This little pellet of light comes back to me on unpredictable days. Days when I could be riding passed a crowded old street, pickled with tiny houses stuffed with a lot of people. This little pellet of light, comes back to me on those moments when the Universe is in the mood to finagle me out of my happy place, or maybe help me find a happier place. This tiny pocket of my memory that seems to float always, behind me, never accessible easily, but always there.
It starts with the smell of burning wood. Spurting out a woody scent from one of those cramped houses with their open doors on wet streets. There’s goats walking around, goat-walking on walls, leaping across the little street that’s beaded with honks, and yells and bathed in an unshy coating of pollution. But through all that noise, the goats walking walls, the children crying the women yelling and men walking around like gaffers, all it takes is one whiff. And there, the chaos slows down around me, the goats almost freeze in a mid air leap, the men caught lighting a perpetual cigarette, this little boy in a frozen cry while his yelling aunt or sister or mother frozen too like him, with a raised hand. The honks begin to melt and ballet themselves into a symphony around me. There’s so much beauty in this moment. This moment I have come to love. This moment when the Universe blows a whisper of a scent in my direction. I know this moment wont last more than a few seconds so I take off the helmet that’s limiting me and I feel my soul stretch out to catch that scent, for the more I take it in, the longer I get to travel back to my place of pain. The longing is so strong that I have found pleasure in it. My scooter’s moving, everything is moving- but my eyes are glazed. So mesmerized by this cloud of slow that’s wrapped my reality. And through the gaps in this dragging time, that smell, the wood and its smoke dodge faces, windows, closing doors just to make it in time to me.
Whiff. And Gone.
This brief trickle of a scent is like a portkey. I’m now on a cruise to somewhere else. Voyaging through another smell. Another time. A time that brings me a flood of tears that indemnify me every time I swallow the screaming in. This memory is dry leaves cushioning the rain. This memory is the smell of earth, and rust and time. It takes me back to a wooden house where old feet still walk. There are chickens prancing across their kingdom, and dogs playing, unchained, unbound and aware of where their territory ends. This memory is food cooked three times a day, lunch calls across the field, cookers whistling, and plates battling in their shelves in the kitchen. This memory is whitest of white hair, long and tied in a beautiful bun. It’s timely prayers, and old alarms going off at 4 in the morning. This memory is blankets and a big brown cane belonging to an man too proud to use it. This memory is family pictures walled across the corridor, snuggling over a butter soft tummy, kissing the marshmallow face of the lady with the whitest of white hair.
This memory is the sound of my name being called out with more love than I have ever felt. It is a memory of oldness. Of loud television and dentures that get sink in the night.
This memory is lost time. And lost places. Of late night bus rides and early morning pick ups. This memory has so much in it, that’s a bit too much to take. But I know there’s a happy place in there somewhere. So perhaps not today. But maybe I could steal a whiff sometime soon?
When I’m a little stronger, and you’re a little further away.