I come from a line of aromatics.
My grandmother packed her shelves with tiny jars of dried fruit and nuts. She would lay out a plate of crisp, sliced vegetables with fresh molasses bread when I dropped in. She is here as I pull fresh loaves from my oven. She is next to me as I lather Pears transparent soap. Sawdust and enamel coat my childhood Saturday afternoons.
I watch my mother gradually develop the same papery skin and elegant jowls, the same slightly bowed shoulder set and the same row of tiny jars. Visiting is brushing past the gardenia near the gate and the welcome of a cool, dim hallway on a hot sun-bleached day. She can sense us coming and pours blackcurrant cordial for us all.
In the mirror, my hair has the same unruly corners. The same white streaks. The same droop to the edges of my green eyes. Something of each of us revisits in our daughters. And the sensory memories draw these women out as they course through my cortex.
The walk from my house to the top shops is two hundred metres up the hill. A gentle slope with a set of lights and too much litter. I walk past the fruit shop and the newsagent, skipping the chemist, too. I'm headed to Jacob's, where he and his wife line the walls with spices and huge bags of rice. Fresh made samosas are in the bain marie and Bengali DVDs are for hire. I'm almost out of ground coriander, and I turn the packet of star anise in my hand, wondering if I will brave that on our dinner table. The last packet I add to the pile is the cinnamon, atop the paprika and cummin, and I carry home a houseful of enticement.
The rolled cinnamon bark, like curls of decadent chocolate, waits in the darkness until I make something fit to bear its splendour. Cinnamon, the scent of waiting, the aroma of joy to come.
Linking with Amber's December Absractions.