The Fragrance in a Parcel… and the image of a distant world

I love sending a parcel.

As soon as the idea strikes me, to send a parcel to someone, I could be seen leaving aside all other work, really urgent work, and would spend my time rummaging around in the store room which houses the used carton boxes, old bubble wraps, plastic bags, cloth bags and things like that to create the parcel. It’s like opening an old trunk and taking from it, the elements of surprise, the nostalgia, the memories,  place them inside the box, with love and care and send them with joy. This would be followed by keeping track of the parcel till it reaches its destination, further followed up by conversations on its contents, so on and so forth, establishing a cyclical process.

I have wondered why I like this activity so much. To receive a parcel is fun, understood, but my excitement is actually about sending. The one important reason I can trace this back to, is something that happened in childhood.

Every now and then, with certain regularity as well as unpredictability, we would receive a parcel from my paternal Uncle who lived abroad. Sometimes the parcel was delivered by the postman, tucked on top of the back seat of his bicycle or sometimes there would be a call from the postmaster as my father was known in the locality and we were privileged to have a telephone connection, telling us that we need to fetch the parcel from the post office, as it is either big and would not fit into the back of the cycle, or there may be a payment if there are some items which may have a fee levied on it.

The parcel had clothes, new or used. Some of which we wore, some we gave to other friends and relatives as either the colours suited them better or the size fitted them better. Sometimes the parcel also had books and toys.

What came with the clothes, for me, was the fragrance. It smelt different. That for me was the smell of a foreign land. I know now that it was the detergent or the fabric softener. But as a child, that smell was a language, a communication, a sentiment I could only explain through the nose. Only when another person smelt it that I could describe the childhood sense of amaze which came with it, a mixture of awe and wonder and curiosity about the land form where the parcel came.

1353, Heather Lane SE was etched in my mind as a beautiful home in a foreign land. To that unknown, unseen place, I would add images of things that I see in the pictures sent by my Uncle, the flowers, furniture, carpet, plates and glasses, people, toys…every bit of details was observed and added to that image.

He also sent us old copies of National Geographic magazine. I did not read much English then. Nonetheless, they added to that space where all these curious images were forming a beautiful world.

So now, when I prepare a parcel, I carry all that with me. I add things of need, old and new, things of surprise, things of fascination, things of curiosity, and that fragrance from the past still lingers on…

2 thoughts on “The Fragrance in a Parcel… and the image of a distant world

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