Have you ever been walking to a destination and you suddenly smell home? It just floats right by you and then it’s gone. And you inhale deeply, willing the scent to come back and flood your nostrils one more time with a memory once lived. The scent is unique to your senses and the environment you lived in. For me, I sometimes catch my father’s cologne, the stale kind that has settled into the fabric of his shirt after a full work day of sweating. Other times it is the smokey remnants of suya rubbed with peanut spice and mixed with chopped onions and their purple hue. Sometimes it is the stench of decay, a reminder of the piles upon piles of rubbish strangely colorful on the side of my streets. But I inhale it all. I stand in one place and I try to suck it all in, wishing with all my might that I can be carried back home to its origin.
Our senses work in wonderful ways. We are literally able to sniff a shirt and determine immediately if it belongs to our brother, sister, lover, etc or a stranger. Our senses trigger memories. For me it is a kick, a jolt right at the back of my head and for a fleet second, I am transported into the past. Me sitting next to my dog, flies swarming over his head and I can’t remember the last time I bathed him. But his smell is bearable. I am used to it so I allow him to rest his head on my lap and stare at the open wound on his ear which never healed in the 14 years or so we had him. Then I am transported again. This time I am watching our neighbor’s goat burn. It must be someone’s birthday or perhaps part of another wedding ceremony. The goat’s body has been hoisted on a stick through the neck which not too long ago had been the killing point; weak bleats had been given out and there had been very little struggle. There is a car tire burning beneath its body, aimed to get rid of all the hair. The creature will later be bald and cut open and I will watch with mild fascination as the greyish innards are picked through. Today, I still do not eat goat meat because I can never get rid of the smell of singed hair. Other transports are clearer where it is after church service and I have just cleaned the house. The best part of my home was that you could literally see the rays of sun flood in. Everything smells so...simple. My father would give my two pats on my back and a peck on the cheek which I could wipe away in that manner that children do, but only after he had left the room.
But I am now back in the present. and all I can do is wonder when the last time my father got the windows cleaned in the six years I’ve been gone and if he sees the sun rays the same way we used to.