Monday, June 18, 2012

Jasmine



"Plants that wake when others sleep. Timid jasmine buds that keep their fragrance to themselves all day, but when the sunlight dies away let the delicious secret out to every breeze that roams about."

~ Thomas More

Sam came home yesterday with a surprise - a garland of jasmines (my birdbrains had expected samosas instead)! For his flower-loving wife, it was certainly a big deal. Now it is very common here, in Southern India, for women to adorn their hair with jasmine garlands. Therefore, to find the roadsides laced with vendors selling fragrant flowers in heaps and bunches is quite a familiar sight. However, instead of going local, I chose to hang it from the mouth of a tall vase in the hall. How soon the little white flowers filled our home with their sweet, hypnotizing scent and with that tumbled along the bittersweet jasmine nostalgia.
When we were kids, how we cousins would get up at the crack of dawn and pluck the full-bodied jasmines in our grandmother's garden during the summer holidays. Groggy and half sleepwalking, the seven of us would tip-toe on the ticklish, dewy grass, lest we commit the unforgivable sin of waking up any of the parents. We had to be really quick because once the sun's rays fell on the flowers, they would go back to their shy sleep. Later in the morning we would all sit with grandma, over breakfast and mythological tales, and sew jasmine garlands for our gods and goddesses.

It has been twelve years since dear grandma passed away and since then we children have more or less qualified the huge test of being called grown-ups, managing tight, tiny universes of our own. But despite death, distance and differences, these small joys linger forever. Just like the unforgettable fragrance of jasmines.

16 comments:

  1. Hello Suman:
    How tenderly you describe the passage of time and sweet memories of the past. It is so very strange how the merest hint of a familiar scent can transport one back in time to relive events associated with the perfume, in this case, of Jasmine.

    Flowers play an important role here too with flower stalls on every street corner. There is something so very civilised about fresh flowers being readily available and casting their fragrance as one walks by. We are certain that the streets where you live are a joy to the senses!

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    1. Oh, they are beautiful, especially during the early rains when the dust has washed off and everything around you looks dewy fresh. I am sure Budapest must be stunning with those perfumed alleys, more so with the gorgeous architecture that you so often blog about.

      Regarding the nostalgia, I for one, have always felt connected with the past through scents, be it food, flowers or moments. As always, I'm glad you like the post.

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  2. No matter what they are and where we were, the joys of childhood remain with us forever. How wonderful that yours should be entwined with the scent of beautiful jasmine and that you should be so fortunate to have a loved one make you a fragrant gift of them.

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    1. I just couldn't agree less! Childhood stories stretch beyond eternity, I feel; however forgetful one is, one usually carries around a tale or two wherever he/she goes.

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  3. I've never experienced the perfume of jasmine - how I wish I knew it! It's lovely that the gift of a garland from your beloved should awaken such precious memories of your childhood and your grandmother. Your post took me back to my childhood, and Cape Breton summers at my grandparents' bungalow on the Bras d'or Lakes. The scent that can take me there in a minute is of cedar after a rain.

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    1. Cedar after a rain?! Tell me about it! Now that at once takes me back to the Pacific Northwest. :)
      Jasmine smells very close to gardenia, or a note sweeter perhaps. Its intensity is a trademark of all tropical flavours and it's an absolute joy to have it around in such abundance. Our summer nights would be really drab without the faint scent of jasmines hovering in the air.

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  4. I love jasmine. This flower has a wonderful fragrance. This post is very touching. Our memories are linked to senses, especially fragrances and taste. I was thinking of my grandmother. She made a wonderful cake. Sweet memories make us stronger

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    1. Merci, Celine! And as always, you sort out my jumbled thoughts pretty well. Grandmothers are just so special. Irrespective of region and culture, in every family they are like those strong, old pillars that stand tall forever, whether it is rain or shine.

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  5. One of the loveliest fragrances ever :)

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    1. It certainly is! Thanks for dropping by, Ash.

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  6. beautiful moments and even greatly described. such wonderful nostalgic moments.
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    1. Thank you so much Rajnish. You are always very kind to me. :-)

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  7. It is only when they pass away that we realise their true value.
    We had this creeper right outside our front door and every day in the morning it was such a pleasant thing to take in that wonderful aroma

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    1. I agree, friend; loss is a strange thing. Thank you for dropping by!

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