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I am worse than a bloodhound when it comes to nosing out various smells. Or should that have been ‘I am better than bloodhounds when it comes to nosing out smells?’ Whatever. Suffice to say I can smell scents that others seemingly cannot. All kinds, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The day we moved into this house, I opened the door to one of the bedrooms upstairs and the mild and sweet fragrance of some flower warmed by the midmorning sun wafted in through the window opposite. ‘What’s that lovely scent?’ I asked the L&M. ‘What scent?’ the man asked, ‘I don’t smell anything!’ Later on I discovered there was a Sweet Autumn Clematis growing right beneath the window. It is not always all roses though, or sweet autumn clematis for that matter. The bad and the ugly too find their way to my nose.

One day years back, I smelled the foul smell of a dead something in my kitchen. No amount of checking the place yielded any result. I called the First Born (he was still in college back then) over for help. ‘What smell?’ he asked. His friend who had come over to study with him said she couldn’t smell anything either. ‘Stand tight here!’ I told them, making them stand at the exact spot from where the stench hit me strongly. Nothing, they said. I almost felt I was imagining things. But no, it couldn’t be, I was already beginning to feel nauseous and had to flee the scene. Later, when the L&M came home, he who knows I don’t make idle claims of nausea, searched high and low and found a dead mouse had committed suicide in one of the packing boxes kept on the ledge right above where I had been standing. (Ahh, lesson learnt: Gotta search the highs, not just the lows!)

I almost gag whenever the strong smell of most perfumes hit me, especially in the confines of a lift. ‘Who is burning incense?’ I ask when someone three or four houses away from mine is lighting them before prayers. Nobody around me has got even a whiff of it! Burning plastic makes me feel sick and I hide inside my room with doors and windows closed while everyone else goes about their life blithely. I sit holding my breath, with a kerchief pressed to my nose, at petrol pumps. My nose is not just beautiful (not my words!), it is ultra sensitive too.

No wonder then that the other day, yet again I reeled from a dead-something smell while standing at one end of the hall. Surely a dead rat, I said to myself, peering out of the window next to me. I walked outside to check, Luci close at my heels. I lifted my head and sniffed the air. No foul smell anywhere and no reaction from Luci. Surely a dead mouse would have had her in a tizzy? All that my nose registered was the wonderfully intoxicating scent of the jasmine that grew just beside the window. I walked back inside the house. Yes, there it was again, and close to the window too. The L&M was called in for assistance. “What smell?” he asked like a bally parrot. But the good man was willing to do a thorough search as always. Getting to the bottom of things is his forte. And he found it too, a dead lizard inside the huge decorative shell sitting on the window sill. Ugh.

“You know something?” I mused when the L&M was done throwing out the offensive dead creature and cleaning the shell. “I think I should hire myself out to the police and/or whichever agency needs sniffer dogs.” I imagined myself with a chain around my neck, sniffing around trying to locate the source of smells. “You bet I’d make a good job of it! I might even get a medal from the Prez.” I continued, “The best thing will be, I will have lots of other dogs for company!” (I am hoping Luci didn’t here that!) The L&M meanwhile, has still not stopped laughing. Oh well 😉

© Shail Mohan 2020