They all were her lovers.
Lovers who stirred the deepest feelings in her soul. She caressed them, played with them, sometimes even tried to change them, but at the end of the day, she loved them all. Chaya was lost in thoughts, as she inhaled the sparkling accords of tangerine harmonized by sea salt aroma. Her olfactory senses were being teased by rich notes of hibiscus, orchid and lotus flowers, with lasting notes of amber and white musk engulfing her every breath.
“But…but…” sputtered Guillaume irritably, “Jean said that this was what you wanted. And this is the 27th time you have asked him to change it.” Chaya, still lost in her sniffing, replied, “Oh! Please do apologize on my behalf?” and moved to the next sample.
Mehek, was a small yet thriving boutique in the chic by lanes of Paris, which boasted of a fashionable clientele, customers who she deigned to sell her perfume to. She was a brutal salesperson and wouldn’t mince words while proclaiming that a prospective customer’s personality did not suit her creations. After all, they were dear to her and she would not part away with them if someone did not deserve it. This gave Mehek a perfect reputation; snobbish and devilish with an elitist attitude. As long as it got the money in the till, Chaya was happy.
She looked at the antique clock that she had bought from a flea market a long time ago. It was five. Time for her to hit the streets and soak in new fragrances.
Chaya could smell freshly baked croissants from the nearby patisserie, the nauseating odour of petrol, a women wearing Chanel 5, an adult wearing baby powder, a man whose scent was overpowered by his cologne…arrgh sweat she thought to herself as she wrinkled her nose in distaste and sat in her Beetle. As she drove, fragrances and smells overwhelmed her senses; but she reveled in them all.
As the signal turned red, she closed her eyes and imagined sipping on Chardonnay while nibbling on grilled fish…that smell!
She turned her head towards the direction of the taxi but it had sped away by then. Her heart was pounding as she could feel a stream of blood rush through her ears. “I am overreacting”, she said to herself while trying to take short and deep breaths. She heard somebody yell at her to steer ahead. And with great effort she turned her attention back to the road.
She reached her home in a daze and curled on her sofa. That fragrance was so overpowering yet excruciatingly real. It had the perfect harmony of notes; happiness, love and most importantly home. She hugged herself tightly and tried to forget it but she knew that it was a weakness she couldn’t overcome. Unanswered questions swirled in her mind as her nose tried to recall that ecstatic fragrance even as her brain told her that her anxiety had got better of her. She slept off when she could no longer stay awake.
A splitting headache greeted Chaya good morning, as bad temper helped her make a breakfast of burnt toast and grilled cheese. Guillaume knew from her ‘Bonjour’ that she was best left alone.
After rejecting all the samples, yelling at Jean and Guillaume for creatively destroying her precious fragrances with their rogue notes, she decided to hit La Rouge for the night. With wild hair, a slinky dress and an inviting smile, she entered the bar, which was pulsating with music and beautiful bodies. She drowned four shots in a row and started moving with the beats. After hours of flirting with gorgeous boys, she finally selected one to take back home.
As she made her way out, someone gripped her hand firmly and pushed the guy away. Before she could react, that smell overwhelmed her again. She quietly followed his lead and sat in the car. He drove without speaking for what seemed like eternity and suddenly stopped.
“Do you even know me?” she asked
“Chaya, left in an orphanage thirty years ago. She loved her eggs scrambled, her toast slightly burnt, the smell of first rain, thought wine was for snobs preferring beer instead, hated high heels and short dresses, if she had her way, she would roam around in pyjamas all day long with her purple socks. She won a scholarship to Oxford, but was rusticated for reasons unknown. After that status unknown.”
“How did you find me?”
“It was not easy”
“Why are you here?”
“What do you think?”
“You destroyed my future”, she said her voice barely rising in decibels, but the hostility in her eyes was unmasked.
“Your intense nose destroyed your future,” he said with a smile.
“You lead me on”
“You were willing to be lead, dear. And I had checked the rules. The college decided to bend them a little. They thought my behavior was a little deviant for a professor.”
“Leave me alone”
“As you wish.” And he left just as he had entered her life, one winter morning.
He walked back to his car with a solitary tear rolling down his eyes. He had been desperately looking for her for the past 9 years. She had vanished without a trace. After years of searching, he managed to find a lead. She had been an apprentice under Graham Clark, the famous perfumer. He had always joked that she should be making perfumes, not studying Economics. He never knew that she had taken his words to heart. For 8 and a half years he tried to look for her in universities across the continent; she was a brilliant student and would have made an equally brilliant professor. It was due to a chance encounter with one of his students he came to know that she was in France. It took months to visit each and every boutique and store to look for her. He finally found Mehek in Paris. He followed her everywhere, but somehow he could not bring himself to talk to her. She was so different. Her messy ponytail was replaced by a smart chignon and she had traded her jammies for summery dresses. Those high heels made her look ugly; he preferred his tiny beautiful girl instead of the sensual woman she had turned into.
But that night was different. He felt nauseated seeing her gyrate in front of those guys; he grabbed her hand on an impulse and dragged her to the car.
She was listless, no note could spark her imagination, she even started behaving politely with her customers and sold her masterpiece to a skanky celebutante. Jean was aghast and even threatened to leave her. But she could not bother to lose her temper at him. She merely gave him an exorbitant pay hike and shooed him away.
She missed beer, her colourful pyjamas and ankle length socks, as much as she missed his reassuring scent. Mehek had lost its fragrance for her. She returned to La Rouge night after night, but his scent was lost forever.
“Tring Tring”, her phone rang for the umpteenth time.
“What is it?” she asked crossly.
“I can’t hold off the sharks for any longer, you have to return”
“I am unwell”
“As you have been for the past two months?”
“I am the boss! I can take leave whenever I want to”
“Yes, tell yourself that”
“I am coming,” she said but Guillaume had already hung the phone. She took a deep breath and slipped into her clothes and strappy stilettos. “Damn fashion!” she cursed her heels and walked out of the house.
“Can’t this place survive without me, you insolent fools. Just tell those anorexic airheads to stay away from me or I will chew them…”
“A man has been waiting for you for the past month”, said Guillaume, disregarding her little tantrum. “He turns up, asks for you and then sits in the café till we shut down. Keeps asking for your address or contact number, which of course I did not give him. I told him that you were out of town for a while now. I would have called the police if he hadn’t been so handsome…”
She ran out of the store and crossed the road.
He got up.
“You still haven’t lost the knack of crossing roads with steady traffic.”
“You still haven’t stopped stalking me”
“You still haven’t got rid of your nasty temper”
“You still haven’t stopped analyzing my every mood”
“You still haven’t learnt how to give up”
“You still haven’t…”
“Shhhshhh,” he said as he enveloped her into a hug. Her nostrils desperately took in a whiff of his smell as her hands tightened around him. She was home.
This post has been written as a part of Indiblogger’s ‘Smelley to Smiley’ contest hosted by AmbiPur. You can get more information about them here https://www.facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia