My Olfactory Memories

Trigger warning: This poem contains mention of sexual assault, which could be triggering to survivors.

i always associate my memories with smells
the smell of indian chicken curry transports me back to when my mother fed me with her hands on a Sunday afternoon
the smell of japanese cherry blossom perfume is a fragrant flashback to my childhood best friend and dressing up for a grand affair
the smell of my 5-year-old labrador’s paws is a redolent reminder of his arrival
but this smell, i did not welcome you
you plagued my brain with memories i had buried in the deepest crevices of my mind
that white dupatta with a sweet-smelling perfume
i opened my eyes and i was there in that same dreaded room
my teeth were chattering as water dripped from my wet hair but i could not lift the dupatta and face him as he touched me
12-year-old me knew this touch was wrong. this touch wanted me to go back to the shower and take another bath
the touch crept up my back, near my breasts and on my neck
he was so close to me i could still smell the lunch on his breath
i left the room smelling of soap and prayed that my olfactory memory would suppress 5 minutes ago
but i look up and see my elder sister look at me with pity. a mutual understanding. an experience which brought me sorrow
my olfactory memory, you betrayed me
you broke the rose tinted glass you showed me the world through daily
today, my olfactory memory, you betrayed me

Shreya Ganguly is a political science student at LSR.

Featured image: Ed Leszczynskl/Unsplash