healthy green bushes in the office garden along the path to canteen were bursting with flowers. Another whiff of memory. I couldn't resist it, so I bent down and took a deep breath and lingered for a second longer. The tea, for which I was visiting canteen, was forgotten.
I was back in the remote village of Sibsoo in Samtse and I'd just started school. We'd put on dangling pink earrings made from the flowers. In school we'd sneak in green hot chillies and hoard it, along with salt, under the wooden desks. In the midday sleep-inducing sun, when the teacher was busy up in front, we'd simply sweat at the back, eyes wide open and attentive to salt melting inside the tiny but super hot jitsi ema. And to think we were only five or six years old.
The memories offered no names or faces but only forms. Yet the fragrance unlocked memories of green chilies, the scorching sun, the blackboard illustration of fox and crow and dusty wooden floors on which we sat.
And today as I get a whiff of rain drenched earth from my office window, I simply wonder what I'd be reminded of later in life when I smell the rain and earth again. Perhaps this story I am sharing. Perhaps the children's book with earthy tones that I am reviewing, or the leaves of the ivy vines dangling from the window grill. Or perhaps it will remind me of my editor playing When the Children Cry on guitar or my son trying to catch raindrops with his little paws.
I have no idea. The fragrances seem to box in and lock bits and pieces of life on its own will. But I am sure if I ever remember these bits and pieces they will turn into a particular scent, which I can call my own and no one can ever smell it. It is my happiness.