Scent of Memory

They said the report wasn’t good. She always felt heavy in her head and migraines were part of her life for a long time. She used to joke with me that she had Brain Tumor. She told them that. One of the doctors waved his hand and interjected,

“Your reports show that you have meningitis. And your blood seems to be positive for Hepatitis. We suspect there may be another disease that’s making your immune system weak. That may be the reason you are having these episodes. Not brain tumor.”

She looked at his face. He seemed contended after dismissing this childish brain tumor theory. She wondered if she had ever seen him around the hospital, because his face seemed so familiar. It was a bright room. Air and white light flooded in through curtains of the windows. There were so many windows on the left wall. Dust sparkled in the slanted light beams.  Air was warm. Unlike summer air which leaves a burning sensation on your skin it felt soothing like a mothers touch. It felt like it feels in dreams and in memories, she said to me.

She wore a sari when she came to meet me. We rented an auto for couple of hours. She couldn’t remember where we went though. She remembers watching green hills rising and falling and traveling on a sinuous road to the sea. I was the one who decided where to go. It amused her. She couldn’t remember me ever deciding on a place to go. It was always she who made the decisions at the end. I took her to the port. Ships floated in the calm water of the bay. She saw a ship lying on the sand in the distance.

“Was there a storm?” she asked me. I just smiled in reply.

We gazed at the upturned ship. Its rusted belly rested on the shore like a dead leviathan. She liked it here in the shore. She thought of telling me about the reports. She thought hard on how to phrase the words so that I wouldn’t think that she was afraid.

“So why didn’t you?”

“Because we left that place just then and you said there was some trouble in the road. You were talking to the driver. You two were discussing the best way to avoid trouble and reach city.”

“Sounds just like me. But you didn’t want to leave?”

“It was good there. The air was salty and it smelled good.”

“Like in dreams and in memories?”

She didn’t answer. After couple of moments of silence she said, “Yes”.

She had to take injections daily. That was what turned the sadness inside her into a deep melancholy. When she returned home from hospital she cried. The room was semi dark like twilight in hills. The night came too early that day and there weren’t any stars in the sky. Faces of her parents surfaced in her mind and her throat burned. And finally she remembered him. She thought time and distance healed her heart but he was still there buried inside. The flood of despair washed away the dam she erected all those years ago. And she called him. He didn’t answer.


“Then I called you. And told you I was sick and that doctors said my reports said I have this immunosuppressive condition. I had to take these injections every day. And I didn’t think I had much time. And I cried.”

I listened to her breathing as she paused. “What did I said?”

“You were silent. May be you were going to say something. I don’t know.”

I listened to her breathing some more. She was much more relaxed now. Her sobs subsided some time ago.

“It was a dream.”I said at last, “just a dream.”


We talked some more. I let her speak. It eased her out of the grip of that melancholy.

“You know, I don’t talk to him anymore. May be that’s why he didn’t picked up the phone. And I talk with you so much, that’s why you were in the dream.”

After she hung up I put down the phone on the bedside table. Lying there I listened for the sounds of waking world. It rained here when I was talking with her. A smell filled my nostrils. I looked for the word for it and couldn’t remember. Some people say dreams are a glimpse of our life in a parallel world. A world where the choices we didn’t make here are reality. Where, by quantum possibility she had that disease. Where I was left, thinking of something to say. And she was waiting for my answer. I wonder what that me would have said.

“Petrichor”, I muttered in darkness.





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