Love in a Bottle
by Farhana Hussain
I have a bottle of Chanel no 5 in the top drawer of my dressing table. I don’t use it. In fact I’ve only worn it twice in the ten years it’s been in my possession. I’m not one for perfumes and scents. They give me a headache and flu-like sensations of burning and tingling in my nose. I prefer fragranced oils instead. But oddly enough, they cause me no problems when worn by other people. Perhaps then, it isn’t so much that I don’t like perfumes but that they don’t like me.
As much as my bottle of Chanel doesn’t like me, I hold onto the fragrance because it reminds me of the sweetest moment of my life. It was given to me as part of my wedding trousseau as per Indian culture. My trousseau contained many things. Clothes, shoes, handbags and make-up to name a few. Tradition dictates that the women in the groom’s family are responsible for this very important gift for the bride. As such, everything was selected by my future mother-in-law and her niece. My husband has no sisters.
The only item sneakily chosen by my husband with the help of his even sneakier niece was the perfume. He told me afterwards that while he was happy to leave everything else to his mother, he didn’t trust her judgment in picking the right perfume. Her only indulgence when it came to scents was very strong, masculine-smelling Arabic Ouds.
When the trousseau was opened in front of me and my eyes fell on the bottle, I knew in that instant that I had found the person I was meant to be with. Not all men can pick the right fragrance for a woman. He had chosen something classic, elegant and timeless. All things that I felt I was or aspired to be. Never mind that these days most of my time is spent lounging around in my Pyjamas. Nothing classic, elegant or timeless about that.
My body has had the pleasure of coming into contact with the orangey-gold liquid in my bottle of Chanel, only twice. On the day I received it and on my wedding day. While the fragrance itself is very light, it is such a powerful scent that the moment my nose recognises the first whiff anytime and anywhere in the world, I am immediately transported back to that moment in my past. And my heart beats just as fast and my stomach lurches just as much as it did on that day.
I take it out once in a while and sit there cradling the bottle in my hand. Reliving the sweetness of that day. Reliving the moment when I felt I had turned from a girl into a woman because I knew what love was. It was a bottle of Chanel no 5.