Nothing brings to life again,
A forgotten memory,
- Christopher Pointdexter
Something happened recently.
One evening, I was helping my mom cook dinner and while she was busy with something else, she asked me to check on the curry. So I went over to the stove and lifted the lid of the pot to check. When I looked into it, I could smell the strong, delicious scent of all the spices of the curry. And as I was basking into the thought of how many helpings I was going to have, suddenly I saw a few glimpses of my childhood pass before my eyes. Right out of nowhere.
I blinked a couple of times at what happened and took a while to register what my mind had remembered.
I remembered sitting on a big round table on a Sunday with my grandparents and immediate family around me. Everyone had a fixed seat. Everyone also has a favorite dish on the table that they thoroughly relish. Alongside those dishes, there was a type of curry my mom would make that would coincidentally only be made on Sundays. So my Sunday mornings consisted of that scent, and when my mom made it, I automatically associated it with a holiday.
I smiled to myself at the interesting thought of how certain smells evoke such a strong memory that may or may not have anything to do with the present. But it somehow manages to take you back to a place and time which have been long forgotten.
So using this, I decided to delve into 5 scents that evoke a certain story or a memory from my past as a fun task to see what kinds of memories I can remember:
1. The scent of paste
And not your fancy Elmer’s glue. I am taking about non-toxic, non-drippy, thick paste that came in little plastic tubes, which you had to squeeze from the bottom like toothpaste to spread it over paper.
It was messy as heck, but it had this distinct plastic, overtly sweet smell that reminded me of this wonderful art room we had in my school when I was five. Every Wednesday, 2-3 hours were devoted to arts and crafts. And almost every week, there were different things to make and do. The room had different areas to draw, colour, cut and paste things on different projects. It also has a nap and reading corner!
Needless to say, it was a blissfully messy, but a creativity satisfying memory.
2. The scent of new stationary
Oh man. Getting a new yellow box of Crayola crayons was next to perfection when I was a kid. New stationary was the epitome of the perfect back to school present. I actually looked forward to school because of it. (Stationary addicts, can I get a heeeey!)
New stationary smelled like… new plastic actually. But I associated it with empty, crisp notebooks just waiting to be filled with sharp scents of ink. And that smell of those OG Crayola boxes? That was just something else.
The smell of new stationary to me meant the start of something new. Something fun, something adventurous. May it be school, college or even work.
Till date I still think the smell of new stationary means a new chapter of your life just waiting to be written.
3. The scent of rain
Now I know this is a little tricky, but the scent of rain (like most) holds a very, very important place in my heart. Especially when it’s the smell of rain mixed with this earthy scent that reminds you of the rainforest.
There was a balcony in my previous home that had this big, fat tree right before it. It also has a ledge where you could safely sit down, stretch your legs outwards, and the roof above it angled so perfectly to an extent where the rain would only touch your feet and shelter the rest of your body.
I used to find that moment so calming and somehow so inspiring, that whenever it would rain and if I were home, that’s where I would sit.
I would either drink some tea, or do some writing, or just pensively sit down to enjoy the weather. Many good stories have been written from those blissful moments and so now, whenever I get the scent of the rainforest-y kind of rain, I go back to that moment and somehow manage to use that opportunity to get inspired.
And hopefully write something.
4. The scent of the beach
Every. Single. Time. I smell the ocean, I get swept away with this strong memory of big family holidays to the beaches close to the city. All of my immediate family members would pack into this big dull gold color van, with my dad on the wheel, and 13 of us would go to a beach resort for a day. All my immediate aunt, uncles, cousins and grandparents would be there, there would always be a feast of things to eat and drink (looots of soft drinks in big water coolers) and it would be a glorious day of swimming, sand and sun burns.
But the best was not over yet. On the way home, my dad would play this really soothing song, all of us would be happily tired and sleeping, and we would either get some McD’s hot chocolate from the drive thrus or sweet corn on the cob from the road side as a snack for the ride back home.
These sun-kissed memories were some of my favorite memories growing up. I still smile when I think about it. :)
5. And then you have many more!
Your mother’s perfume. Your first makeup kit. Grandmother’s cooking. Freshly laundered sheets. Crips autumn leaves. Movie theatre popcorn. Morning cup of tea. Childhood hairdresser. Local bakery. First summer rain. Father’s aftershave lotion. Wet puppy noses. Airplane rides. Childhood home’s old musky smell. Childhood dentists, pediatricians’ office. Smell of your grandfather’s coat. Your parent’s bed. Old paper notes. Your baby clothes. You favorite stuff toy. Your favorite book.
And I can go on and on.
Do you have a particular scent that incites a powerful memory? If so, what is it?
May each memory be a happy one,