Aromas That Make Me Travel to Nostalgic Memories

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Checking through those hung clothes in the clothing store of the mall, I was in high confusion and difficulty to find the best one. This dilemma always happens to me when I am on the mission to purchase something for myself.

Suddenly, the search for the best garment paused when that smell hit my nose. The scent was of perfume that came from the lady who had just passed close by. I was triggered by the perfume that she had worn.

This is the same aroma that used to come out from my mom. This is the same aroma that my mother used to wear when she was young and energetic. This aroma took me back to my childhood days where I found myself sitting on her lap and bothering her to purchase that particular doll with red hair. This aroma educated my memories of those years when she was busy cooking and cleaning for us.

Encumbered with total energy and jolly mood all the time, she was there to help all. This aroma took me to the era when those beautiful eyes observed my every step and moment. So bright those eyes used to be and so nicely decorated with black kajal. Now the time has taken away the charm and vision from those beautiful eyes. It has set wrinkles on her face and sucked all the energy from the body. This forgotten aroma of long before is strong enough to bring tears in my eyes when it suddenly travelled to my nose.

This is not the first time that happened to me. I have been the victim of this Proustian moment so many times. Smells have always acted as an active agent to bring back my memories. Memories activated by aroma have travelled me to both emotional and very happy situations of the past.

Once there was the smell of bidi strong enough to transport me to my grandmother, who is no more with us today. Bidi is a hand-rolled cigarette made of tobacco and wrapped in tendu leaf.

Once it happened that I had to take shelter in a village tea shop when suddenly heavy rain started.

I was on my way for the village tour but had to stop on the way. At one corner of the shop was a skinny old man sitting on the floor and waiting for the rain to go away. As soon as the rain would stop, he was there run to the rice field nearby.

Sipping tea, I was watching the skinny man who was holding bidi with both of his hands. When he inhaled the smoke into his mouth, his wrinkled cheek converted into a small pond. The puffed-off smoke travelling everywhere it came to my nose as well. This is the same smell that used to come out from the bidi that my grandmother used to smoke.

My memories travelled me to the time when our grandmother visited us. How curious and excited we were when she was telling stories. All those stories that she narrated were mixed with the smell of this bidi smoke. It recalled my memories when her every visit from the village filled our house with joy.

Those mangoes and mango pickles, homemade potato chips, Khajuri (homemade biscuits) and so many other things then started revolving around my eyes. This smell of smoke evoked my memories, transporting me back to the time and place that I had left long before.

I have always searched for that particular type of perfumed pencil that we used during our childhood. We used it for some years and then suddenly stopped using it. Maybe they were no more available in the market. If I get to feel again, that aroma will surely enhance my memory of wonderful childhood days.

I want to feel that moment once again when I have that schoolbag on my back and that bag filled with books, writing journals, pencils, erasers, crayons, lunchbox and water bottle. My tidy uniform and those shining shoes! I want to wear them again by travelling through aroma.

That particular perfumed pencil will be enough to put me back into my schooling days. I haven’t yet been able to find them.

There is very high use of marigold flowers during Deepawali in Nepalese society. We Hindu people make garlands of marigold flowers and hang them around or on top of our front door. Deepawali is the festival of lights, sweets and flowers. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped, offering the garland of this flower and sweets. There is the aroma of marigold in the air during this festival.

The aroma of marigold is highly associated with celebration and enjoyment, happiness and togetherness, lights and sweets. October and November is the month of this flower and festival. This aroma of marigold is strong enough to bring me back to the Deepawali feeling even though I get to smell them during April or May. I can get the feel of my favorite festival, Deepawali, any time throughout the year if the aroma of marigold gets into my nose.

I want to save something for my future and it will be in the bottle. I want to hide that bottle of perfume that I have used during my youth. I want to hide them inside my wardrobe. I want to smell them after many years when I will be in my old age. If I hadn’t lost my sense of smell at that time, I would indeed be travelling to my youth days. The aroma of this bottle of perfume will surely bring back all those memories of my youthful days. Maybe there will be some kind of vibrations in my geriatric blood with this aroma.

Maybe my eyes will be filled with the tear of happiness and tear of sadness for those past moments of youthful days.

There are explanations for every kind of human feeling in science and psychology. But to my simple understanding, there is a connection between aroma and memory. The sort of satisfaction or pleasure that I get with this Proustian moment is incomparable. It sometimes brings tears to my eyes and sometimes stimulates me to travel to the joyful moments I left long before.

Though many say it is not better to live in the past and think about it, I am sometimes helpless when an aroma hits my nose, stimulating my memories. I enjoy travelling to my past with specific aromas.

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Samir Singh
Samir Singh
2 years ago

Congratulations. Very nice article

Krishna Singh
Krishna Singh
2 years ago

Nicely written
Keep it up