My grand parents are long gone. But sometimes, I meet into an old man (or an old women) who greets me with a hug. Their earthly scent brings back memories of my old ones who are gone.
Within minutes, I am transported back into memory. I can almost see and hear them.
My granddad had the sweet smell of daka, buai and skin diwai (cinnamon bark). It was a distinct smell that was his and his alone. He didn’t chew the watery type buai that many are fond of. Never. He chewed the dry nearly ‘hard as a rock’ kind of buai which was sometimes laced with a tiny hint of skin diwai.
Humans are interesting creatures.
Each sight, sound and scent is locked away in archives of memory. All you need is a trigger and terabytes and terabytes of memory are activated and re-lived.
In the highlands, the scent from older people remind me of people who cared for me when I was little. People unrelated by blood who became family. They carry the comforting smell of earth, haus kuks and fires. They gave me comfort as a child when I found myself in the middle of strange surroundings.
The muddy smell of Goroka Market always reminds me of my grand mother. Me in gum boots trudging though puddles in a light drizzle. She, proudly introducing me to her friends. …The smell of mud and dirty water was followed later the warm comfort of home and the fire in the cast iron stove.
Brut, Old Spice and Goroka coffee belong to my dad. There was a noisy wheezing percolator plugged into the wall in his North Goroka office. It was the first time I ever tasted real coffee because it smelt delicious. The addiction to fine highlands coffee I acquired came from there.
When show time came, the rows of Simbu women with headdresses were always fascinating. The sweet smelling oils their mothers brought in bottles carried on for miles. I was always terrified of the tall women with flowing headdresses and kundus. But the bilas was always beautiful.
Sometimes, the Tolais came. Theirs was distinct and unusual. I remember asking what it was that gave their cultural performance that recognizable smell. Crotons (I don’t know the scientific name for it) and coconut oil. My ignorance then of nambis stuff was quite legendary.
Today, stuffy air-conditioning, air fresheners and artificial scents dominate my day. I have lemon grass planted around my house. It has a calming effect on the mind and spirit.
I could write more but it’s midnight and I say good night to he who chewed the buai and skin diwai.