In the previous three episodes, I shared about my stroll into the streets of scents and how my husband Rajat gave me my soul mate of a perfume, “Poeme”. You also know that I was crushed by the news of Poeme being discontinued. Let’s pause about perfumes and let me share with you something magical.
In 2003, My life changed with the arrival of my son, Arnav. I was always terrified of pregnancy. I thought that it would slow me down, wondered whether I would be a good mother, was worried that the vagabond in me would be curtailed. And much to my surprise, my pregnancy was a breeze. I worked till a week before my delivery and stayed home for a month after bringing Arnav home and I did not want to put him down for a second. For the first time in my life, I really understood what my father must have felt when he held me in that operating room when I first arrived and why he loved me despite all my experiments with life. I fell in love truly and madly with my child.
I would lay down next to him each night and read him stories. When he was five or six, he asked me to tell him stories from my life, especially funny ones. Over the years, I told him stories of my parents’ childhood, my summer vacations, each person I was friends with, my school days, college days in India as well in US, work life, projects I worked on, people I met and told him of his paternal grand parents and all their family. As he grew up, I told him of my dreams, my crazy escapades, work details. I don’t think that there is anything that my son does not know about me.
He is a teenager now and slowly separating. A major event was when he went to Paris this April to play in a football tournament. It was the first time that he was going out of the country without us, with his school and his friends. He wanted money for expenses. I told him that he did not need much because he would be busy playing tournaments and his hotel and food are covered anyway. I spoke to other parents and we decided that we should give them around $300 and that should be enough for a week. I gave him strict instructions that just because he had money, he need not spend it and that he should not buy anything too expensive and so on and so forth. I could just hear his unsaid “Mom! Stop it” and I finally curbed my helicoptering. He had a great time. They won a couple of games, lost many and carried home wonderful memories of everything from Mona Lisa to Eiffel tower to staying up late talking till they lost their voices. A week later, all the parents gathered at the airport in the early hours – this time to receive tired, quiet kids, quite different from the excitedly babbling boys a week earlier. We got home at about 9am and he fell asleep.
When he woke up, he handed me $50 or so and I scolded him for spending so much money and told him that hopefully he did not buy junk. First he showed me the 5 or 6 t-shirts he bought for himself which totalled $50 or $60, then he spoke about some of the food they ate, then he showed me the sweatshirt he got for my husband and then he handed over a small package to me and asked me to open it. When I did, I saw a beautiful white package of Chanel perfume. This was the gift that cost him the most – over $100. He said “Ma! I remember the story that you told me about Chanel No. 5 and how you never bought it for yourself. I went to the shop and asked and they said that this was the latest Chanel perfume. I got it for you so that you can now complete that wish.” I felt like such a heel for giving him a hard time for spending all that money. Most of his pocket money was spent on me remembering a story I told him years ago. And just like that, “Poeme” my favorite perfume was replaced by Chanel. He remembered such a random detail from a story of my past and brought me a gift so thoughtful.
I still have a bottle left of “Poeme” that was given by my husband, who after 23 years, still manages to stay with me; a bottle of “Versace Bright Crystal” that my son helped me buy to replenish the dwindling supply of Poeme and also “Chanel” that he chose for me. They are each my lucky charms for different purposes and I am thankful for the treasure of these three bottles.
They say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. In my nostalgia for things gone by, I have not seen the new possibilities that were right in front of me. We get so attached to things, think that those things define us and then magically, we move into a place where none of those things matter. And all that you are left with is a huge gratitude of the love that surrounds you, of occupying a place in someone’s heart so deep that it touches your soul. May be, whatever our problems are - if we keep telling our stories, our children may provide solutions in ways unimaginable. The trick is not to have that expectation and be surprised by the rewards…every single time. Next time you see me, you sure might wonder if I smell like Poeme, Versace or Chanel and all I can tell you is that it’s that sweet smell of something beautiful.