Stay a moment longer. Breathe in deeper. Harder. Feel the tiny bursts of air as they force their way in. Let the molecules tingle your olfactory senses, setting off that wonderful chain reaction of memories, deep in the forgotten recesses of your mind. The place where every single forgotten memory goes to rest. Until that one day when you smell something, and it all comes rushing back.
Stay a moment longer. Let it linger, tease you. Stay. And be teased, as you breathe in short, fast gusts of perfectly-scented air and your brain rummages through the giant repository of memories you didn’t realise you have accumulated over time. Your brain, is now a vat of images, frames, a hoard of things to remember. All neatly catalogued by smell, of course. All the better to locate and retrieve them with.
Stay. And as you crunch up your eyes, trying to put a finger on it, you might feel your ears go hot. The hair on the nape of your neck stands up. You shiver. And flashes of instances return to the hot pools that are your eyes. Your heart beats a little faster, all the while jogging that distant memory back to the front again. So you can reach out, grab the teasing, tantalising image. Touch it, feel its familiarity twirl itself around your fingers. Maybe you’ll let it clasp your hand and walk down memory lane again. Or you might send it flying away, as quick as you were to grab it. Either way it will remind you once again, just how you felt so long ago.
Stay a moment longer. And soak in it.
That zesty, unnaturally citrus-y spray that hit you as soon as your teeth gripped the edge of the ice candy. Your brain froze, but your nose had captured it. And it continued to, with every little suckle on the edge of the crusty piece of orange flavoured ice, that sent chilled freshness shooting through your face, fighting away that hot summers day.
That sweet-sour milky hotness that was the nape of your sister’s neck. There, beneath the many wrinkles of her multiple necks, is where you once dived, nose-first. Because there, hidden within the damp mustiness that comes from being a baby and lying around all day, is where you could nuzzle her for a whiff of sweet-sour sibling love.
The hot flash of embarrassment that attacked you, when you were in the sandpit squishing piles of gravel around, and suddenly you smelt the pungent, sharp smell of cat poo. Its distinctly catty smell took over and you wished the earth would swallow you up quickly, before the other kids saw what you had done.
That mildly rosy aroma that puffed up in invisible clouds, the moment your grandma opened her compact, at 4 pm every evening, as she gingerly dabbed it on her face in little, perfect rounds. That sweet smell that immediately brought a warm fuzzy feeling, as you watched from a distance, wondering when you would be old enough to have a little brown box of your own.
That warm smell of baked, earth, as the first drops of rain dart at it. Splashes of fresh rain that made you want to take longer, deeper breaths, store that unrefined, raw smell in your mind. The meeting of wet and parched. The union of hot and cold. That, which is only signaled by the distinct aroma of wet earth.
That acrid, nasty smell that smacks you in whiffs, every time you pass the three-day old vase full of gorgeous flowers. The one your father painstakingly put together. And then everybody promptly forgot about, letting the water in it fester, bubble up into a noxious green, sending steamy stale vapours of neglect your way. Strong reminders of the smell you wanted to ignore, because the flowers were still so pretty you didn’t want to upset their placement.
That cosy smell of slowly ripening mangoes, nestled in piles of hay. The summery freshness of sweet mangoes, a touch of spicy green-ness that told you that there was time yet. And when that first slice found it way into your mouth, the overpowering flavour hit you aroma-first, and you washed it down quickly with a swig of silky smooth milk.
The muggy feeling of a school uniform ironed in a rush, just so you would make it to the bus in time. And you left home, in a hot cloud of mustiness, acutely aware that you were carrying with you the smell of half-dried clothes, about to get worse as the feathery drizzle comes down on you.
The leftover Issey Miyake, that clung to your body after a long, luxurious hug. It made you sniff yourself over and over, to find the spot where it was the strongest. Until you realised you couldn’t. It was all over. On your body, in your head and inside your mind.
The crisp saltiness of sea-sprayed, sun and wind dried hair. No beach holiday was complete without it. As your skin browned, your hair singed, sending waves of beachy happiness, that you gulped up by the mouthful.
The little green bottle that caused so much intrigue. Not just by its size, but its bold green-ness, that you could smell, even before your mother opened it and released twirls of overpowering aroma. Cool vapours of khus filled the house every time she dabbed a tiny dot. One behind each ear, and a tiny one on her neck.
Go freely, where your nose will take you. And stay a while longer. A tantalising few moments, another whiff more. Until it all comes rushing back. Strung on a thread of aroma, dangling at the end of it, a bunch of memories all wrapped up in the fragrance of nostalgia.