by Shamala Palaniappan
(Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)
The pungent aromas of a harbour evoke both, an intense sense of joy and a deep sadness. Harbours emnate both the best and worst smells someone's senses can ever be assaulted with.
It is the wafting sweetness of hope and sourness of hate. I often feel as if I can almost inhale the aromas of empires that were formed and civilizations that were decimated. Harbours reek of despondency and yet fragrates the air with euphoria.
As I inhale deeply by a harbour, I detect both the sense of doom and gloom and at the same time the heady perfume of a better life ahead. There is the odor of a thousand rotting bodies and pulverized hopes as slave ships set sail. There is the bouquet of aromas of sailors coming home to their sweethearts.
When I breathe in at a harbour, on a more personal level, memories of my grandfather are evoked. And memories of the gray, overcast morning when as a ten-year old child, I last bid him goodbye as he set sail come to mind. I remember the plunging pain my heart sank into and how for days afterwards, I would sit for hours writing him odes of desolance and poems that pined for him.
The memory reigns greater than any other memory as the next time I was to see him was when he was arrived home in a casket. I remember leaning over him or at least the physical body that was him and somehow remembering the cornucopia of scents that surround a harbour.
I think it may have been that with my grandfather, I could harbour any hope at all, and he would champion me on. When I told him that I was going to change the plight of the people of the world when I grew up, he asked how and when I answered that I was going to write, he bought me my first fountain pen. He instilled hope by encouraging me on.
Months later when I broke the nib and together with it sidelined my writing and hence the dreams, he coaxed me on as I told him I would like to make the world a better place by becoming a classical trombone player, he bought me a trombone, much to my parents chagrin. My dreams evolved, and so did my hopes, cajoled by his encouragement, simply instilling the fact that I could set sail on my ship of dreams and anchor on any one of my ideas.
As I stand on a harbour deck, inhaling the deep scents of joy and sadness, I remember the scent of hope, and the hope that the confidence that my grandfather had in me, that continues to live.
Comments for The Scent of Harbouring Hopes
Click here to add your own comments