If anyone had been watching The stars are brighter tonight They sway in sparkly hammocks To tunes of whispered cries Wish upon a star, they said For dreams can be fulfilled By twinkly drops of cosmic light; I, too, looked up at the brilliance To catch a truant starling in flight My pleas fizzled in its fiery demise; I turned away, sad, despondent But I found it in my pocket.
They say sights make lasting memories and a touch imprints forever. However, it was the smells that lie splattered across her memory-scape. This story traces an olfactory journey of a lifetime as she put pieces together, wondering what lies next.
1980 – It is the smell of soap – an expensive luxury bar of white soap. The silhouette of a man with that soapy fragrance is still vivid. She was barely 3-years old. She can recognize that smell anywhere but does not come across it often. She cannot remember who he was, yet the distinct memory captures her.
She frets that she needs to dig deeper into the recesses and find out why the fragrance of that soap and the man are so alive in her mind even after 40 years. There are no answers; she does not even know whether that time was good or bad; whether that memory points to any event in her life. The lack of an answer makes her uncomfortable as they remind her of an unknown man and his soapy odor from when she was barely a toddler.
It was a sultry afternoon. The day stretched endlessly, waiting for twilight. The orange popsicles stained his tongue but didn’t quench his thirst. He wasn’t sleepy for lack of physical activity. He read books, heard songs on his laptop, played mobile games but time stood still, fatigued by the heat of the Indian summer.
Bored, he picked up his drawing kit and started sketching a treasure map to reach the fabled pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He drew ardently, painstakingly filling vibrant colours in the verdant landscape, flora, and fauna. The emerging terrain captivated him. He paid attention to every tiny detail. The sound of wax crayons against white paper, echoed the unstoppable rhythm in his delicate fingers.
Beyond the tanned mountains, arched the seven colors of mystic beauty. At the corner of the sheet, a speck glimmered. He added final touches to the elusive gold and rested the point of his crayon, in a finishing move, just as the first star of the night rose in the burnished horizon. In the twinkle of its light, with sweat beads on his brow, he sailed through the azure skies, having fallen from the edge of the map.