Sometimes certain memories are triggered by smell.
I love travelling by road, by choice. Almost 10 hours of talking to no one, if I please….that’s bliss. And watching the other passengers interact is always interesting. Fights amuse me. Political discourse keeps me entertained. “Chyking’ is always fun to watch.
Then there are the passengers with children.
No matter how much of an antisocial vibe I put out, the children flock to me. Even if the toddler is right at the front, somehow, they ride on a wave of strangers and end up on my beach…usually at the back, where I like to be. And I have a weakness for them. The little sneaky things can smell it.
Smell. That brings me back to where I began. During one of such trips from Lagos to Akwa-Ibom, a mother with a cute little girl was my seatmate. Thirty minutes into the journey, she was playing with my flying hair. While on my lap. Only to be expected. It was all fun and games, till she began to fart.
I suspect the little darling must have indulged in a lot of sweet snacking the day before, and her personal effluence was suitably rank. The bus was air-conditioned and tightly shut. We were in for a fragrant trip.
Then her mother noticed.
“Chai. Adiaha! You have started this thing again. All of last night you almost killed me with this your gas. Thank God I am prepared for you today.”
And with those words, she reveals a bottle of perfume with a flourish and lightly spritzes her baby’s butt.
Oh the horror. The sheer gag-worthy rankness of it. My eyes watered. The toddler’s farts had been smelly, but in combination with the helpful Eau De Pheeeeew, it became a nauseating thing.
I held my breath. I averted my face. I prayed. Finally I handed the girl back to her mother with a shaky smile. Then I cranked open the window and took a deep clean breath. And almost for the duration of that journey, the studious mother kept liberally dousing her child’s bottom anytime the little girl tooted. My nose was almost permanently stuck out the crack of the window.
My people, I survived that trip. This is my testimony. Hallelujah!
Then I stroll out today, minding my own damn business and this dude walks up to me and says hello. Immediately I turned, the smell hit me. I don’t know if it was his perfume, or his personal body odour, or if he just left a factory where he handles noxious chemicals….but I know what it smelled exactly like. Eau De Pheeeeew+ Baby Fart. Needless to say, the encounter did not end well.