Featured Writer Loga Balasubramanian’s Scent of Summer
A typical Indian summer afternoon, I was resting on the swing after a long day of work - tasty aromatic biryani in the tummy, kitchen cleaned and all vessels washed and stacked. Silence everywhere. Nobody around except the quiet sultry sea breeze passing once in a while. I was lying down thinking about the journey in my life as I am reaching 40 in a few days.
Rewind to many years back, when I was in my 4th grade, we lived in a street next to the place where people rear ducks. Early mornings they used to take the ducks in groups to a nearby pond and the entire street would be full of quacking ducks and when I come out of my home, the smell of sandy road along with ducks have welcomed me most of the days…..The smell of the sand, the sound of ducks, the sound of vendors, the sound of pressure cookers, the smell of dung, the smell of flowers, the smell of agarbathis from a temple nearby is something that I always like to recall and talk about in detail.
I miss my carefree school days. Now am I carefree… Now can I enjoy small things around?
Somebody is knocking the door. I get up and there is a man at the door. He has come to deliver mangoes. The scent of sweet banganapalli and imam pasand mangoes now fills the living room. I sort them in the baskets, sniffing and smelling the sweet fragrance transporting myself to my summer holidays.
Summer holidays always used to be fun and enriching. My grandmother is a very hardworking and sincere lady. Whenever she does anything, her work used to be a class apart - be it simple chores like sweeping or cooking. The way she handles things was always a sight to see and hold. .Summer time used to be the time when my uncle picks cashew from the trees for the nuts. It used to be time to pluck mangoes and jackfruits from the farm. My uncle used to take us - one cousin each day to the farm to help. We pick the cashews along with the other people and fill the tubs.
The strong sweet smell of cashew apples fills the whole place. We need to twist the nuts and could or need not eat the apples. The smell of cashew apples, mangoes, jackfruits lingers for a long time. After a day of helping, we used to open our food boxes and eat the delicious lunch packed by my grandmother. I literally used to sniff the cut mango pickle along with the buttery curd rice and gulp everything. Then the people in the farm would switch on the pump motor and water would come gushing into the tank. The smell of water along with the mud would virtually transport us to a different place - enjoying the bath and singing songs.
In the evenings, back at home, my uncle used to sit in the backyard. My cousins and I surround him like children around a balloon seller .He would oil the sickle and have the big jackfruit before us. One cut on jackfruit and the entire backyard smelled like a sweet bubblegum - combination of many flavours. We used to wait until my uncle pulled out a pulp and removed the seed and gave it to us. The smell and taste is still fresh in my mind.
Now back in my swing- Still there is silence around. A few babblers on the gulmohar trees, babbling loud and I am swinging between my present and past memories.
Thinking of my honeymoon days soon after the wedding, I loved the smell of my husband. Not sure if it's the smell of different perfumes or something else, I always used to blush and smile when he was around me. The environment of a work-oriented young lady suddenly changed to a carefree different lifestyle in a different continent. The vibrant noisy home in India changed to a silent beautiful place in New Jersey with so many trees around. Many times, the place would look still and silent. A light gentle wind would touch you once in a while when you go for a walk. The silent, yet steady atmosphere taught me a lot of things as I grew older.
A sudden gust of wind brings me now back to reality. Suddenly the day becomes darker, strong winds, dark clouds slowly gathering together in the sky, I get up from my swing , walk towards the balcony to look at the sky- Suddenly the atmosphere has changed - Sultry summer afternoon has changed to a breezy rainy day. Summer showers would start anytime soon. The dry air has become enjoyable with a pleasant petrichor of quick showers and I rush to the terrace to get my dresses drying on the stand and the drying ‘vadaams’ smelling the scent of rain. Life is good after all!
About the writer :
Loga Balasubramanian is a stay-at- home mother who has taken a conscious sabbatical from work after working with children for 7 years. Before that she was part of the electronics world, working with car electronics for almost 10 years. She dreams of writing a coffee book of soups and salads one day. This piece was written as Loga’s final assignment for a six-week Creative Nonfiction writing workshop.