Saturday, August 24, 2013

Scent Of Motherland

“Home?”

“Yes, home.”

The smile was evident on my face as I looked out of the window, the bright Manhattan skyline gaping proudly at me, as if to make its presence felt amidst the vast Indian population that have been residing here since years.

I turned around. Adam was looking at me with surprise clearly reflected in his eyes, his blond hair shining brightly against the rays that peeped in through the window.

“You never talked of home before,” he said, curious to know my unexpected desire to return back to India.

I just smiled, again. There wasn’t any explanation for my sudden change of behaviour. The States have always lured me, and I, like a bee in search of honey, had flown here as soon as opportunity hugged me in its golden embrace. What followed next was a dream. Money, and luxuries arrived, and the pride in my heart soared high whenever I saw my Facebook profile stating my current location as Manhattan.

“Are you sure you want to do it?”

I nodded at Adam. I was pretty sure about the decision I had made. What seemed totally abrupt to Adam was, well, in reality, a well-planned idea that I had always nurtured in me. I wanted to return soon after completing my higher education, and I was exactly doing that.

As the sun crept behind the horizon, I retired to my bed room. The window was open; I had never closed it in the last three years that I have been staying here. I stood behind the window sill, breathing in the voices of people who were busy with their evening activities.

The clock struck 8, and the smell of familiarity calmly entered my nostrils. The Indian restaurant across the road had started preparing their dinner. Oh, how I loved this smell, which took me back to memories of my motherland; me, standing at the kitchen door, as my mother cooked delicious rotis and splendid chicken curry for dinner. I used to stand there for long, sometimes sneaking in when I thought she wasn’t looking. A bite of the warm cooked chicken grazed my tongue, and the blissful essence seeped into my soul. I always thought my mother didn’t know; but she knew, all along.

I decided to walk across the street and have my dinner at the restaurant today. I told my cook not to make anything for me.

I unlocked the wardrobe and took out a t-shirt and jeans. I smelt them, like I always used to do. It brought back memories of home, where every row of our cupboard smelt of naphthalene. As a child, I was always enamoured by these whitish balls. I loved playing with them, until one day when my mom scolded, “Leave them aside. They are poisonous.”

I stopped playing with naphthalene balls. I didn’t want to die so soon; but the smell lingered.

I unpacked the new shoe that I had bought from the nearby market. It was tough on the exterior but felt like cotton when I wore it. I love these new brands of shoes. Out of sheer habit, I picked up my left shoe, and before wearing, I smelt it. I know you might find it odd, but do try smelling a new shoe. It’s addictive, and different. Leather smells good when fresh, and even better when they have been polished, just like my school shoes. Often, I used to secretly smell the bottles of shoe polish while wiping my shoes during my school days. No, don’t count me as a drug addict though.

A man wearing a torn tweed jacket, and a jeans that seemed to have seen better years, was sweeping the streets. A few grains of dust entered my nostril and I sneezed loudly. Dust allergy, always my nemesis, since my childhood. I remembered how I used to cover my face with a handkerchief whenever our maid used to clean the rooms. I quickly darted across the road and entered the restaurant.

Tomorrow, I would be leaving for India, and it feels as if I had never left my land. I have stayed in US for the last few years, but I have always belonged to the place where I was born and brought up. After the sumptuous dinner, I got up from my seat and walked towards the waiter who d served me the meal.

“Are you from India?” I asked, but I knew the answer already.

He nodded. It’s never too difficult to recognise an Indian in a foreign land.

I hugged him, and walked out of the restaurant. Perhaps he was surprised by my gesture. I could never know, ‘cause I didn’t look back.

I slept well that night, the fragrance of my motherland lingering fresh in my mind. Even though I was miles away from my home, the smell of my land seemed to have always stayed rooted in my heart.




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