Fragrance of A Borrowed African Childhood

by Tiwalola Kolapo
(United Kingdom)

I cannot be sure of the exact moment we 'entered' Africa. I use the word 'enter' as that was the specific word my siblings and I had used to thrash out the bet that would decide which one of us was right. We had argued over who would be first to 'enter' Africa.

Our plane had taken off very early one morning, we were on our way to Africa for the first time. Our British school friends had not so much as asked us but informed us how we were to live in mud huts, spend our time running from wild animals, have fun searching the jungle for Tarzan and Jane and play with monkeys whilst dressed grass skirts.

You see, I was seated alongside a pretty woman in seat 23A and given the others were seated behind me it made sense to my 9year old mind, surely I would enter Africa ahead of those seated behind me. I was going to be right.

Good bye smell of Crowland Road infant school lunches. Good by smelly cat that I played with on the way to school. Good bye smell of the freshly mown lawn next door and the smell of roast potatoes on Sunday afternoon, we always ate rice at my house. No potatoes in Africa or so I thought and I won't be trying to jump over that fence any more, I guessed our football had a permanent home now. I would miss my friends and the fragrance of their hair, I had always inhaled the smell of their hair whenever we hugged.

I must have slept forever. Now I was not to ever know which one of us got there first. As we dismebarked from the plane and took our first ever steps on African soil I smelt Africa before I saw it and the truth be told it smelt just like roast potatoes and chicken, my favorite smell in the whole wild word. And yes I wished my mother would stop as we walked past a restaurant and into the arrival hall and the arms of beloved relatives waiting to meet four odd African kids that spoke and smelt like Britons.

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Beach Dreams

by Jennifer
(Rutland Vermont USA)

My grandfather and I would walk for hours, with pails in hand on the muddy shore searching for hiding treasures among the silt. Challenging one another to find the most handpicked riches, we were not mindful that the memories were our greatest reward. The rhythmic tone of the water crackled against the shore as the motion of the earth swayed back and forth, the sun glistened touching the bank, as if to make it glow. The soft stones on the beach were under our shoeless feet massaging them as we leisurely walked. The endless sound of the seawater in the distance and the noise of the seagulls scavenging for food carried in the wind. The salty sweet smell of the sea engulfed our nostrils as if to bring calm. In the breeze was the essence of forgotten delights.
Our tummies grumbled with anticipation waiting for the first taste of summer. A short stroll to the crimson shack was worth every step taken. The line was long today and I looked at him with disappointment. He smiled with his eyes as if to say, it is well worth the wait. My thoughts raced with excitement for that one of a kind taste we could only seem to find here, remembering years passed and the pleasure we shared as we took our first bite. The fragrance of oil fumigated down the street and made our stomachs ache. I thought to myself about merely having six in my bin, saddened to know that this treat would not last long. We gather around the table as smells of the cuisine lingered.
Our server carried our order out to us and asked if we needed anything. My grandfather replied, “Yes, dear,” in his soft aging voice, as I quickly listened to hear the crackle from his strained cords. He would not always know the young ladies name even though she had served us every time we visited. Could we please get some ranch? She took his request with a smile and headed back into the shack.

It seemed like an eternity before she came back with our condiment. We can now finally eat, and with our mouths salivating with anticipation, we took our first bite. The alluring flavors of our delicacy screamed comfort as juices dripped down my chin. The outer layer of the morsel is unique and crusty, the emerald color hidden within finished with a salty snap is reflective of the place we both hold dear. We talked between succulent mouthfuls, recalling stories of my childhood. We both had huge satisfying smiles plastered across our faces. We are hoping to revisit this mystical place, looking forward to excellent fare, laughter and creating more memories.

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Bonfires and Burning

by Olivia Bowman

It's pretty late in the day, dark some might say though I can only see the lights. Silver flashes like fish on the current, from some anonymous place, some scrap of metal as it catches the sweep; torches sweep as they cast out rays you know. Or at least they seem to. I'm fairly small, tall for my age but small, with an oversized fireman's helmet plasticly groping my head. And it smells, that light, more strong than the freeze of the torch as it bobs blindly across me. It smells, that flamey blaze that claws the black above it, charred page with flaming edges that stretches out towards the moon.

My hand is warmed as another clasps it. Big bear hands, my dad's got, and eyes like a hawk. He can see the lights too and smell the sulphuric fizz of a sparkler as it hisses shapes in the sky. Childish letters, someone's writing their name in the glow. It subsides and dies, that light. But the big light blazes on, sputtering ashy confetti that falls like snow where I can see it in the circle of the glare.

But not the light, the smell. The smell is what sticks, clear, sharp in the nostrils when I catch it lingering over the fields of a frosty morning.
I'm small, tall for my age but small. It's not even Guy Fawkes night and yet the smell pervades; it's a kind of sticky smell, it gets in your hair, but it's flighty and fleeting to boot. The thing is, I can see this smell. It sneaks in rags of blue, streaky trails that purple out the black of the night in the circle of the glare that we are in. It's cold, the smell, carried on an air that bites and stings, that pinks the skin and numbs the ears. It's cold, the smell, but its mother is hot. It's mother scalds, crackles and burns. Its mother has a sharp tongue. She licks the paper of the sky as if it is threatening to rise just that bit higher, to hotly embrace just that bit more, but she's vulnerable, its mother, and soon, not yet but soon, she'll diminish, wilt and die. And it's funny because they need each other you see. Without the mother there's no smell. Without the smell. Without the brisk but cloying, seductive killer that is that smell, that lovely monster-baby. How could there be a mother?

You see, there's no smoke without fire.

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by Grace Mullen
(Smithtown, NY, USA)

I stepped out on the street, starting the long day a head of me. The sky was a pale pink as the sun crept up behind the trees. The icy cold stung my face, and the smell of burning wood and pine trees invaded my thoughts, sending me whirling through time.

I was 7 again, surrounded by my siblings and cousins. It was a weekend in Advent, and we were all in the spirit of Christmas. Impatiently, we waited, sweating in our coats, gloves and hats,and bursting at the seams with excitement. Finally, we were released. the doors opened before us and we stormed out into the vast forest covered in snow. We pushed each other down, tumbling over one another, and we shouted joyfully. The crisp air cooled my warm skin, and the snowman making began. This was Christmas for me.

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