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There is a special spot in my house where all the aromas, released from captivity from the various foods breaking down while being cooked in the kitchen, congregate. I call that place the Aroma Point.

When they escape from whatever food is being cooked, they can, if they so wish, choose to drift out via the door to the backyard, always kept open. If at all it is kept closed the aromas have the option of escaping via the window facing the backyard, or another one situated right behind the stove which faces the cemented walkway to the left of the house. Both the windows, as do all other windows in my house, have nets on them to deter mosquitoes, flies and such other marauders. But nets are not a hindrance to aromas, are they? They can easily do a Houdini in spite of the net if they so wish.

Apparently, they do not.

What they do is waft through the door that leads to the hall. Once they enter the hall, they still have the option of slipping out of two doors and two windows, one of each on either side. But the aromas, are definitely not the outdoorsy kind. They do a u-turn instead and climb the stairs adjacent to the kitchen wall. Wait a minute. They are aromas. They don’t need to ‘climb’ stairs like we humans do. Or dogs. What they do is float up the stairwell to reach the bright and airy landing.

The landing has the treadmill on one side, but obviously the formless aromas do not need to exercise to keep fit and slim like poor mortals, so they scarce give it a glance. The window to the left, opening on to the open terrace, is also given the go by just as the door to the right leading to the guest bedroom. With single minded purpose, the aromas make straight for the door facing them, and enter the room beyond. Mine.

Once they enter my room, they again have a choice of gliding out through the window right opposite the door they entered through, which gives an excellent view of the tree which I call Anamika, the nameless one. There are two more windows, and also a door leading to a balcony which looks down on the front gate and the street. But, we have already established how the aromas are shy of the outside world. So it is no surprise that they do not deign to look at any of them.

Where DO they go? The mystery deepens, but not for long.

They make straight for the bathroom door in the far corner of my room and stop short. They have now reached their destination. Here they linger, a few of them detaching themselves from the main group and dispersing to explore the room .

By the way, have you watched those cookery videos/shows where the host talks nineteen to the dozen, and goes on and on about the lovely aroma that’s coming out of whatever they are cooking? Nothing but balderdash. They, my dears, are talking through their collective — and symbolic — bally hats. I have been cooking for donkeys years and am yet to come across this phenomenon. How may times have I brought the ladle close to my nose — sometimes too close that I have let out an ouch of agony from the ladle burning the tip of my nose — hoping to capture some aroma, any aroma. Nothing. Nada, Nyet, Zilch.

Now though, I know the secret. They hurry off, the whatchamacallits, to huddle together in front of my bathroom door. I am not really sure why. Perhaps they want to have a shower. Or brush their teeth. Do aromas have teeth? Who really knows? Here’s another thing though. No one can cook anything in my kitchen without me getting to know about it from my room one floor above. The aromas come in search of me and gleefully reveal all. Of course, this also means the obnoxious smells (from the neighbors burning plastic) also come to roost outside my bathroom door. More’s the pity.

© Shail Mohan 2020