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Olfactory associations

Certain fragrances take us down memory lane. My grandmother had the habit of placing empty agarbathi covers inside her wooden box where she used to keep her clothes and other belongings. Her dresses always smelled of agarbathis. Even now, when I light the agarbathi in the evening during my prayer time, I remember my dear grandmother. I recall the cosy sleep close to my grandmother smelling her perfumed outfit. My grandparents took care of me when my parents were away for their jobs. We lived in our ancestral home located in a village amid paddy fields.

The sight of paddy fields brings to me the fragrance of dried straw. We children used to play hide and seek in the heaped-up dried straw and on the raw straw scattered on the yard for drying. The paddy harvest period was long-awaited by us children. At noon, the labourers were given rice gruel for lunch. They ate it using spoons made of jackfruit leaves. The aroma of eating the hot gruel with these spoons was mouth-watering.

Even now, Onam brings the smell of homemade upperi and sharkkara varatti. My grandfather took charge of preparing these snacks, along with achappam, murukku, kuzhalappam and kaliyadakka in fresh coconut oil. These were later kept in airtight containers and munched by us children all through the year. The junk food and the bakery items were exotic to us then.

The temple festivals had the fragrance of balloons and glass bangles. In the evening, we went to the temple, took part in in the puja and grandmother bought balloons, glass bangles, necklaces, multicoloured liquid bindi and nail polish for which I would eagerly wait.

At night, she fried either sardine or mackerel for dinner. She took me out to the yard and gave me food showing the moon and stars in the clear sky. The cold thin air filled with the aroma of fried fish.

These memories bring a smile to my face and will be cherished throughout my life as will be the fragrance of my grandparents’ affection.

rajijk1980@yahoo.co.in


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 7:13:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/olfactory-associations/article37719172.ece

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