Remembering maa


There happened to be certain scent.

These days I search it in fading photographs, in her forgotten wardrobe unfolding along creases- silks and chiffons- in pages of yellowed books, family gossips and loneliness.

Mom had her own scent, something as distinctly her, perhaps a mix of individuality, or thoughts or emotions. I never asked. After she was gone, I could smell it on myself. Teddy was discarded, I fell asleep curled fetal, relishing her existence off my own skin. It tricked my 5 year old brain into believing she was close, believing that I could hear her heart beating right into my ear. The ache was forgotten for a while, and in the milky warmth that emanates from security I would fall asleep.

17 years later, life is exactly same. But time has deftly unsewed her sweetness from my skin.

Every morning I wake up, sniff in reels of purplish incense smoke and try remembering if she smelt similar. When the first droplets of monsoon kiss the earth, I ask again, and again. But petrichor is different. And so is the sting of freshly mowed grass. And old love letters. And moonlight, or the scent of a concoction of stars and salt waves of phosphor seas. Or the piercing nirvana of eucalyptus oil. Or what hits you when you crush kaffir leaves. Or the pale blue mist floating upwards from the bosom of the Ganges. They are different, I tell myself.


It lives in the lining of Nostalgia, inert ether-like but always so peculiarly alive, so palpable.

Sometimes she feels unreal. I roam through dusty bylanes of my brain, trying to pick up her tender scent, bottle and label it “maa”. I fail. Always. It is as if it has suddenly volatised, and fused seamlessly with the atmosphere. Perhaps if I can ever distill love, I will find it again- that scent lingering on mom’s skin. Perhaps I will be able to remove the cobwebs and relive her presence once again, feel my heart filling up with the peace that regaining every loved-and-lost fills you up with.

Published for the AmbiPur Smelly to Smiley Contest on Indiblogger.
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