Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Breathe in...

Our sense of smell is such a wonderful, magical thing. I thought of this when I read through some old emails in my inbox. Realised that I was glad they hadn't been deleted, then laughed at the fact that I'm such a collector. Love collecting letters, tickets and any memorabilia that'll remind me of something and somewhere. And photos? I even find it hard to throw away the digital ones that come out bad.

There's something so wonderful about being taken back to an event, place or an ordinary day, by a picture, letter or even a song. Then I remembered how powerful smells are. The smell of food can remind you of someone's home or a time in your life, the scent of a perfume can make you think of a certain person or in the case of a pregnant woman, the smell of any - to the outside world- random thing, can make her hurl or throw up.

And yet, smell is one of the few things, along with feeling/sensation, that we can keep , take out later and be reminded of past times. How marvellously cruel! Before I moved to Ghana, I remember being hit by the scent of Ghana upon arrival as my feet for the first time in years would touch Ghanaian soil. The blend of humidity, greenery, animals, pollution and sea would overpower the senses for a few moments, those steps taken from the aircraft into Kotoka Airport. Similarly, others notice that when you arrive in Ghana, your smell is different, a certain crispness, freshness or so. (If you want to find out, when you arrive in Ghana, keep your suitcase closed as much as possible, then after three or four days open it. By then, you'll be smelling like Ghana but the suitcase still has that foreign smell).

A smell or artificial scent can thrust you into a different mood completely. Walking past a woman wearing my mother's favourite scent when I lived in London, would lead me to suddenly feel a tingling of homesickness. It seems that this natural asset of ours, the sense of smell, the one that we cannot store, can have overwhelming power over us and our actions. How else can you explain that every time I pass the beach strip between Tema and Sakumono, I must, (yes must!) open my windows, no matter how hot or noisy it is out there. And every time, the fusion of sea, salt and fish in the wild winds leave me exhilirated for days.


Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

That is so beautifully described, I think you are a poet too! And I totally agree with the smell of the sea at Sakumono - windows down!

Maya Mame said...

Thank you, at times I try ;)

Feel like I could use some of that sea-air now.


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