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Last evening the L&M and I, as is usual, were watching yet another episode of a contemporary thriller show. On screen, two secret service agents were in an apartment (whose owner was absent, obviously) and stealthily searching for ‘clues’. Since this was not an ‘authorized’ search, they were being extra careful, putting things back exactly where they had been.

“Ha!” I scoffed..

“What?” The L&M wanted to know the reason behind my disdain.

“If that were my house, they could be careful for all they were worth, but, I would have known someone had been in as soon as I stepped inside

He started laughing. Now it was my turn to look at him and ask the reason for his mirth.

“Right. You’d have walked into the house and gone around sniffing the air like Luci, ‘What’s that smell? I smell something different, someone’s been here!'”

I laughed out loud. It was a true enough picture. I’d actually forgotten that aspect of it. I have a sensitive (understatement of the year!) nose that picks up odors worse than a dog, both good and/or bad. Some days back I had been telling the L&M that a strange new yet familiar smell was assailing my nostrils and troubling me. For the life of me I could not find its origin. He offered assistance and asked a thousand questions in the process, some of them so silly that I had a good mind to order him off to his room. And no supper for you. It is a pity that one cannot do that to husbands and live to tell the tale. Anyways…

I pointed to the the window of the bedroom from whence wafted in the smell, mildly pleasant to most people, but which irritated my nose and throat making me sneeze. I asked him if he had restarted burning incense sticks for the Gods. Of course not, he vehemently denied. That is a practice which he had given up due to my allergy. Oh well. It could be the neighbors then, the wind was being a spoilsport bringing the smell to my house and my sensitive nose was doing the rest, I concluded. But how could the smell make its way across the house to the bedroom without leaving a trace in the rooms in between?

It must be your imagination, the L&M suggested helpfully. People imagine smells you know, a doctor friend told me it has something to do with the brain. I immediately went to Mother Google who confirmed matters. It could be the early sign of dementia, she suggested. *Gulp* Oh well, no use gulping. There was nothing I could do about it. It was my brain’s fault anyway, making me smell things that did not exist. It was a pity that I couldn’t give it one whack and set things straight. And yet I wasn’t somehow convinced. There was the irritation to the throat, watering of eyes and sneezing. What about that? Those could not be signs of dementia surely?

Then one day I walked into the L&M’s study and stopped short. I lifted my nose and sniffed the air much like Luci. That smell was everywhere and was quite strong too. I told the L&M so.

“Are you using some new room freshener?” I wanted to know.

He shook his head, innocence personified. For once he hadn’t wrinkled his brows in annoyance because I had disturbed him while watching one of his favorite shows which I shun like the plague or the corona virus. Hmm… I am not one who usually falls for innocent denials. I am more the get-to-the-root-of-the-matter kind.

“Do you have the mosquito repellent switched on?”

“Yes.” he said.

“Which one?”

He named the one he was using.

“I knew it!!!!!” I cried triumphantly. “That was what I was smelling all these days! And I asked you like a thousand times if you were using something in your room!”

“Omg! I am using it in MY study. Don’t tell me you can smell it upstairs!!!!”

“The bedroom window is right above your study window. And I specifically told you it was near that window that the smell was strongest!”

Long story short, he changed the brand to the one I am not allergic. This and other similar instances were what the L&M was alluding to when the scene on television unfolded. But that was not what I meant when I said ‘Ha!’. What I had implied was more about how I could pick up any change in my home almost instinctively. In reality though it has got less to do with instinct and more with having mapped everything thoroughly in my head unconsciously that even the minutest change quickly registers, and the something-is-amiss signal starts flashing. This is not confined to the visual. Today morning the washing machine made a different krrr.. sound at the end of each rotation. I am sure most people would have missed it, but not me. The change in the sound pattern was immediately picked up by my ears.

Come to think of it, in this matter I am like Luci. She has mapped her surroundings and its sounds and smells so perfectly in her doggo head that any change has her in a fluster and off investigating. Hmm… I guess I am after all an honorary dog. πŸ˜‰

Β© Shail Mohan 2021