Foreword By Piya Mukherjee : How can Brazil lose to Germany? How can that even happen? That is on everyone’s mind today. Our’s too. And that is why a little distraction might just be a good thing in the form of today’s story. Fragrances, scents, aromas, many a times remind us of someone we know, love or miss so deeply. 

When I read this story, it reminded me of the smell of vanilla beans that used to fill our home when my mother made the most delectable bread pudding. I remember longing for the pudding as much as loving the aroma.There are no takers of bread pudding at home now so I rarely bake it. But every time I go to a bakery and sight a bread pudding, I smell the same vanilla as from my mother’s kitchen many years back, even when it is behind the glass. 

This story by Swapna Haldar is a similar one about the Gandharaj flower and the beautiful memories linked to it. Read it for yourself.   

We lived in the western part of India. It is a mostly arid region. One can not find sweet scented seasonal flowers there. It was like a ritual that every summer vacation, holding my daughter’s hand, crossing 2000 km I would reach my mother’s house. Ma also eagerly waited for the only child’s annual sojourn. River Ganges was a few minutes walk from the house. It was a very pleasant and quiet place. As I was fond of reading books, along with her library card, Ma would arrange for other library cards also so that I had no dearth of books to read. 

Every afternoon my routine was to visit the library. At the entrance of the library premises, there was a Gandharaj tree (king of scents) and summer was the flowering time. Till the next afternoon, my mind would float in that scent. Many years have passed, we have moved back to a city close to where my mother lived, the library  has also shifted to a different location. In our neighborhood, still a few sweet scented flowering trees have remained. And during my evening walk, whenever I pass by those trees, Ma occupies my mind.

Swapna Haldar has taught high school kids for almost fifteen years and now loves to write short stories for her two grandchildren.