A Whiff of Perfume

by Parth Pandya

Parth Pandya embarks on a nostalgic trip thanks to a whiff of perfume, remembering the many summers he spent in Surat during his childhood. He captures the memories in this poem.

On lazy Bangalore Saturdays,
when we are about to set out to eat
and then return for a well-earned siesta,
my boys come to me with their arms raised,
waiting for me to spray my perfume
on their shirts over their armpits,
on their unsullied bodies,
rejoicing in this little ritual −
quite unnecessary yet wholly satisfying.

It takes me back to my many summers in Surat,
an annual ritual of my childhood,
when my cousins and I
would raise our arms in surrender,
to the uniform perfume that was sprayed on us.
United in blood, united in fragrance,
we would exit into the streets
of a city that didn’t seek a
sense of purpose to exist.

Nothing ever happened there –
nothing needed to.
We were happy in this nothingness,
enjoying somnolent lunches
and waving newspapers to convene air,
when the electricity deserted us,
spending hours playing cricket
and walking through the by-lanes of an old city,
evading the motorcycles that narrowly
dodged the cows on the road.

Dusk would see us walking back home,
washing the city off our hands and feet,
changing out of the clothes
from which the perfume had long evaporated,
and eating food under the loving gaze
of our grandmother,
who never asked what we did
in a place where nothing ever happened
and nothing ever needed to.

Parth Pandya moonlights as a writer even as he spends his day creating software and evenings raising his two sons to be articulate, model citizens who like Tendulkar and Mohammad Rafi. He has been regularly published in forums such as Spark, OneFortyFiction and Every Day Poets. Taking his passion a step further, he wrote his first book ‘r2i dreams’, a tale of Indian immigrants as they work through the quintessential dilemma, ‘for here or to go?’ You can know more about the book at
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