Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The smell of pink

If I had to identify the singular scent that reminds me of my childhood, it would be the smell of meringues baking. The whiff that is part the scent emanating from powdered sugar that clouds the air, part the aroma of a baking confectionery and part the pleasant smell of creamed egg whites. (Honestly! They smell adorable!) The scent always conjured up images of these perfect little drops of pink heaven, and magically, the freshly baked meringues would always look that way. And to me, the smell of meringues will always be the smell of pink!

The first time I got a trail of this aroma was on my 6th birthday. I was raised by my grandparents from the time I was born because my mother was studying to be a doctor and my father was working in Kuwait, but that year, thanks to the Gulf War, my father had come down to live in Kerala and my mother, my brother and I joined him in his house about 3 hours away from where I was born and had lived till then. My grandmother is the most amazing, fabulous, brilliant and beautiful cook, and the 7 kilos I had lost at all of 6, just 3 months after living away from her, was testament to the fact that her food was irreplaceable for me. So when I found out on the 17th of August 1990 at around 9:00 AM that my grandparents were coming over, I was over the moon to say the least. I had  my pretty little clothes on and I was waiting eagerly for my first glimpse of them, when all of a sudden, I got a whiff of something sweet and delicious. My senses piqued. Unmistakeably sugar, I averred. (I always have been and still am such a sugar baby that I'm convinced that I was probably nursed on that stuff!) But that was a ballpark guess and I was aware that the exact scent was an unfamiliar one, but my God, it spoke to my soul!

Suddenly, my grandfather appeared. And then my grandmother. And after hugs and kisses and smiles and laughter, they handed me a pretty box which I opened to find these beautifully shaped, wonderfully glossy and perfectly pink little cookies that smelled like a garden in paradise. And that was when I first fell in love.

In hindsight, I agree that the precursor scent is probably a memory that I made up (Apparently, I do that a lot!), because it is improbable that anything baked 3 hours prior could give off such a potent aroma. But I can so distinctly remember it happening exactly as I described it. And the association of the smell is so strong that I can still remember its intonations.

Till today, any time I get a trail of the same scent or see a pile of meringues, I think of that moment when I first experienced the wonder and joy of creating.

And I thank the heavens for creating grandmothers for little girls.


  1. how sweet! Wish all grand moms and grand daughters shared the same bond as u both did :)

  2. well, she is the one who brought me up. she is more like a mother to me. that's why ...


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