Smell Check in the Banerjee Household
Calcutta. This city is really special for me as I’ve been staying here since the past 17 years. My great grandfather came to Calcutta in the 1900s in search of a job & ever since, my family lives here. My parents, my brother, me & our cocker spaniel, Oscar live in Tollygunge.
I finished my boards last month & am all set to go to college from next week. My brother, Animesh just started his first job with a bank. All of us were very happy for him as he’s always dreamt of working in the financial services industry. Hence, mom & dad had been planning to throw him a small party to celebrate his success. I had been in charge of calling all the guests. Since this was to be a small affair- only close family was to be called. Preparations started.
Next week, I started my college. I woke up early morning as I hadn’t been able to sleep properly with the excitement of starting college. I woke up to find Oscar nowhere to be seen. He usually slept with me on my bed. There was a strange odor in the bedroom. I assumed it was some of my food leftovers from the midnight snacking I was so habituated to. And I was right! It was June & the humid heat had spoilt the potatoes from my half eaten sandwich. Some of it was also on the floor. “Must be Oscar’s doing”, I thought to myself. I switched off the AC & opened the windows to let the fresh air in. Dad came in just then after his morning pujas & ringing the bell went around invoking the Gods. The agarbatti which he brought into the room helped. I told him to leave it in the room itself near Goddess Durga’s photo on my study table.
I left for college soon after & came home late in the evening. Ma had told me to get some last minute items for the party the next day, so I had ended up going to Park Street to shop. I entered the house, once again to a strong smell of a dead rat or something on those lines. Ma looked tired. “All well, Ma? , I asked. “No Debika, can’t you smell it. I’ve been looking for the source of the smell since morning. Wasted so much time. Even Buddhan kaka hasn’t been able to find what it is.” “We’ll definitely have to do something soon, the party is tomorrow.” So, Oscar was bribed to help us. He was happy to sniff out the rat in an hour & was treated to some chewy sticks of his favorite kind. Ma made a “dhoop”- a fragrant camphor burnt with coconut husks which helps in driving away mosquitos & removes any bad smell in the house.
The next day, I came back early from college. Ma was busy with the last minute cooking. There was to be a huge spread- all homemade & Ma had been toiling in the kitchen since 8 in the morning. We were to have 3 kinds of fried fish. One of my uncles was a vegetarian, so vegetable dishes were made for him too. But there was a problem- the strong fried dish smell was all over. The mustard oil odour added to the already choked air. I could see Oscar salivating in the corner. I panicked but a thought quickly struck me. I rushed to my room & pulled out my favorite bottle of perfume. It was an expensive one gifted to me by my friends on my birthday. But this was an urgent situation. The guests were due any moment. “Why aren’t you using the Ambi Pur room freshener we bought last week?”, Ma shouted. I had completely forgotten. The lingering lavender fragrance worked its wonders. Ambi Pur saved the day!
Just then the bell rang & our first guest entered. The party was a success as Animesh was congratulated & spoken highly of. Ma’s cooking was a smashing hit.